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Ask PFW: Getting underway

Just like most Patriot fans, I hate this Asante Samuel situation. And of course it is quite common each year for a handful of players to get irate over being franchise-tagged. I know that the players association and the owners agreed to this situation, but I had a suggestion and wanted to get your feedback. What if the franchise tag extended the contract to two years guaranteed? I think this would make the player happier due to the guaranteed cash, and the teams would think twice about tagging a player, but also get the benefit of keeping a star player from escaping to free agency. Thoughts?John Kearns

I don't think the teams would be willing to agree to this. Much of attraction of the franchise tag from the organization's perspective is to avoid having to dole out big money over the long term. Even though two years wouldn't necessarily be considered long term, I can't see teams lining up to guarantee two years' worth of salary (at big dollars) to a player. If a team thought a player was worth that it would likely just give the long-term deal and prorate the bonus over the life of the contract. I also don't think players would love the idea of being tied up for an extra year, albeit for big money. Players like the idea of becoming free agents so they can sell themselves to the highest bidder. A two-year franchise tag eliminates that as a possibility for a second year.
Paul Perillo

I see the following contributing players gone from the Patriots by the start of next season: Troy Brown, Tedy Bruchi, Junior Seau, and possible goners: Rodney Harrison, Chad Scott and Eugene Wilson if he doesn't step up. That is a lot of defensive players. Adding Asante Samuel to this list of goners will in my opinion severely impact the defense. I also think that players with experience in a team's system contribute faster than new players that are brought in. What are the Patriots doing to get younger on defense other than adding Brandon Meriweather and I think it is a mistake to let their best pass defender and playmaker, Samuel, get away. In my opinion, he steps up in the big games, just like Ty law did and having players like that is how you win Super Bowls.John Heisman

As much as I set out to make this an Asante Samuel-free zone, it's not starting out that way. Samuel is a solid player and his presence would be missed of he was out of the lineup for the long term. But let's not jump ahead of ourselves and assume this situation won't be resolved. There's still plenty of time between now and the start of the regular season. Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli have to worry about Samuel right now but we don't. As for getting younger on defense, I think Meriweather is one guy that will accomplish that feat. They obviously will need to add a few more in the coming drafts. But I disagree with you about newcomers contributing. Like anything, it depends on the individuals involved. Would you rather have a young player who's been in the system for a few years like Eric Alexander playing a huge role this year or a newcomer like Adalius Thomas? Regardless of experience in the system, Thomas is obviously the more talented player. Belichick has shown a tendency to look for veterans to bring in, especially at linebacker and even in the secondary, rather than incorporating youngsters into the rotation. I think he'll continue to do that in the future.
Paul Perillo

You guys have a reasonably good reputation for objectivity (in your assessments), and candor in your publicly expressed opinions. What do you think of Matt Light as the key offensive lineman of the New England Patriots? Besides Tom Brady, he's probably the only guy whose starting position is not a competitive question at this point. Yet I find him a bit slow, a bit lazy, very conventional, occasionally overmatched, mediocre, comfortable and beaten a little too often for my comfort, let alone Brother Brady's.Tom Moriarty

First of all, there would be plenty of people who would dispute that objectivity claim, but that's not important. Boy you certainly went to town on poor Matt Light there, Tom. What did he stiff you for an autograph once or something? I disagree with parts of your claims. One is that he and Brady are the only comfortable ones in their positions. I think Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen and Stephen Neal are just as comfortable with their starting jobs as well. Also, I don't think Light is lazy or comfortable. I think he's a hard-working, smart guy who gets by perhaps with a little less athleticism than the top-flight left tackles in the league. He has been a bit inconsistent at times but in my mind still ranks in the upper half of left tackles, and last season down the stretch and into the playoffs played at a very high level. In fact, after Miami's Jason Taylor had his way with him in December, Light was dominant from that point. Maybe that's a sign of more consistency to come.
Paul Perillo

If a player such as Chad Jackson goes on the PUP or IR, what happens with their roster spot and contract? Do they still get the money they were owed and does it count as a year of playing? Also, does this player count as a player on the roster or can another player replace him?Brady Kullen

What does a player on the PUP mean? How long are they on it for and if they are on the PUP when the season starts do they count as a roster spot? Also, do we have to pay them the money they would be earning?
Kelly Ernfield

The two lists represent different things. PUP, or physically unable to perform, comes in two forms. Active PUP is for players entering training camp with a pre-existing injury that prevents them from taking part in practice. Once the player begins practicing, he is taken off PUP and is part of the active roster. If the player never returns to practice during camp and isn't healthy at the start of the regular season, he would be put on reserve PUP. Under that scenario, the player must sit out the first six weeks before being eligible to return. At that point a three-week window would begin during which the player must either begin practicing or be placed on injured reserve. Once the player begins practicing, another three-week window starts before the team must decide to activate the player or place him on IR. If he's activated he obviously would count on the 53-man roster. Once put on IR, the player cannot return to the active roster for the remainder of the season. If a player is on either list, he does not count on the active roster but would still be paid his normal salary for the season. The team also would be allowed to replace the injured player on the active roster.
Paul Perillo

I'll get straight to my question: Under which coach was Tom Brady drafted? I think it was Bill Parcells but I'm not for sure.Big Mike

I'll get right to my answer: Bill Belichick, sixth round, 2000.
Getting bigger every day Paul

What are your thoughts that the Patriots make a trade offer to get Larry Johnson from the Chiefs? With Priest Holmes making a comeback and Larry not happy with his contract situation (a la Samuel), what do you say we trade Asante for Johnson? The reason I bring this up is due to the current status of Laurence Maroney's shoulder and the uncertainty of his durability for a complete season. Can you imagine that 1-2 punch of Johnson/Maroney?
Michael Montrond

There are so many holes in this one I don't know where to start. First and foremost, Asante Samuel straight up for Larry Johnson?? I'll take it. Where do I sign? What's that, Carl Peterson thinks they can get more for an 1,800-yard back who's averaged about 20 touchdowns a season? Go figure. And why would Peterson be willing to rely on Priest Holmes after his injury troubles? Johnson is unhappy with his contract for sure but Peterson isn't going to just give him away. This deal would make little sense for Kansas City. Now if you threw in Maroney with Samuel … then maybe.
Paul Perillo

I have looked all over the Internet and I cannot find the number Patrick Egu wore in 1989 for the Pats. If possible could you please foward that to me.Daniel Friedrich

Patrick Egu was a running back who played seven games for the Patriots in 1989, wearing the number 33.
Paul Perillo

Sorry for the 10,000th Asante Sameul question. How effective is the strategy of holding out till the 10th game? Every preseason a handful of NFL players in Samuel's position threaten the exact same holdout till Week 10 and none of them seem to end up following through on it. Either they get their deal, get traded, get promises of no more franchising, etc. However, I can't cite a single player that had actually held out till Week 10 and then returned to their team (please educate me if there has been one). So my question is this, if Asante holds out and returns to play will his free agent value be the same or lower when he re-enters the marketplace? Suppose he was released today and signed a five-year, $40 million deal with a $10 million signing bonus with someone, this is just a hypothetical. Would his market value be the same or lower after sitting out most of a year? Is the memory of NFL GM's long enough to make a holdout irrelevant, or will sitting hurt Samuel? I understand that by sitting out Samuel could potentially avoid a career ending injury that could spoil his big payday, but otherwise, is this really a losing strategy?Matt Falbe

First of all there have been examples of players who have chosen to sit out during the season, most recently and close to home last year with Deion Branch, who sat out the opener before getting traded. Joey Galloway sat out before getting traded from Seattle to Dallas several years ago, and there are other examples as well. As for Samuel's value, that's impossible to answer without knowing how it will unfold. If he sits out 10 weeks (and for the record I don't think he'll do that), comes back and plays poorly, then of course his value will be hurt. But if he picks off four passes in the final seven games after holding out, and then performs well in the playoffs, his value may even increase over what it is now. So there's really no way of knowing for sure if a holdout would potentially hurt his overall value.
Paul Perillo

I really like the line going into this year. I think the Pats got one of the best interior three in the league in Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal. With them being signed for the next few years the running game should be really good. But what are we going to do at tackle? It seems Matt Light has been inconsistent and hurt over the last two years. Aside from the RB situation, the tackle is a concern as well. Who do you think will start this year at the tackles?Frizz Barrett

Matt Light is a lock to start at left tackle barring an injury. His play, as I stated above, was really solid down the stretch last season and there's no reason to believe anyone on the roster is ready to battle him for the job. The right tackle spot is tougher to call. Nick Kaczur and Ryan O'Callaghan seemed to enter camp in a dead heat for the job. Kaczur opened as the starter for the first few practices before O'Callagahan took the next few as the starter. I think this one will carry on right through camp and into the regular season. O'Callaghan is a beast in the running game and is a little bigger than Kaczur. But Kaczur has quicker feet and does a better job in pass protection. Both have played pretty significant minutes already in their young careers so watching these two should be interesting for the next few years.
Paul Perillo

How important will Randall Gay's presence in the secondary be now that Chad Scott's out for the season? Scott and Ellis Hobbs were slated to fill the void left by Asante Samuel.
Chip Heard

Scott's injury is significant, no question. At the very least he would have provided some quality depth at corner even if Samuel returns to action. Gay was already slated to be in the mix for one of the cover spots as well. This certainly increases his importance to some level. With Scott out, Gay has joined Ellis Hobbs as the starters at cornerback. If he can stay healthy I'd expect Gay to be an important piece to the secondary puzzle. He's a good cover man with quickness that makes up for his lack of size. His durability is a question mark, though, and with Scott already out losing another corner to injury could be a major problem.
Paul Perillo

Hi Guys, Is the PUP ever used to give a veteran a "break" from training camp? I mean slightly injured, but during a regular season would probably play.Mark L.

No. Teams can only put players who enter training camp with an injury on PUP. If a guy practices for a couple of days and then turns an ankle, he can't be placed on PUP. In that case it's more likely that the player would simply be held out of practice until his ankle healed.
Paul Perillo

From what I have been reading, it sounds like our rookie Brandon Meriweather has been lining up at cornerback. Do you think that this was perhaps their intention all along, or is there some benefit to learning CB in the NFL first before safety? I know that they will get him reps at all the positions, but I just wanted to know what you guys thought about the prospect of him lining up opposite Ellis Hobbs. It is exciting to think that he could line up at CB for years to come since I don't see Samuel coming back next year.Chas Ackers

Right from draft day Belichick said that Meriweather had the flexibility to play a number of spots in the secondary. He explained how he'd played safety, corner, nickel back and lined up both inside and outside. Thus far it seems Belichick has played him at corner exclusively both inside and in the slot. I'd assume that at some point when Belichick feels Meriweather has sufficiently learned his assignments at that position that he'd probably want to move him around to see how he handles others. I'm not sure exactly why Belichick chose to start him at corner, but certainly if Meriweather has the capability of playing there it makes sense to start him there.
Paul Perillo

A lot of comments had flown around when we signed Wes Welker about how we gave more than he was really worth (the sentiment was boosted by the initial estimates of the contract which were way off). Adding big names like Donte' Stallworth and Randy Moss afterward, at less expense, probably didn't help the feeling that we gave too much either. But now we're seeing Welker in camp, and from what I hear, he looks worth every penny (and draft pick). How do you think Welker stands up to what he cost the Pats to acquire?
Will Bortolin

First I don't think the initial reports of Welker's contract were way off. The guaranteed portion of the deals in question were actually quite similar. The overall package that was originally reported included some backloaded years that Welker never would have seen while the one he signed did not. As for the compensation it took to acquire him, I personally thought a second-round pick was a little high. I have no doubt that Welker will contribute, just as Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney did last year. Welker has looked good in camp but I'll reserve my judgement until I see how he fares in games. Randy Moss has looked great thus far as well … but again it's still just training camp. A lot can happen over the coming weeks. Regardless of what they gave up to get him, I believe Welker will help the team and that's really the only important thing at this point.
Paul Perillo

I was reading that there are many unsigned first rounders including, JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Darrelle Revis, Calvin Johnson and Jon Beason. I was wondering at what point do unsigned draft choices become a free agent, is it after training camp, or some preseason date or is it at the end of the season they are drafted in.
Rich Cummings

Players remain under the control of the team that drafted them until the follow year's draft. So if Russell or Johnson chose not sign all year, and their teams chose not to deal them, even then they would simply re-enter the draft.
Paul Perillo

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