Official website of the New England Patriots

Ask PFW: Have you seen Asante?

I know everybody sick of Asante questions, but I would like to take a bit different angle. As I was never down on Asante when everybody, including this forum, considered him "a decent #2 corner", I'm not jumping on his bandwagon now when everybody thinks he is another coming of Champ Bailey. I think he is a very good corner who compensates a lack of 1st grade talent with smarts. NFL Network was replaying Colt-Pats conference championship game and I really cannot agree that Asante is as good as he is portrayed. He had a tremendous first half, but in the second half Manning feasted on him - most of the completions, including two-point conversion, were at the expense of #22. I think Ellis Hobbs was more consistent - he may not have had an interception, he covered his side of the field really well. I guess my question is - do you think that Asante deep inside knows it, and wants to capitalize on his one-season wonder? In this case, Pats should not cave in, which is what they are doing. I personally believe he is mostly overrated corner right now. Last three years I thought he was the most underrated. Go figure... If he holds out, so what? I think he probably will as he is afraid of not having the same "full season" as the last one. What do you think?
Gary A

Okay, I just got done reading an interview with Samuel, and although I'm sick to my stomach by his arrogance and his the-world-owes-me attitude, I am interested in knowing: what is he worth? My understanding is that the Pats were offering him somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 mil per year plus incentives, and he was thinking he should be getting at least $10 mil per year guaranteed. So what would he really be worth out in free agency? Just for the record, after reading his interview, I now think I will just "trust in Bill".
Mike Merrell

I feel that New England should pay Samuel. I know this is a hypothetical what if but I bet many people would agree with me that if last year New England kept Deion Branch in the AFC Championship he would of been getting the important passes. On New England's 2nd to last drive the pass that Reche Caldwell dropped in the end zone would of most likely been a pass to Deion with a different result. I know we'll never know but I bet if New England had Deion we would of won the Super Bowl. New England has a good enough team to make it deep into the playoffs without these star players. But at the end of the road when everything's on the line is when you notice their presence. And a player or two is the difference between winning Super Bowls and being runner up. New England has a championship caliber team. If Asante doesn't play I bet all regular season it won't be noticed but in that big game it will. I bet if Robert Kraft could have seen the future last year he would have paid Deion. After all I bet the 40 mill would have been worth another ring.Joe Cordone

Hi PFW, I just wanted to say that while I do not agree with Asante Samuel's (pending) decision to sit out 10 games this season, I can still see where his choice is coming from. Samuel may never get another chance at this type of payday, and with a huge market for corners in the NFL, he will surely be rewarded for his excellent season last year. If he were to sustain an injury or simply perform poorly in '07, it would cost him dearly. Many NFL players do not have marketable skills outside of playing football. Sound investment and management of their player salaries is often the only thing these men have to sustain themselves for their entire lives. We average folks are floored by the huge numbers being thrown around and think players are being greedy when they hold out for more, but we would do the same if it was our only chance in life to provide for our families. While I am angry that he is deserting his team, I would not want to see Samuel get hurt, lose his big contract chance and read about him being homeless 10 years from now. We have all seen the stories about NFL pensioners, untimely deaths and the depression that runs rampant among NFL retirees. I really hope that Asante comes around and plays this (whole) season, because I think he can be great and another year like last year will guarantee his payday and ensure him a long and healthy life after football.
Prasad Patil

Opinions on the Asante Samuel situation continue to be as varied as they are numerous. Fans run the spectrum from thinking he's a greedy bum to hoping the team opens the vault and pays him. While a long-term extension is no longer an option for this season, the sides can continue to negotiate and a positive outcome is still not out of the question. Stay tuned.
Addressing the specific questions/thoughts of these individual emails, I'll start with Gary A.'s assertion that Samuel is overrated. I have to disagree. I never saw Manning feast on Samuel. I think the two-point conversion was a great play by the offense that any corner would have struggled to cover (Don't forget, the Colts offense is pretty good now!) and I don't think Hobbs has ever been more consistent than Samuel. In my eyes Samuel has shown potential and talent throughout his four years of incremental development in New England as he moved from rookie contributor all the way up to No. 1 corner. Was last year's impressive production an aberration? That's possible. But arguing that Hobbs is even in Samuel's league after what the two players did last season is almost laughable. Even disregarding the numbers, Samuel had a great year. Hobbs has potential and Patriots fans should only hope that he develops as well as Samuel has. And no I don't think that deep inside Samuel believes he played above his head last season. He's as confident as any corner in the game, even if he doesn't voice it as often as guys like Hobbs do. He believes he's one of the best. Last season he was.
Now it's on to Mike Merrell's misguided musings. Reports do have the Patriots in the $6 million average salary range and Samuel looking for something closer to a $10 million average. But the big issue is the money in the first few years of the contract. Samuel, like most free agents is looking for security through bonus and virtually guaranteed income. He's not looking for "at least $10 mil per year guaranteed," as Mike writes. But $30 million in the first three years, including signing bonus, option/roster bonuses and salary, is probably what Samuel's camp feels the going rate is. Not the $30 million total deal that the Patriots have reportedly offered. And if he got to truly unrestricted free agency, without the limitations of the franchise tender that would require other interested teams give up two first-round picks to sign Samuel, my guess is that he'd get bonus money in the range of $17-plus million and three-year money in the deal in the range of $25-plus million. But that's just my opinion. What do I know?
On to Joe's comments in relation to Samuel and last season's Deion Branch fiasco. I do think the Patriots regretted how the Branch saga played out, but I'm still not sure they would have handed him the money he was looking for. It's still about value. Could they have won it all with Branch? Maybe. Would his contract have limited them at other spots moving forward? Probably. So while they came up short last winter in Indy, the team was able to restock at receiver this offseason with comparable talent at a lower cost for an overall deeper corps of wideouts. I also think that, as the lack of depth around the league shows, cornerback is a more valuable position. That's even truer if you think you have an elite, No. 1 cornerback. Those guys are few and far between. If Samuel doesn't play the first 10 weeks, I do think it will be noticed. The defense won't be as good and it could cost the team a game against a key rival that will hurt when it comes to postseason seeding in the conference. Matchups in the first 10 weeks against the Jets, Chargers, Bengals and Colts would all be more favorable propositions with Samuel in uniform and those games could be the difference between earning one of the top two seeds come January or having to take to the road to get to Super Bowl XLII.
Finally we get to Prasad's very open minded look at the Samuel situation. Like Prasad, I can see both sides of this negotiation. The Patriots have the collectively bargained right to use the franchise tag. Doing so is just smart business while negotiating with Samuel and at the very least buying another year to assess his value. Samuel has the right to want to get paid and coming off a career year should be looking for as much money as he can get. That's how it works. But he's also a member of the NFLPA that negotiated the franchise tag. If he, or any other player dislikes the tag, they should complain to their union reps. Like Prasad I hope this issue can work itself out in the end. Sooner or later one side or the other (or both) may need to give in some to reach some sort of compromise and get Samuel on the field. The Patriots are a better team with Samuel in the lineup. That's a fact and in the end that's really all Patriots fans care about.
Andy Hart

I know Tom Casale flatly rejected this idea, but why not bring Dillon back with a one-year contract? Yes, he couldn't stay on the field for more than two plays but he still led the team in rushing and he had 13 TDs! Personally I'd like to have him back to bruise fools down on the goal line where Laurence Maroney would probably hobble off with a toe injury or some other nonsense. Maroney hurt his ankle, knee and ribs last season-- if that's not a sign of fragility I don't know what is. I looked at the stats of all the great modern day running backs, and the almost every one that played significant time suffered no injuries at all in their rookie years, they played in all sixteen games. With bringing Dillon back, I suspect the issue is partially money, partially pride-- Dillon wants to be paid and treated like a lead back. It seems to me that the coaching staff did a great job of massaging his ego last year, why not do it another year until we have a better sense of Maroney's durability? I hope the Patriots are not planning on going into games when Maroney is hurt with Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and Heath Evans as their backs. Can you say "one-dimensional?" If not Dillon, who do you think the Patriots might pick up, perhaps picking up a cut from another team late in training camp or trading (they have some depth at other positions) or otherwise?Alex Merrill

I do think the depth behind the unproven Maroney on the roster is a concern. But I don't think we need to be taking cheap shots at the second-year starter. I also don't' remember his ankle injury. He split time with Dillon, who started 13-of-16 games. Dillon led the team in rushing because he had 24 more carries. Maroney had a better average per carry (4.3 to Dillon's 4.1). Maroney led the team in rushing in half the games he played in, despite not starting a single contest. And as far as your little shot about Maroney hobbling off with toe injury, is that any worse than Dillon simply asking out of the game after every other carry or breaking into the open field only to look to run out of bounds while opposing defenders are laughing at him?
Maroney has never carried the load by himself and his injuries as a rookie are clearly a concern. But I think the door is closed on the Dillon chapter in New England. Let's remember, the team released him. Based on what we've heard he didn't have any interest in being a backup to Maroney and getting many fewer carries per game. While he scored 13 touchdowns last fall, Dillon is clearly no longer an every down, lead back. I know he's still in denial of that fact, as are some fans, but the evidence tells the real truth.
I do share your concerns if Maroney goes down for any length of time. None of the backups are ready to carry the load 20-plus times. But the Patriots have survived a lack of depth at running back in the past. Guys like Michael Cloud and Rabih Abdullah scored touchdowns for this team during Super Bowl seasons. So while the depth at running back isn't ideal, the team could probably get by for a week or two. And let's not forget that guys like Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Benjamin Watson and the rest of the passing game might be able to carry a bit more of the offensive load in a pinch as well. If a veteran back becomes available the Patriots will probably show interest, as they did with Chris Brown this spring. But I don't think it's quite the portrait of dire circumstances that Alex paints.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW!!! I enjoy reading all your information it is very helpful. With all of the versatility at linebacker who do you think the starting four will be and where they will start at. Adalius Thomas could pretty much start anywhere and be effective. I see him starting at OLB with Colvin. The ILB in my opinion are going to be Bruschi and Vrabel. Are these projections right or do you see B.B. going in a different direction. Thanks and keep up the great work!!!
Brady Kullen

Making my guess prior to the start of camp, I'd say Thomas and Colvin start on the outside with Vrabel and Bruschi inside. That leaves Junior Seau to rotate through off the bench and Thomas and Vrabel to move around in various sub packages. I do think we will see a variety of different lineups at linebacker with at least five guys to play four spots on regular downs. I also wouldn't be shocked to see younger faces like Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods get a little run in spot duty.
Andy Hart

Finally, something not about Samuel! How Kareem Brown, because the front 3 of Wilfork, Seymour, and Warren is secure and very feared among NFL teams, possibly the best DL in the NFL. Is Brown's status a permanent backup unless injury? Earlier, I was watching game film of Kareem and I noticed that he played WAY too far up in his stance at DT. This made him prone to cut blocks and his poor ball recognition skills didn't help. Thus, Brown cannot be a NT backup for Wilfork and I think he is strictly a DE now?Akshat Shekhar

I think Brown is in the mix as a backup defensive lineman, although the real spot that's lacking is at nose tackle. Mike Wright has seen action there in Wilfork's absence, but it's certainly not his ideal role. I wouldn't worry too much about Brown playing high and reacting slowly in college. If he does that in the NFL, at either end or nose, he won't be around long. I think his physical makeup and abilities do make him a candidate for potential development at nose. If he develops, he could have some position flexibility as Seymour, Warren, Jarvis Green and Wright have shown early in their careers. We'll see what he has once the banging begins in training camp and preseason action. But you are right, the top three spots, even the top five, on the Patriots defensive line depth chart are set. Seymour, Warren and Wilfork form arguably the best starting front in the game and Green and Wright have proven their value as backups.
Andy Hart

Why do so many long-term contracts have significant payments towards the end of the contract which everyone knows will very likely never be paid because of renegotiations or the player being cut? Is the agent's compensation based on the total amount of the contract, regardless of the likelihood to the client's receiving the total amount?
Ron Mayer

It's about agents, Ron. But it's about their egos and PR, not their compensation. Agents are paid based on what players actually receive in compensation, not the fictional dollars that so many deals include. The agents want the fraudulent big numbers included in contracts so that they can pound their chest and brag about the deal that they got their client. In theory it makes them appear to be more successful agents. Many people see through the horse and pony show, but many don't.
Andy Hart

The rules need to change for franchised players, as well as players under contract. For players who are tagged by a team, the player should have three options: sign the one-year tender; negotiate a longer deal; or sit out the season having no chance to return or have any income from the NFL (unemployment, basically). This new deal that the players have worked out with the league gives the players too much power to be able to stab their teams in the back. For players under contract, should they attempt to hold out, they should be banned from football for two seasons (making their contract immediately null and void). I think players will start to respect their contracts and their positions as employees. If they want more money, they will need to produce on the field until it is time to negotiate a new contract. They need honor their jobs and realize that they are NOT above the organizations.
Nathan F.

I don't think I've ever seen a more one-sided, pro-team stance in my life. Nathan, you must be an NFL owner using a fake name and email address. Either that or you are simply blind to the two sides of this debate. I think many players think the franchise tag needs to be changed – or gotten rid of – in their favor. Right now, though, both sides are playing by the franchise tag rules that are in place thanks to the collective bargaining agreement. That means both sides' representatives agreed on it. As far as players having to honor their contracts, why don't teams have to do the same thing? NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. That means, for the most part, players can get cut at any time regardless of what remains of their existing contract. Respect of contracts should be a two-way street, no? And could anyone looking for more money have had a better season heading into free agency than Asante Samuel? Come on Nathan, at least try to look at the situation from both sides.
Andy Hart

Hey guys! Great job keeping us up to date and informed. I saw that Clint Oldenberg received a signing bonus of about $141,000. I have a question about rookie signing bonuses. Say a draftee signs and receives a bonus, but then gets cut during training camp. Do they get to keep the signing bonus for being signed regardless if they play? Or do they have to pay it all back if they are cut early on? Thanks!
Mike Praschak

Signing bonuses are guaranteed and paid out when the deal is signed. The player keeps that money regardless of what happens moving forward, except for special circumstances (i.e. – legal issues, retirement, etc.). For salary cap purposes, if he remains with the team the bonus money is divided out on the cap over the life of the deal. If he's cut, that' accelerated and added to the cap as dead money.
Andy Hart

Hi AskPFW! Thanks for helping keep this New Englander stranded in Raider country in touch with a real football team. I had a question about Asante Samuel and the franchise tag. I know you're probably drowned with such questions, but no one has mentioned this yet... All the media outlets are saying that because the July 16 deadline passed, the Pats and Samuel are now not allowed to sign a long-term deal until after the season. However, I don't technically think this is true. I thought that after the deadline passed, a team could still sign a long-term deal with a franchise player, but if it did so it would lose the use of the franchise tag for the life of contract with that player. Is this the case, or am I getting it mixed up with some other rule, or was this rule eliminated?Mike King

The rule you are talking about refers to the old CBA and the old way in which the franchise tag worked. The new, current CBA included the mid-July deadline for team's to sign their player to a long-term deal. That deadline has passed and removed the long-term deal option for Samuel to sign with New England for this season.
Andy Hart

Perhaps this is more of a comment than a question...on this site and other blogs, I read lots of comments from Pats fans sniping Peyton Manning or deriding the Colts. I'm a long time Pats fan and I actually rooted for the Colts to win the Super Bowl. I guess there were a couple of reasons for this. First, we all know the AFC Championship was the real Super Bowl, a Colts victory over the Bears helped cement that idea. Second, what does it mean to the legacy of the Colts/Pats rivalry now that the Colts have won? What if the Colts and Pats each pull of another Super Bowl victory in the next few years? This rivalry could go down as one of the greatest rivalries in sports history. If we are going to lose in the playoffs, let it be to the team that wins the Super Bowl. How much sweeter will next season's victory over the Colts be with them as defending Super Bowl champs instead of runner ups? I love this rivalry. Go Pats!
Paul Miller

Well said, Paul. While I know it's much harder when your team is losing, for years I have been calling for Patriots fans to enjoy the Colts rivalry for what it is. To this point New England has more titles and therefore has had the upper hand. The tide has turned a bit of late. But I can honestly say that the AFC title game in Indy was the best game I've ever seen in my life. Considering what we've watched in the regular and postseason series in recent years we could be enjoying one of the more interesting NFL championship rivalries of all time. I also think there is a small bit of redemption in losing to the eventual champion. It's better than losing to a team that gets bounced from the playoffs the following week.
So enjoy the Patriots Colts rivalry. It's been the best ticket in football for the four years and counting. It's also on the schedule again this season, a matchup that could be an appetizer to a postseason meeting this January. It includes the two best quarterbacks in the game, the two best teams in the game and two great coaches. History is unfolding before our eyes and while that might not make up for losing last January, it's still pretty cool to witness it.
Andy Hart

Is it true that Dave Thomas is injured? And what kind of injury is it? And how long will he be out as far as regular season games? Thanks
Eli Boumitri

Thomas broke his foot and has been recovering from the injury this spring and summer. As always, we don't get much information on injuries but I don't expect Thomas to miss regular season action because of the injury. We'll find out on Friday if he's ready to start camp, but either way I don't expect him to be held back by the time the regular season rolls around.
Andy Hart

Will you guys be at the practice field during training camp, because I would love to get your autographs. Keep up the great work!!!!!!!!!
Girard Kullen

I figured this week's mailbag could use a little comic relief beyond my own opinions. So, there it is.
Andy Hart

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising