We often speak about the pending free agency of Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins … but about Stephen Gostkowski? Nobody seems to mention him at all. Shouldn't the Pats try to extend him now rather than at the end of the year? I don't think the franchise tag will be an option for him since that will probably be used for Wilfork. It would be a shame to lose a kicker that is clearly improving every year. What do you think will happen?
I actually think he's the more likely guy to receive the franchise tag. At less than $3 million it's much more affordable for a kicker and the option of using at that position has obviously been used in the past (twice) with Adam Vinatieri. I'd rather see the Patriots sign him to a long-term deal and I believe that will happen – again, once the Patriots are more comfortable with the direction of the new CBA landscape and such. I'm not convinced that Wilfork will be franchised but there's a long way to go before these decisions are made. The Patriots have more than a few high-profile pending free agents and it will interesting to see how Belichick & Co. deal with all of them.
Peter King said in his MMQB piece that Brady was underpaid and up for a new contract soon. I wanted to know what Brady's contract situation was and do you think the Pats will definitely sign him long term or is there an unspeakable chance of him slipping out the door when he becomes a FA? Thanks, you guys are great!Kelsey Lindholm
I wouldn't worry too much about that right now, Kelsey. Brady has two years left on his deal, and with all of the pending free agents we just talked about coming up, as well as the possibility of the new CBA, the timing might not be right for a Brady extension. The Peter King item was a bit misleading in that it discussed only the salaries Brady will earn in 2009 and 2010 in comparison to some others. What it didn't say was how much Brady has already earned through that contract. For example, let's say Brady signed a six-year, $60 million contract with about $26 in bonuses (this is approximately the deal he did sign back in 2005. Another quarterback might have signed a similar deal but didn't get as much up front, meaning his salaries in the later years of the deal could be higher than Brady's. King used Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb as his examples and both of those guys make more than Brady. But using two specific years as a barometer, as King did, doesn't tell the full story. I'd bet that Brady made a lot more than McNabb in 2005 and 2006 when he received $14.5 million to sign and $12 million for a roster bonus. So you can understand my point about how contracts can be misleading.
The Patriots will likely want to extend Brady at some point but they also would likely want to see him on the field after such a major knee injury before they do so. Brady says he wants to play for 10 more years, and I'd doubt the Patriots would want him doing that anywhere but Foxborough.
I haven't heard much this offseason regarding Kevin Faulk, is he under contract for the 2009 season? I think he is a valuable asset to the offense, and I hope he is still a member of the current season's roster.Christopher Simmons III
Faulk is indeed still in the fold and looking forward to starting his 11th season with the Patriots. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, so there's a chance this could be his last in New England, but Faulk says he's in great shape and expects to be a big part of the offense once again in 2009.
Vince Wilfork says he's not looking for an Albert Haynesworth contract and that he wants to retire as a Patriot. What kind of money do you think it will take to get it done and how much money do the Patriots have to work with to stay under the cap. *Tom Crane*
I'm not as concerned about the cap space as I am about what it would take to get it done. There are always ways to work deals to make them cap friendly, provided Wilfork is being truthful about his demands. If he's looking for Haynesworth money (about $41 million in guarantees), I don't think he'll get that from the Patriots – and I don't think he should. But if he OK with something about the deal that Richard Seymour signed four years ago, which will pay him around $30 million, then I'd think that would work. Wilfork's value on the open market might get him into Haynesworth territory, however, so the Patriots might need to address the situation before they let it get to that point. I'd be willing to give him four years and $33 million with about $25 of that guaranteed. The questions to be answered are, would Wilfork be willing to take it and would the Patriots offer it?
If next year indeed is an uncapped year, would it be possible to sign a free agent to a long-term deal, and pay that player 70 percent or 80 percent of the total salary in the uncapped season and pay the rest in the years that follow?John Opitz
The simple answer to that is yes, it would be possible. But why would you want to? Basically, that would amount to giving a guy a guaranteed contract. If a player has already received 70 percent of his contract before he takes a snap, and then doesn't pan out (or gets injured), you're stuck having already paid all that money. And few teams would want to pay out such a large sum of money to one player all at once. It's one thing to give a guy a $10 million signing bonus and on a $60 million deal; it's another to hand him roughly $45 million up front (75 percent). I don't see this fad sweeping the NFL next season if we wind up having an uncapped year. In fact, I wouldn't anticipate any wild spending sprees at all since the cap will be presumably returning at some point.