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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 16 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 21 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Labor pains

The labor strife may have created some questions but Patriots fans still have more than a few ideas on how to improve the team next season and this week's "Ask PFW" mailbag takes a look at many of them.


I would be shocked it Patriots paid Mankins $10-plus million next year under the tag. My question is - can they deal him for some pick given the hefty compensation he wants?
Seth Goldin

Why wouldn't the Patriots pay him $10 million for a season? It would cost more to sign him to a long-term deal and they've already offered him that and Mankins turned it down. If the Patriots were to give him a significant signing bonus, which is what any long-term deal would entail, that would surely make his 2011 take greater than $10 million. While I don't rule out the possibility of a trade, I do believe Mankins will be part of the team next season whether he plays under the franchise tag or eventually agrees to a contract extension.
Paul Perillo

I have two questions to ask: 1 - hoping that next season will be played regularly, what are the chances that the Patriots will play in preseason on the West Coast as I will be there in the summer? 2 - I love seeing the old Pat Patriot red uniforms - will they be used for some regular-season games again next season? I hope more than only two games.
Henry Enrico

Unfortunately I can't answer either of your questions with any certainty at this time. It is doubtful that the Patriots would head to the West Coast for a preseason game, though. The league usually tries to keep the teams relatively close during the preseason. As an example the Patriots have played the Giants, Eagles and Redskins frequently over the past several seasons. It's not impossible for this to change but I'd consider it unlikely. As for Pat Patriot, the team hasn't yet mentioned any plans to wear throwbacks next season. I wouldn't be surprised if they wind up doing it at some point.
Paul Perillo

My question is about the 18-game season. I think the owners will get their way on this point eventually, how do you see it, and how do you think the structure will be? Vince Wilfork argued that it will become a 20-game season if they change two preseason games to regular, and I see his point. Then I read a proposal of limiting every player to 16 games, so they could rest in two games, but that could create tons of problems with injuries, schedule and gambling-matchfixing issues. What about introducing another bye week so each team would get one in Week 4-8 and 10-14? I think that could help to rest the players and avoid more injuries, they are banged up enough after 16 games as it is. How would you structure an 18-game season? Thanks for the offseason coverage, it makes the time pass.
Søren Terkildsen

I don't like the idea of an 18-game season but it seems as if it's inevitable. I already think the overall level of play around the league is down and one major reason for that is injuries. Every team is beat up by the time December rolls around and adding two regular-season games is only going to exacerbate the problem. They would have to have to bye weeks to break it up but I don't think that will help much in the way of wear and tear. I agree with your views on the limiting of players. Imagine going to a game when Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would be unavailable due to these constrictions. No one would to see the Patriots and Colts play each other with those guys in street clothes. There's nothing wrong with the 16-game season and hopefully things will get straightened out.
Paul Perillo

Thanks for the great stuff as always. With all of the mock drafts and everyone guessing who each team will target, what are the chances the Pats move on someone like Mark Ingram? I remember a lot of talk about him earlier in the season, but with the great output from BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Danny Woodhead I wasn't sure if tailback would be such a high priority anymore. I agree with you that we definitely need a pass rush, but it's been some time since we've had a franchise running back. Thoughts?
Stephen Bell

I think the Patriots could use a major upgrade at running back, I just don't think Ingram is worth it. He's a quality college back who was productive playing at a high level. But he's taken a lot of hits and I'm not sure he's quick and fast enough to be a truly elite runner at the NFL level. I think he'll be a solid player but drafting a guy in the first round you have to expect more than that. I look at Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson when I think of first-round running backs. I don't see that kind of potential when I watch Ingram. But he is a good player and had the luxury of being coached by Bill Belichick protégé Nick Saban at Alabama, so you never know.
Paul Perillo

What are the chances the Patriots will sign Plaxico Burress once he's out of the slammer and reinstated? I know the thought of the guy brings bad memories from 2007, but he'd add a dimension the Pats missed after Randy Moss' departure and open things up for Deion Branch, Wes Welker and the tight ends. Also, the guy will be on good behavior as he knows he's on his last strike. If not Plaxico, what about Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards? They clearly showed their skill this year making the average Mark Sanchez a game-winning threat. Signing one of these guys might conserve a high draft pick that could be used to add depth or be packaged for a top-five pick that would get the pass rushing stud the team has sorely missed. Don't you think this would make better sense than drafting a receiver high?Michael Power

I'd rather sign a proven free agent receiver than draft one high – on that we agree. I want no part of Burress, however. How can anyone be sure of his ability after missing so much time? He hasn't so much as caught a pass in more than two years. Are you sure he'd be able to open things up given that layoff? I'm not. I'd be interested in Holmes but not Edwards. Holmes is a proven winner who has been at his best when games are on the line. Edwards is mistake-prone and can be a problem in the locker room at times. The problem with Holmes is he's one strike away from missing an entire season as well. So none of this group is a sure thing. But I understand your point about exploring free agency and using the draft to shore up the defense. I agree and hope the Patriots do the same thing … perhaps with offensive line being the lone exception.
Paul Perillo

I thought Randy Moss would go last summer, but this summer it has to be Wes Welker for the Richard Seymour shock trade award. Contract coming to an end, coming off injury, we have players who can do what he does, without too much of a drop-off, plus we need a big-play receiver. I say we give his money to Sidney Rice, trade him for highest value, and use Julian Edelman in his role, along with Danny Woodhead and Taylor Price. The shorter routes are great, but we have guys who can do that, we have no one to stretch the field. If we brought back Kevin Faulk for one year, he'd provide more insurance for short yardage throws, along with the tight ends, we'd have more than enough underneath. I like him, but he's taken some shots, his best years are behind him and his trade value will never be higher. It makes economic sense, which is why I think BB makes the trade. We don't need any more young receivers.Simon Jeffrey

It's not often that a trade proposal goes over well with me, but this one may be an exception. I think you make some valid points all around, and I'd love to see Sidney Rice in a Patriots uniform as a free agent signing. That would be the trickiest part of the whole equation as the pending labor situation is going to make free agent signings even more challenging than ever. But I can understand your views on Welker. He's obviously had terrific production but he's entering the final year of his deal and your theory about his best days being in the past may have some validity. I agree with you that the drop-off between he and Edelman would not be that great, so the team could save money on a Welker extension and instead go after Rice, who is a much more dynamic downfield presence. Situations like these are always difficult to manage with so many moving parts, but I'm with Simon on this particular proposal.
Paul Perillo

A couple of months ago you had a gentleman on your radio show that had published a book with all Patriots facts and history. I didn't catch the name of the book or the author's name. I can't seem to find any type of book that fits that description. Is the book available for purchase? And if so, where can I find it? Being in Virginia, I can't get a lot of Patriots news and you guys do a great job of providing us "out of town fans" with the most current and updated information. Thank you again and keep up the good work.
Rusty Spearman

I'm not exactly sure of which book you are speaking of but my assumption would be "Total Patriots: The Definitive Encyclopedia of the World-Class Franchise" by Bob Hyldburg. It contains virtually any Patriots-related factoid any fan could want and is available all over the Internet at and Borders.
Paul Perillo

I just saw that Eric Smith was to be an unrestricted free agent. Do you think he could be a good signing to supplement the group? He would know the Jets schemes and I think he could be a good addition if Brandon Meriweather doesn't get better.
Pierre Steenblik

Smith is a solid, unspectacular player who probably could be re-signed by the Jets for short money. He's a depth player and knows their system, which would make him more attractive to New York than another team. The Patriots actually have a fair amount of depth at safety with Meriweather, James Sanders and Patrick Chung plus returning injured players Brandon McGowan and Josh Barrett. There's probably not enough room for all of those players so adding Smith to the mix would provide depth but not necessarily an upgrade.
Paul Perillo

I just read that Shaun Rogers got cut from the Browns. I don't know how you feel, but he is one of those players that I wish we needed right now. But no, instead we need that elusive pass rushing DE that would be perfect for us. Any other players you can think of that fall into that "Damn, I wish we could make room for him" category?
Justin Marchant

Not sure why you don't think the Patriots could use a talented defensive lineman like Shaun Rogers. He can play in the 3-4 and has done so in the Patriots system based on his time in Cleveland playing for Eric Mangini. The Patriots are thin along the defensive line and a guy like Rogers would make sense, although he also may cost a few bucks and that may not be in the team's interests during these uncertain labor times. But in terms of talent, Rogers would be a perfect fit to play alongside Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork up front.
Paul Perillo

My question regards Nnamdi Asomugha. After watching how Charles Woodson evolved from a straight cornerback, into more of a hybrid cornerback/safety/linebacker role in Dom Capers' scheme in Green Bay, he became a far better player than he ever was in Oakland. Do you think it would be possible that Asomugha could be molded into the same type of player that Woodson became? I think that if the Pats were to sign him and do that, it would change the nature of their defense and make the already good cornerbacks better. What do you guys think?Josh Strzeszkowski

I'm not exactly sure how you are categorizing Woodson as some sort of hybrid player. First, Woodson was an excellent corner in Oakland, making the Pro Bowl in each of the first four seasons of his career. Then he had a few injury shortened seasons before he came to Green Bay and picked up where he left off. He's been terrific as a Packer, going to three more Pro Bowls and earning a Defensive Player of the Year award. But he's still a corner even though he's always had the ability to get to the quarterback via the blitz. Remember who knocked the ball out of Tom Brady's hand on the infamous Tuck Rule play? It was Woodson. So blitzing and lining up in a variety of spots is nothing new for him. At this stage of his career he's likely going to see less time as a true outside corner because time catches up with everyone. That's not the case with Ashomugha, who would be far and away the best corner on the Patriots and would be a terrific partner for Devin McCourty. He's still young and on a quality team would shine based on his coverage skills. Not sure how the Patriots would get him since he'd cost a lot of money, but he'd be a great addition.
Paul Perillo

What's up with Terrence Wheatley? Any chance of seeing him on the field again or is he a lost cause?
Erik Lesko

The Patriots released Wheatley midway through last season. He signed with Jacksonville last November and has been the Jaguars ever since.
Paul Perillo

Kyle Arrington was a decent cornerback last year. I thought he was a good tackler and he had good speed. He also seemed to catch the ball well. Do you think he has the talent to switch to free safety? I'd love to see Leigh Bodden return as the starting CB and see Arrington replace Meriweather at safety.Ed Enman

I agree with your assessment of Arrington. He does play a physical style and displayed good ball skills. The problem with him switching to safety may be size. He's listed at 5-10, 196 and that appears to be generous. While that's not much smaller than Meriweather (5-11, 200) it may put him at a disadvantage while trying to cover tight ends and other bigger receivers. But I do believe Arrington is athletic enough to play safety and could handle the role in a pinch. However, I feel safety is one of the deepest spots on the team, certainly on defense, and I don't think there's much of a need to add one. Conversely, with Bodden returning to start with McCourty and Arrington, Darius Butler and perhaps Jonathan Wilhite back to battle for time as the nickel back, corner could become a deep spot as well.
Paul Perillo

Is it true that Drew Bledsoe will be getting his No. 11 jersey retired sometime in the 2011 season? I had read about this on Wikipedia and I wanted to see if you guys could verify if this is indeed true.Vincent Ferullo

I don't think you'll be seeing the Patriots retiring too many numbers in the near future. There were several numbers retired over the past couple of decades and in football it's difficult to do that and keep enough eligible numbers for the current players. Tom Brady will perhaps be an exception to this line of thinking, but I don't see too many others. Bledsoe won't be getting his number retired next season so Julian Edelman can go on wearing the No. 11 without worry.
Paul Perillo

I'm a Drew Bledsoe fan and while I was recently viewing the QB's stats on the Hall of Fame website I noticed he was listed as one of the best to ever play the game. Most of his accomplishments have him in the top 10. Is he worthy of the Hall?
David Studer

It's been a big Drew Bledsoe day today in the mailbag – maybe that's because yesterday was his birthday (is that creepy?) David, no one is a bigger Bledsoe fan than me. I still have a poster of him on my desk in my office – that's how much of a Bledsoe fan I am (that's definitely creepy). But he is not worthy of election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While his numbers place him among the game's all-time best, he was simply a very good quarterback and not a great one. He was too inconsistent to be considered anything more than that. I feel he will be elected into the Patriots Hall of Fame next season when he becomes eligible, and he'll probably need a restraining order to keep me at a safe distance when that happens.
Paul Perillo

In regards to our safety position: Don't you think that trading Meriweather would be in the best interests of the team for the present as well as the future. Both he and James Sanders have only one more year on their contracts, IMO Sanders is more reliable. I don't see Meriweather back in a Pats uniform next year so I would rather get something for him now seeing as that Sanders and Meriweather both play essentially the same position. If they were to trade Meriweather, I think they could receive a high-to-mid second.
Matt Homsy

The safety position continues to get a lot of attention today. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to trading Meriweather, although I'm not nearly as optimistic as you with regard to potential compensation. He's a reckless player who consistently takes bad angles and gets beaten in coverage. While he has two Pro Bowl berths on his resume, I'm not sure he's thought off well enough to garner a second-round pick. But stranger things have happened. Sanders is due $2.8 million in 2011 and that may be rich for the Patriots blood. But he's a far more reliable player, as you stated, and in my view offers more to the team than Meriweather. Both could be free agents after the 2011 season but I'd rather have Sanders playing with Patrick Chung with the possibility of adding injured players like Brandon McGowan and Josh Barrett to the mix next year.
Paul Perillo

Is there any chance of either drafting a quarterback or getting a free agent like Troy Smith? Brian Hoyer just won't cut it. He's not good enough?
Vincent Iocovozzi

How do you know how good Hoyer is at this point? He's barely played while backing up Brady, so I'm not sure how anyone other than a coach could make such an evaluation. On the other hand, Troy Smith has played and he hasn't been very good. I'd take Hoyer, who will be entering his third season in the system, over Smith without question. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't be interested in drafting a quarterback and trying to develop him while Brady plays out the remainder of his career. With all those picks I'd be surprised if Belichick didn't try to land one come April.
Paul Perillo

Do you think that one of the biggest reasons the Patriots lost to the Jets during the playoffs was due to the lack of a big Pro Bowl receiver? Because when I watched the game, it seemed like no one could get open. I mean, Tom Brady, the best quarterback of the decade, could not find ANYONE open, and he had plenty of time to do so! I fear that if the Pats do not upgrade their group of WRs, then opposing teams will do exactly what the Jets did basically the whole game, which is play straight man to man. It worked for Green Bay when we played them (and ALMOST lost), it worked for the Jets, and it can work again. And if it can work again, it will work again for some other team. Many of the sacks and incompletions during the Jets game were coverage sacks and defended passes. Our WRs have agility and elusiveness, but when matched up against other Pro Bowl CBs we need someone who has the big size to beat the jam and really just win the matchup due to physical mismatch.David Guerra

You mean like Randy Moss? The guy who many believed was the reason the Patriots couldn't find success when playing against the Jets way back in Week 2 when Brady was "forcing it deep to Moss?" Look, there are flaws with virtually any offensive attack and one with the current Patriots is they lack a legitimate downfield threat. Partly due to that teams with solid corners like the Jets and Packers were able to slow them down. Green Bay actually allowed just 17 points when eliminating the Kyle Arrington pick-six and Dan Connolly's near touchdown off a kick return. But few teams have that kind of talented depth in the secondary. Not everyone can take away the variety of options the Patriots offense has. Until more teams are slowing down the Patriots attack I wouldn't worry about any blueprints created to stop it. Could the team use a talented deep threat like Moss in his prime? Of course, anyone could. But I don't believe that's the team's most glaring need at this point. I wouldn't be surprised to see Belichick try to add to the receiving corps, but not necessarily for the reasons you stated.
Paul Perillo

I think the Pats are suffering from the immobility of our QB. All the other QBs out there can and do take off, roll out, or otherwise move about in order to give their team the edge. I really think that Tom Terrific needs to heal up fully and then to be a bit more aggressively mobile. Even rolling offers advantages that the Pats could really use to exploit their opponents.
Todd Donaldson

I couldn't disagree more. Brady's mobility has certainly been hampered after he tore his ACL in 2008, but that's hardly stopped him the last two seasons. He was the NFL's MVP in 2010 and he didn't need to improvise and make plays on the run in order to do that. He led the most productive offense in football and did so without the ability to run. He has always moved well in the pocket and he continues to do so today. That's all the mobility he needs … much like Peyton Manning does in Indy by the way. It's true the two Super Bowl quarterbacks – Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers – both move quite well but it's not the reason for their success. Both are able to make throws while under duress, as is Brady, and that's why their teams win. Sure, an extra step or two to allude the rush would benefit Brady, but it's not going to happen at this stage of his career.
Paul Perillo

Just wondering what happens when Stephen Gostkowski gets healthy. Will he be the one to stay?
Amanda Cowton

Yes, and that's evidently closer to happening than most of us thought. Gostkowski spent some time recently kicking with Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis inside the Dana-Farber Field House and he appears to be well on his way to a full recovery from the torn quad that ended his season early.
Paul Perillo

My question is should the Patriots package a second and two third-round picks for an elite DE like Osi Umenyiora or Justin Tuck, who are big and athletic enough to play OLB in the Patriots system?Kiko Jimenez

I'm not sure I would give all that up to get one of those players, but if that's what it takes to add a dynamic pass rusher then I'd have to consider it – especially after Andy Hart talked me into it. I do agree that they may be able to step in and perform in the Patriots system as edge players, but I don't see either having enough quickness to operate in space as a true OLB in coverage as the Patriots need. Tuck in particular at 275 pounds would have a difficult time playing that way. But in terms of pass rushing, both would be nice fits coming off the edge and the Patriots sorely need that.
Paul Perillo

What do you think the chances are of the Patriots trading there 28th pick and Ty Warren and shipping them to Houston for Mario Williams? The guy is an elite pass rusher coming off of a decent season and he's young.Aaron O'Neill

I think you answered your own question … Williams is an elite pass rusher who is young. Therefore, why would Houston want to trade him? Warren is coming off hip surgery and wouldn't be worth much on the open market until he proves that he's healthy. And Williams was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft so dealing No. 28 for him wouldn't seem to represent fair value. Again, Houston is looking for more players like Mario Williams, not to deal them.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering if Andre Johnson is available via trade. The Texans won't win a Super Bowl anytime soon, and the Patriots are a clear contender to win it all next year. Do you BB making either a trade now or on draft day for Andre Johnson? It would get rid of our need for a receiver who can stretch the field, and he would be here for many years to come. Also, I was wondering about the Patriots kicker situation. They have two kickers in Shayne Graham and Stephen Gostkowski, so would the Patriots cut one of them, or would they have one to do kickoffs and one to do FGs?Ben Poore

Another Houston Texans question … that has to be some sort of record. Like I said previously, why would the Texans want to trade their best player? For that matter, in today's NFL where teams can rebuild overnight, why won't the Texans win anything any time soon? They have as good a chance as any of the non-playoff teams to turn it around next season. Many people believed they would contend for the division this year, so seeing them surge into contention in 2011 would not be unrealistic. As for the kicker situation, if and when Gostkowski is healthy the job is his. Graham was a temporary fill in and he did his job well, but Gostkowski is the far more talented kicker.
Paul Perillo

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