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Ask PFW: Looking at FA corners

Cornerback is a position of need for the Patriots and there are some intriguing options on the free agent market.

With FA about to hit and a lot of options on the market who are some people that could be signed that haven't really been talked about so far? I like Antonio Cromartie coming from the Jets or Sean Smith coming from KC. Both are good solid coverage guys with size that would help on the other side of Malcolm Butler and allow Logan Ryan to really just sit in the slot, where he is pretty good. Also could Roddy White get a call? He's up in age but could still be an asset.

Doug Somers*

Well that depends on what you've heard, and when it comes to Patriots possibilities in free agency there haven't been many options that haven't at least been brought up briefly. That includes all three of your options, which have been discussed by Patriots fans at various times. Personally I don't like any of those options, with Smith being the one possible exception. Cromartie hasn't been anywhere near as effective in recent seasons and I don' believe he'd be a good fit in Foxborough for a variety of reasons. Smith has good size but I don't feel he's a great cover man either. I'd put him ahead of Cromartie, and doesn't carry the baggage Cromartie does, but I think there are better options (Casey Hayward, Brandon Boykin, Janoris Jenkins) depending on the amount of money the Patriots would be willing to spend. Tarell Brown also could return. As for White, I'd have been very excited about five years ago but he certainly looks like a guy who's at or very near the end of the line. He had just 43 catches and one touchdown last season. The Falcons absolutely love him and yet still they let him go. That should tell you something.
Paul Perillo

Do you believe the loss of the first-round pick will see a change in strategy from Bill Belichick? He has been known to 'reach' for players, Jordan Richards last year for example, that would fit in New England when conventional draft wisdom states that these players should be drafted later. This year will we see 'safer' (in quotations as there is no such thing as a safe pick right?) picks that follow more analysts draft boards to compensate for the loss of a high pick? If Jordan Richards couldn't find a role last year with the lack of depth at linebacker and safety (a hybrid role similar to that of Deone Bucannon was suggested when he came out of the draft) then is this the year to play it safe?

Alex Marr*

I don't believe the loss of the draft pick will have impact on Belichick's draft strategy whatsoever. Obviously losing the pick itself will have a huge impact, especially since Belichick has been excellent in the first round. But in terms of how he decides to make his picks/evaluates talent I don't think anything will change. Fans and media may view certain players are reaches when it comes to the draft but teams don't. When Belichick opts to select a player he's not interested where the draft experts have that player tabbed to go; he's only interested in how that player fits his needs. I don't think that will change just because the Patriots don't have a first-round pick.
Paul Perillo

If the judges decide in favor of the NFL in their recent appeal, what are the Patriots options going forward?

Doug Stone*

Regardless of which side wins this latest appeal the whole ordeal may not end there. The loser would be able to request a hearing from the entire Second Circuit or even the Supreme Court. Of course there's a chance that it could be thrown back into Judge Richard Berman's lap at some point, and there's also a chance that the higher courts could refuse to hear any further appeals, which would mean this would be the end. I don't know if either side would want to continue it at that point anyway, but there would still be appeal options for both sides. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that, but based on what we've seen to this point it probably will.
Paul Perillo

How exactly can Patriots fans convince the Krafts to permanently restore our real logo and uniforms and forever retire the flying Elvis (Memphis Elvis' Arena Ball retread uglys)? Perhaps a signature petition? 99.9 percent of us want this now and have hated putting up with this the last 23 years.

Rob Floyd*

I'll pass along your concerns the next time I get a chance to chat to the brass but I don't think the current look is going anywhere anytime soon. There are certainly a lot of passionate people who enjoy the old Pat Patriot logo but there are also a lot of fans – most of them much younger – who grew up with Elvis and prefer that one. But like I said, I'll pass along the info.
Paul Perillo

What do you see the Patriots doing at No. 2 corner this upcoming season? Do you see them drafting a guy, signing a guy or rolling with what they have in Logan Ryan? What did you think of Tarell Brown in his limited time last year?  Is he a possible option going forward?

Rusty Shackleford*

I believe the Patriots need additional depth at corner and preferably need someone to upgrade Logan Ryan as the No. 2 corner. I'd like to see the Patriots draft one fairly early (Round 2 or 3) and add one in free agency. Brown could also be back in that mix but I'd like to add more than just him to the equation. We really didn't get to see much of Brown last summer because his playing time was sporadic due to the foot injury that ultimately cost him the season. At times he looked like a contributor but never for any significant stretch. I feel like the Patriots were fortunate that Butler and Ryan remained healthy all season last year and rolling the dice again would seem like an unwise move. And say hi to Hank and the gang for me …
Paul Perillo

I think that a better choice instead of Matt Forte for the Patriots would be Spencer Ware. Matt Forte is injury prone and might just be a waste of money when Spencer Ware is just as good and is going to ask for less money than Matt Forte. I don't know if LeGarrette Blount is going to play next year but Ware will probably ask for less money than him too. If you look at all of these running backs salaries in 2015 it just proves my point. If the Patriots were to somehow get him they would save $7 million just by not getting Matt Forte.

Connor LaPlante*

On what planet is Spencer Ware just as good as Matt Forte? Ware has less than a full season of action under his belt in his three years while Forte has been one of the most productive all-around backs in football. Ware would be cheaper and he's younger but every other factor is strongly in Forte's camp. And Ware is also under contract in Kansas City so I'm not sure how the Patriots could get him even if they agreed with you. He did a nice job of filling in for Jamaal Charles last year but I don't see how he's a better option than Forte. And your injury-prone Forte has missed four games in the last four years. He may wind up being too expensive but he'd be a perfect fit in New England.
Paul Perillo

I have been going back over the Bill Belichick era in my mind in terms of "surprise" trades, and thinking back there have been some whoppers - many of us as fans not in the know, questioned. Trade value is apparently a way of business, valuable commodity for Coach. My question is, what does past experience lead us to in this year with no first-round pick, and a roster with some but not a ton of holes. With such a deep draft class on defense it just feels like someone is soon to be packing. Is there a Lawyer in the house? My question for you guys is this, do you think it is more likely than not, especially this year?

Michael Monk*

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia*

Trying to predict what Belichick will do in terms of trades is extremely difficult as few if any of us saw the moves like Richard Seymour's trade happening before it took place. There's been a lot of speculation that someone like Chandler Jones could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure that qualifies as a huge surprise given his contract status. Beyond that, I couldn't even try to predict.
Paul Perillo

For all Patriots business savvy, they have one of the highest dead money totals in the league. It is partly due to the team taking chances on several marginal free agents and then letting them go. Frankly, I do not understand this approach. I would rather have Pats have their draft choices play than pay even "modest" millions to guys like Scott Chandler, Dane Fletcher and others, and then cut them resulting in dead money. And I never understand how do you pay someone like Marcus Cannon millions per year? If they now cut him, Pats will have even more dead money which they could surely use to sign players.

Stan C.*

I'm not sure what your idea of marginal free agents that cost the team a lot in terms of dead money comes from. Scott Chandler? He wasn't a huge money signing and hasn't cost the team big bucks now that he's been released ($1 million). Fletcher is even less than that as a veteran minimum guy, and there's no dead money because he's a free agent. I agree with you about Cannon's contract. That's more than I'd like to pay for a backup tackle, but obviously they see him as more than just a backup. Again, I agree with you there. But the dead money total is not that significant and the team has plenty of cap dollars to spend how it pleases.
Paul Perillo

I believe the Pats could solve some of their needs by signing Travis Benjamin and Ladarius Green. What do you think of my choices?

Dave M.*

So with the release of Brandon LaFell, do you think WR becomes more of a concern this offseason? I think so. With Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola at the top they still don't have that big, outside guy. Chris Harper and Brian Tyms showed some flashes but I think they should look elsewhere for help. The Falcons just released Roddy White and I think he would be a great pick up. He played a solid roll as the No. 2 man to Julio Jones the past few years and in the Falcons playoff run a few years back too. I could see him playing well alongside Edelman, Amendola and Rob Gronkowski. What do you think?

Jay Mobilia*

I love Green and have been in love with him for a couple of years. I think he's the perfect kind of free agent signing for the Patriots – a guy whose been behind an all-time great n Antonio Gates who's capable of providing more. He'd be behind Rob Gronkowski, which might make it a difficult sell for him if he's looking to spread his wings as a true No. 1 tight end. But he's willing to remain in a complementary role I think he'd make some sense for the Patriots. Benjamin seems like a one-trick pony to me … great speed and big-play ability but not an overly polished route-runner. The Patriots need an outside-the-numbers threat who can provide an option when teams bunch up the middle. I feel Benjamin is strictly a deep threat – and he's was good at it last year despite having questionable quarterbacks throwing him the ball. His numbers would suggest he's going to get some attention on the market, but I'd rather look at players like Rishard Matthews or Marvin Jones (although I think Jones is going to get some money too). I don't think White has anything left in the tank and I'd pass on him and Tyms is already gone.
Paul Perillo

I think that you all should go for Matt Forte. He is the best free agent back out there.

Floyd Smith*

Violent agreement here. Forte seems like the perfect Patriots back with the ability to run between the tackles and catch the ball. His presence on the field wouldn't dictate what the Patriots did in terms of running and passing. The questions are his age (he's 30) and his contract (how much does he want?). If the sides can work out a reasonable deal, I love the idea.
Paul Perillo

Just thinking about potential camp veterans/fourth receivers. What about Nate Washington? Stayed healthy his entire career almost and he only signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Houston last year so would be available.  He averages at least 600 yards per season and has been relatively (emphasis on relatively!) productive no matter who he has played with.

Luke O'Brien in Cork*

I like Washington as a possible outside threat. He has been pretty much what you described and playing in Houston gives him at least some foundation of the Patriots offensive system. I take a shot.
Paul Perillo

Do you think the Browns would accept a trade giving the Pats No. 2 overall for Jimmy Garrapolo and a second- or third-rounder? The Browns are probably going to draft a QB anyway and Jimmy G has shown a lot of potential.

C.J. Heim*

Great news for the Patriots this week with many rare high profile trades around the league. I'd love to see the Patriots trade Chandler Jones for two seconds and sign Mario Williams for 2/3-year deal around $25 million and take a flyer on a "true" WR.  Also, how about sending Jimmy G to Cleveland for a first-rounder next year?

Mike Lloyd*

I know a lot of people are looking to get a high pick for Garoppolo but I'm not sure what he's worth on the market at this stage. He simply hasn't played any meaningful snaps so I'm not sure how a team like Cleveland could justify coughing up such a high pick to get a quarterback who is largely unproven. I'd also worry about the Patriots backup situation at that point. I'm not sure I'd make that move just yet.
Paul Perillo

Great job guys! Pats fan from New Jersey. I was wondering being that the Patriots don't have a first draft pick, will the Pats draft party at Foxborough be cancelled?

Jason Owens*

You are correct. There will be no draft party open to the public this year.
Paul Perillo


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