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Ask PFW: Malcolm Butler's contract situation and much more

Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler is reportedly set to push for a new contract. That topic and so many others fill out this sunny edition of Ask PFW!

A happy hello from Germany. First off, I'm very proud two German-born players are actually Patriots. Of course I believe only Seabass will make the team. Now my Question. What kind of deal will work for Malcolm Butler and the Pats long term? Do you think $30 Million for 5 years with $12 Million guaranteed makes both happy?


Friedberg (Germany)

What works for Butler and what works for the Patriots could be two very different things. Butler has played only two seasons as a former undrafted free agent. He would only become a restricted free agent after this coming season. So a deal now would be early, meaning a player usually gives up some money compared to being on the open market. He also gets the security of guaranteed money. It's a real give-and-take negotiation. That said, I don't see $12 million guaranteed getting it done. Guys with far less impressive resumes than Butler average more than $12 million a year. They have three times that guaranteed. So I can't see Butler doing a deal anything like that. Maybe something with a tiered bonus structure? Along the lines of Rob Gronkowski's contract? Really, though, I think the Butler negotiation could be a really difficult one for both sides. Each has a lot of give and to take. It will be interesting to see if Butler pushes the point by utilizing his leverage this summer. has already reported that's a very real possibility. If that's the case, this could get very interesting and maybe even a little ugly. Regardless, it won't be easy.

Andy Hart

I know we won't do it but if you could have your choice of free agents or recently-retired players, who would you suggest the Patriots pursue between Calvin Johnson, Lynch, Percy Harvin or Greg Hardy?

Robert Miles

Gotta say, this is the perfect mailbag question. Love it. And for me the answer is easy. I'd go for Johnson, even though in theory Marshawn Lynch would be the better fit/bigger need. I just don't like him. At all. I wouldn't even consider Harvin or Hardy for very obvious but very different reasons. Johnson is the perfect weapon, a good guy off the field and would add an outside option to the Patriots passing game. He'd make everyone on the offense better by simply lining up. It would potentially be a lot of fun to watch!

Andy Hart

I know the Patriots have a lot of running backs but I know some might get cut later on as the year progresses. My question is what's the chance of getting a back like Arian Foster or Ray Rice? Both are capable of being a 3-down back. Also could the Patriots cut Blount, yes he is a power back but is slow though. Thanks.

Charles Taylor

Does anybody call you Chuck? Just wondering. I do still think there is a good chance the Patriots add a veteran running back at some point this summer. Foster would certainly be an option, though Rice would not. Rice's domestic violence issue had New England owner Robert Kraft eliminating, at that time, the possibility of the running back ever playing for the Patriots. Foster, who created a stir on social media with a family trip to Boston earlier this month, says he's about a month away from being healthy as he works back from a torn Achilles tendon. Another trip to New England, this time for business, can't be ruled out. He's had major injury issues of late, but might be an intriguing part of a committee in Foxborough. That could be with or without Blount. I would not rule out the fact that Blount could be cut if the team added another veteran. He has only $100k or so of guaranteed money, which isn't enough to secure him a roster spot. He needs to win a job, prove he's still capable of being productive and still may be at the mercy of who else might be added to the depth chart.

Andy Hart

Pretty sure I detest, despise and am nauseated by the flying Elvis since it was perpetrated more than any other human being ever...I did not follow and watch the Patriots for 32 years just for them to wear stupid ugly uniforms with a fake replacement of today the team is 0-1 dressed as themselves in Super Bowls. Have thought of initiating a petition, but are there any suggestions or ideas you have to expedite Robert and Jonathan experiencing an epiphany, or otherwise being persuaded (or forced) to restore our real logo and uniforms?

Rob Floyd

I think you are as upset and passionate about this topic as anyone. Sadly, that energy is lost on me. I never really loved the old logo and I'm pretty OK with the new one. I don't expect a return to Pat Patriot any time soon, or ever. I will say, though, that fellow PFW writer Erik Scalavino agrees with you, bringing almost as much passion to the subject that you do. If you start a campaign or petition I'm sure he'd be willing to help you out.

Andy Hart

Hey there, am I the only one who thinks drafting Brissett was a good choice? Yeah I know we could've gotten a RB we need but with Brady not getting any younger, and as much as we don't want to admit it his time is coming to an end within the next few years. It's surely a good time to draft a QB as he can watch and learn from the very best before he leaves and that way if Jimmy G does leave or ends up a bad starter then we have Brissett to fall back on?

Craig Smith

You are as positive about the Brissett pick as anyone. Now, I don't think a third-round pick is a huge deal one way or the other. Given Brady's extension through 2019 and Garoppolo's contract ending after 2017, there was a need to add another developmental passer to the mix. And Brady's uncertain status for September due to his Deflategate suspension made the need for another backup for the first month a real possibility. Brissett has impressive measurables and a strong arm. He's athletic. There is reason for intrigue. I have no problem with the pick. Certainly another position could have brought more impact in the first season, but it's not like he was a first-round selection. Third-round picks are far from sure things one way or the other.

Andy Hart

What do you guys think about Drew Brees as a comparison for Garoppolo? Not there skill wise yet. But I can see similarities.

John Damalos

This was a topic we discussed on our PFW in Progress radio show on last week. Russell Wilson was brought up as an upside comparison for Garoppolo's skills. This Brees comparison has been made in the past and I think is a good one. Both are undersized with decent athleticism but are not runners. Now, Garoppolo has a long way to go in his decision-making, timing and accuracy to become more Brees-like. But why can't he follow the second-round path that Brees has blazed? He just hasn't had a chance yet.

Andy Hart

If the Patriots were to sign Arian Foster, do you think it would spell the end for LeGarrette Blount in New England? Personally I'd like to see a tandem in which Foster and Blount have a 2:1 carry split, which could help keep Foster healthy and then let Blount do what he does best and break tackles on tired defenders. Another if (I know, lots of ifs), if DJ Foster comes on strong in camp and the Patriots do sign another running back such as Foster, what do you think the trade value for James White would be? I like him as a player but I think in that scenario he is the odd man out and would probably hold more value as a trade chip than as a backup.

Alex Marr

I don't really see Arian Foster and Blount working as a tandem or finding room together on the roster. Maybe Blount could hold the fort down if Arian Foster opened the year on PUP? Otherwise, I think Blount is either the big/lead back or is not on the team. D.J. Foster, to me, is a bit of a project due to his role as a running back and receiver in college. He's certainly undersized but very quick. I think there would be a pretty long transition, though, to him really being a running back and everything that goes with the job in the NFL. But, just to play along, I can't see White bringing back much more than a late-round pick in a trade, if that. He was impressive catching the ball over the second-half of last season, but what he did isn't exactly uncommon in the league. He's been a little slow to develop and probably wouldn't be too hot a trade commodity. That said, I hope he sticks around because I'd like to see him develop for at least one more year in Foxborough.

Andy Hart

Hi there, big Patriots fan from across the pond here in the UK. My question is the QB situation and Deflategate. At this point, do you think it would be beneficial for Brady to lose his appeal so we are forced into seeing what we have with Garoppolo? If he played well, we would be able to get good trade value out of him or be more confident about re-signing him to be the guy after Tom retired. I like our chances of going 9-3 once Brady is back, so worst case scenario for this season would probably be a Wild Card berth in the playoffs.

David Teasdale

I've said all along that the best case scenario in the event of a Brady suspension is Garoppolo playing well in four games and increasing his trade value. That might be a win for everyone involved. It's looking more likely that we may see if that can actually happen in September. Still, I would always prefer to have Brady on the field and winning games than any other alternative. There is no guarantee Garoppolo will lead New England to any wins in September. And regardless of the record in the first four games, it's not ideal for Brady to miss time and hit the field later in the season, something he hasn't done since his first year as a starter in 2001. While I do think the Patriots will make the playoffs whether Brady is suspended or not, I'd feel a lot better about the chances if he plays all 16 regular season games.

Andy Hart

I do not see the concern over the running game? Imagine this line up healthy O-line, Gronk, Bennett, Edelman with Develin and Lewis or Blount in the backfield. Would that not be an almost unstoppable lineup running or passing?

Greg Findlay

That's an impressive lineup for the passing game, but beyond that I'm not nearly as confident as you are. I'd still have major doubts of that group running ball, other than trick or scheme runs, against decent defenses. The offensive line needs to be better, but the running backs can do a much better job as well. I have no concerns with the passing game, save for the need for improved protection, but the running game is going to need to earn any respect it may get this fall.

Andy Hart

Who's more at fault for a poor running game in our poor Pats offense? The O-Line, the offensive attack strategy, or the running back? Since I began watching football in '06, I've noticed that the Patriots have never really had solid running seasons. I often see 1-,2-, 3-yard power runs, where the RB has to rely on sheer strength and agility to pick up yards, because there isn't a lane. I have to think that it's the O-Line's fault because we've had several running backs, and none of them had stellar seasons (except BenJarvus where he picked up 1,000 yards that season).

Heber Guerra

As is so often the case in these situations, it's probably a combination of all the factors. The line has had its ups and downs over the years and losing guys like Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal certainly doesn't help. The young guards need to improve this year. The running backs, in my opinion, haven't always maximized runs in recent years. Blount takes a while to get going and doesn't always hit the line fast enough, though he balances that out with some broken tackles and big runs at times. And the scheme has certainly focused on the pass for more than a decade. Running seems like an afterthought to the high-powered passing attack. It's hard to flip a switch in the running game late in the year if you haven't invested in it. Brady will always lead a pass-first offense, but an improved running game with better blocking, running and consistent play calling might help everyone involved.

Andy Hart

Hi. I know this might be a topic discussed already, but do you think the current 90-man roster will be the one they keep going into camp? I was wondering, with the packed receiving corps, that maybe either DeAndre Carter or Chris Harper would be released to make way for another running back, possibly Joique Bell or someone of that ilk? Your thoughts?



Derbyshire, England

I'd be stunned if the 90-man roster of today is the exact one that hits the field for the opening of training camp in late July. There will be small changes. As discussed earlier, a veteran running back could be added at some point, regardless of who that is. As for the receiver position, it does seemingly have a lot of depth, but only if Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are ready to practice. If not (and they weren't on the field last week for OTAs), those extra bodies will be needed for camp reps. I also thought Carter was one of the more impressive guys who stood out in the short time we got to see the team in OTA practices last week. I'd like to see more of him. And I haven't given up on Harper yet, either.

Andy Hart

Hey guys just want to get your thoughts on Sebastian Vollmer. A lot of people have been saying he had a down year last year, and I think it was apparent, especially in the AFC title game, that he did not perform his best. However I believe this can be attributed to him playing out of his comfort spot at left tackle, and to the fact that he was injured towards the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. How good in your eyes is a healthy Vollmer at right tackle? Is he the best player on the offensive line? Also where you would rank Vollmer amongst the other right tackles in the NFL? Personally I think he is a top five right tackle. Thanks!

Joseph Kellar

I do think Vollmer had a down year in 2015. It certainly had to do with health, playing out of position at times and playing with a variety of unknown guys around him. I do still believe that when healthy and at right tackle he's the best offensive lineman the Patriots have, even as he gets ready to turn 32 this summer. He's a big, powerful, athletic man who knows what he's doing. That's a hard combination to beat. Where he ranks in the league, though, is a tougher question for me. I'll be honest, I don't have an intimate knowledge of the NFL's right tackles. He's a former second-team All-Pro, so I do think that says something about how he compares.

Andy Hart

What do you think Jonathan Cooper's chance of making the team is? With the depth that the Pats have on the interior will the fact that the Pats traded Chandler Jones for him make his chances better?

Michael K.

Hi there. Big fan from the West Coast of Canada! My question is do you think Scar can get Jonathan Cooper to reach his potential? If that happens and we can avoid the big injury bug, SB No. 5 should be in reach with the improved receiving corps. Gronk and Bennett: WOW! And I think Mitchell is going to be better than expected too. Thanks and keep up the great work!

Mike Sexton

Nanaimo, BC, Canada

Cooper is an interesting guy. He was seen as a can't-miss guard when he entered the league as a top-10 pick by the Cardinals, with Dante Scarnecchia among those giving him very high grades in the pre-draft process. But he was injured and never fit in Arizona. He has a second chance in New England, but I'd say he's only slightly better than 50/50 to make the roster at a pretty young, deep guard position. Clearly if Scarnecchia gets Cooper to reach his potential it will be a huge positive for the Patriots. But if not, cutting injury-prone veteran can't be ruled out, even though his salary is guaranteed under the contract New England inherited from Arizona. I actually think it might be the best case scenario for the Patriots if Cooper gets beaten out for a roster spot, because that probably means guys like Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason are really developing nicely.

Andy Hart

What are the chances that the Patriots trade for a solid outside deep threat receiver like a Keenan Allen or maybe Vincent Jackson and a true speed back like Jamaal Charles?

Ozni Rhodes

The chances of two such deals are almost zero. I don't think a deal for a receiver is that likely given the free agent additions of Chris Hogan and Nate Washington as well as the drafting of Malcolm Mitchell. But I do very much leave the door open for a possible trade for a running back, though I think the target could be as much for power/size/lead back ability as for speed. The Patriots are seemingly solid in the area of passing back, but a bigger runner would be a nice addition to the current roster.

Andy Hart

Like many fans, I wish the Patriots had drafted a big back like Derrick Henry this year. I'm not bothered by this move though. I absolutely LOVE the thought of Joey Iosefa toting the rock behind TB12 and I think he has the potential to be that big back the Patriots need. I also feel that he needs time to learn the playbook and to work on his footwork moving through the line (although I get a kick out of him imposing his will on the defense!). He's young, big, strong, versatile, eager to succeed and coachable. I'm not sure what this next year will bring, but with a potential suspension looming and a serious need for support in the running game, I think he's the perfect fit. What are your thoughts? LET'S GO!!!

Jonathan Occi

I am not nearly as high on Iosefa as so many fans seem to be. I also didn't like the fact that the team cut him this offseason, if only to re-sign him. As Bill Belichick says, if you cut a player you have to be prepared to lose him. I don't think you prepare to lose a player you have high hopes for. I was not impressed with Iosefa's work in limited action last year, other than his obvious trucking of Titans defensive back Coty Sensabaugh. It was a highlight play on a day when the running back looked slow and unable to get things going on the ground. I'm sure he's a great kid and hard worker, otherwise he wouldn't have lasted on the practice squad. I just don't think he's the future of the running game or big running back position in New England. Actually, I'd be stunned if he made the team this fall. And I'd add that many of these same thoughts apply to another cult running back hero of Patriots fans, Tyler Gaffney. I just don't see with either guy what people have fallen in love with.

Andy Hart

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