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Patriots Playbook Wed Mar 29 | 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Ask PFW: Mixed bag of offseason tricks

Many of you have asked for it and now, in the deepest lull of the summer offseason, you get it. Humor, sarcasm and shots at the emailers have all returned to this week’s edition of Ask PFW.



]()Can you explain how long Mike Vrabel's contract is with the Pats? I'm not sure I understand the whole thing about the "dummy years". You don't think we'll lose such a versatile player, do you?*Toni Rogers*

While Vrabel has been a tremendous team player over his time in New England, including versatile on field play and a number of cap friendly contract renegotiations off it, he will have to do something with his contract to remain with the Patriots past this season. While he is under contract through 2007, his cap numbers for 2006 and 2007 jump to around $11.5 million thanks to salaries of $5 million and roster bonuses of $6 million for each of those seasons. That is not a number the team will carry for Vrabel, regardless of how versatile or productive he is. If the team wants to retain the linebacker, and he wants to stay, the sides will have to come to an agreement on a far more cap friendly contract prior to the first $6 million roster bonus due next spring. But it is a scenario that both sides have been well aware of all along, simply a part of life in the business of the NFL and its contract system.
Andy Hart

Do you think Mr. Kraft would send me a Super Bowl ring to try on? I'm sure I would be (PUTIN) it on.Dick Lafleur

I see what you did there. Good one. By the way while we are joking about names, did they call you the flower growing up? I know all about having your last named joked about. Let's just say that in elementary school the fact that Hart rhymed with a certain bodily function wasn't lost on a large number of my young classmates. Go flower boy!
Andy Hart

I am a tremendous Patriots fan, and have been for years. You guys do an excellent job; I read you religiously! My question for you has different levels, as is the case with most of them. What do you think about Pete Carroll's success at USC, and do you think he had any of his current knowledge when he was with us? At the time it seemed like he was coaching by the seat of his pants (as evidenced by that Scott Zolak hail mary pass at half time a few years back). Do you think Pete Carroll is as good as USC has made him seem? Or do you think the pass-happy, don't worry about defense attitude of the PAC-10 has given him a little more credit than he deserves. (Honestly, I liked the guy a lot, but he did little more than the dial-a-down guys out there...)Luc Tessier

Luc, I am your father. Sorry, just couldn't resist. Anyway, I think Carroll is perfectly suited for the college game and the lifestyle attitudes of Southern California. It's not like he suddenly knows that much more about the game of football. He was a very good defensive coordinator in the NFL and that's how he landed two head coaching jobs in the league. Clearly he's been far more successful at the helm of USC and I believe should stay at the school until his career ends. He deserves all the credit he can get as a college coach and even as a defensive football mind. Despite the tough way things unfolded here in New England, Carroll isn't the total laughing stock that some Patriots fans and media members like to make him out to be. Like Bill Belichick in New England, Carroll is in the midst of a reigning football dynasty.
Andy Hart



]()First and foremost, great job on your weekly updates on our world champion Pats!! My question is "do you feel with all the accomplishments and leadership that Rodney Harrison has brought to the NFL that he may be inducted into the Hall of Fame??" I think that the acquisition of Rodney Harrison has added a well needed toughness that has been nothing short of infectious to his teammates. My second question is "what are your thoughts of how Big Ben Watson is progressing??" Do you feel that he is finally ready for prime time NFL??" Does he have Ben Coates potential?? Thanks!*
*Mike Montrond
Delray Beach, Fla.

I agree that Harrison's attitude and style have been a bit infectious in New England. His style, both on and off the field, has helped the team reach the ultimate success it's achieved over the last two seasons. As for the Hall of Fame, right now I would call him a long shot. But with a few more years of great play in New England along with the possibility of more winning, his chances could improve greatly. The more a team wins in a certain era the more players that team will likely get in Canton. We have all seen that with the Steelers of the 70s. Either way, Harrison is a great player, a great leader and, as a reporter, one of my personal favorites in the New England locker room.
Moving on to Watson, right now he is the perfect example of unproven potential. As ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote in regards to the NBA draft, this guy has "tremendous upside potential." But similar things were said about Daniel Graham a few years ago and I'm not sure he will ever reach that level. I am intrigued with what I think Watson could do on the football field, but he must first prove he's completely healed from the knee injury that cost him all but one game of his rookie season. Bottom line, Watson is worth watching this summer and fall and has all the tools to be a tremendous weapon from the tight end position.
Andy Hart

Dear PFW-This is what I would have you pass on to R. Seymour – Dear Mr. Seymour, You have been truly blessed with your athletic ability. You make it look easy when you are totally disruptive to the opposing offense. I've heard through this site that you may be thinking of a long term sit-out. From a fans perspective, that would take away from the whole "experience". I make sacrifices to be able to take in the one, maybe two if I am so blessed games to watch you all perform your stuff. It is truly a wonderful experience. If you feel underpaid, realize this, to enjoy one game costs me 2 days salary. Is your situation really that bad???? Thanks for your time.
Gavel, Maine

Since we all know that all the Patriots players and coaches read Ask PFW every week, consider your note passed on. But as I have said a number of times in the past, attempting to put sports contract disputes in real world terms is an impossible task. Professional sports and the money involved are a fantasy world to the rest of us. The rules are different. The payoffs are different. It's a brave new world that most of us will never really be able to comprehend.
Andy Hart

Gents. There is so much said about the depth of Pats roster. But I wish to question the depth at two positions which you on the radio last year debated as the most contributing - QB and RB. What would happen if in the AFC title game or SB, Brady or Dillon go down? I am very surprised that the team does not have 1st rate back-ups in these positions and seems to rely on luck. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks.

Welcome to the world of the NFL salary cap. Teams just can't have high level, veteran backups at every position. That's why it is so important for teams to be able to develop young players to fill those roles as New England has tried to do with guys like Cedric Cobbs and Rohan Davey in recent years at the two positions you highlighted. While Davey has done little to impress fans and media types in limited action, of course other than his dominating stint in NFL Europe, he's done enough to impress the coaches and be listed as the team's backup for most of the last two seasons. With that in mind the team has tried to add veterans at different times including Chris Redman, Jim Miller and most recently Doug Flutie. Cobbs is still young enough and has the physical tools to be considered the potential back of the future, although he has a lot to prove this summer.
To make an already long answer short, if Brady or Dillon goes down the Patriots probably would be in a lot of trouble. But that's the case with a lot teams in the league at a lot of positions because the modern economics of the game make it very difficult to build and maintain a truly deep roster at every position. Actually I would have to say, and the success the team has had dealing with injuries in recent years probably backs this up, that the Patriots have one of the deepest rosters in the game and have done a good job in trying to do the impossible of building depth at every position.
Andy Hart

Where is the link to submit a question to PFW???

Keep in mind that this is an actual question sent to Ask PFW from the link on Must I say any more? I did spare Jay some embarrassment by leaving his last name off. Normally I would have let this slide, but in this no-holds-barred version of Ask PFW I just had to post it. Sorry, Jay. It's all in good fun.
Andy Hart

Hi guys, I just wanted to call out the two meatheads in last week's column who said that Mo Lewis deserved a Super Bowl ring for essentially allowing Brady the reigns of the Patriots offense after popping Bledsoe in Week 2 of the 2001 season. The comments were completely out of line, as Bledsoe sustained internal injuries as a result of the hit. To send "gratitude" to someone for making a potentially life-threatening hit on a Patriots quarterback is disgusting. I was ashamed to call myself a Patriots fan after reading their comments. Thank you for responding accordingly, to their "classy submissions." On a side note, I have a question: why does David Terrell wear Tom Brady's #12 shorts in mini-camp (see photos) while Brady wears Terrell's #10 shorts? Is it a Michigan thing or something? Thanks guys, keep up the good work!Brian O'Connell

Brian, well said. While things worked out for the Patriots in the end, making light of a serious medical situation isn't cool. Now on to more important things -- the great short controversy of 2005. As far as I know the trading of shorts between Brady and Terrell early in mini camp was just a random thing. They both had their own shorts on later in camp. Obviously they go back a long ways to their days together at Michigan and remain good friends. And while this may be the first time such laundry exchanges have been captured in photos, it is actually quite a common practice in the New England locker room. For example I have personally witnessed Rodney Harrison dress for practice by randomly walking around the locker room and taking a different piece of clothing from a wide variety of lockers. I think it's just one of those things, but I will keep an eye on it and report back to you if I notice more occurrences during training camp or the regular season.
Andy Hart

Paul Perillo's response to a reader asking what would have happened if Mo Lewis didn't take out Bledsoe in 2001 was "You never know, guys, we may be talking about a Patriots dynasty with four straight Super Bowl titles right now. But thanks for the classy submissions." Is he serious? If he is serious, he should be fired for being so clueless and some how suggesting Bledsoe would have led the Pats to 4 straight SBs. What an insult to Brady.Peter Wright

The first thing that hit me reading this email was the irony in Peter's last name. An insult to Brady? How about making fun of a serious injury and joking about it. Drew Bledsoe is a very important figure in Patriots history and played a key role in laying the foundation for the organization's recent success, both on and off the field. And maybe it's just me, but I don't think he was serious when he referred to the submissions as "classy." I'm guessing there was some sarcasm there. I know the whole Mo Lewis joke has been around for a while, I just think it is utterly disrespectful and in poor taste. And that says a lot coming from a guy who has been accused of lacking sensitivity on more than one occasion. Even I don't push the envelope as far as to joke about life and death situations. But that's the beauty of this mailbag, all opinions are welcome and considered, even those that might seem so Wrong, Peter.
Andy Hart



]()Why hasn't Steve Grogan qualified for the NFL Hall of fame?*Dan Le Beau*

In another tribute to the French language, thanks for writing Mr. Beautiful. While I have a great deal of respect for Grogan and believe he was one of the toughest players to ever play his position, I don't think he is a Hall of Famer. He made the most with what he had to work with and early in the career was one of the great running quarterbacks in the game, including an NFL quarterback record 12 rushing touchdowns in 1976 and a career-high 539 yards on 81 carries (6.7 avg.) in 1978. But while he remains a beloved figure in the memory of many Patriots fans, his career numbers don't really stack up to those of the game's greatest passers. He finished his 16 seasons in New England with 1,879 completions on 3,593 attempts (52.3 percent) with 182 touchdowns and 208 interceptions for a 69.6 career passer rating. Grogan did put up very impressive rushing numbers with 445 carries for 2,176 yards (4.9 avg.) and 35 touchdowns. So while we should all continue to remember Grogan quite fondly, his numbers just don't really add up to a spot in Canton.
Andy Hart

I would love to talk about Richard Seymour, but since he is on "Vacation" I have someone else in mind, Tim Dwight. Remember this guy from the San Diego Chargers? I recently found a statistic (right next to Bethel's numbers!) of Tim's kickoff return yardage. Tim had 1,222 yards 24.4 yard avg. in 50 kick-offs. Bethel had 1,016 yards 24.8 yard avg. in 41 kick-offs. Chad Morton is not even on the radar when it comes to kick-offs. So, here is the much anticipated question: Who do you believe will be the return man this year, and how is Seymour's vacation going?Sean Donnelly

I think this could be a very competitive battle and one that could hinge on Johnson's attitude and the strides he's made as a third-year player. If Johnson can become any more of an option in the passing game and stay out of Belichick's dog house, I think the job is his. But the veterans Morton and Dwight bring depth and insurance. Both are proven NFL kick returners, although Dwight has said he only wants to return punts and not kicks in New England. How strongly he feels about that, I am not sure, but he said it. Comparing the career numbers for the trio, Johnson (71 returns - 1,863 yards - 26.2 avg. - 2 TD), Morton (174 returns - 4,172 yards – 24.0 avg. – 3 TD) and Dwight (192 returns – 4,473 yards – 23.3 avg. – 2 TD), shows that all three are legitimate options. I just believe the youth, big play knack and upside fall in Johnson's favor and the job is his unless he really screws it up.
Andy Hart

Where is Darryl Stingley and how is he doing??
Andy Gibbs

I wasn't able to track down too much info on Stingley other than the fact that he lives in the Chicago area. Sorry I can't offer much more than that. Maybe some of our readers will be able to add something in future editions of Ask PFW.
Andy Hart

Terrific articles over the past couple weeks regarding top ten plays. I have a couple more to throw out that will be fun to remember: David Patten "recovering" a fumble against Buffalo while unconscious. Jermaine Wiggins' performance of a lifetime in the snow bowl. Carolina's kickoff going out of bounds in the closing minutes of SB 38. Willie's tackle of Edgerrin James on 4th down. 80 yard bomb from Brady to Brown in OT at Miami. Picking off Pennington 5 times. Shutting out Parcell's Cowboys. The victory celebration in Kenmore Square following SB 38. David Givens' TD in the closing seconds against Denver. Dan Graham's TD catch in the closing seconds in Houston. And, one of my faves, the moment when Bledsoe came off the bench against Spittburgh. Adrenaline rush!!!Andy Gibbs

Slow week here in the lull of the offseason, so Mr. Gibbs gets the rare back-to-back email postings. Don't get used to it though, in the busy weeks it's back to one posting per person/household/address. And in true legal jargon fashion, "No Purchase Necessary." Although I am sure it would be greatly appreciated by Mr. Kraft, so feel free to head over to the Pro Shop section on
As for your top 10 plays submissions, while I think some of them fall more under luck than anything else, they certainly are memorable. And I know Paul Perillo would certainly agree with you on the Bledsoe appearance in the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh.
Andy Hart



]()How do u c the Seymour situation unfolding? If he sits out til the middle of the season I don't think the Pats will activate him and pay him cuz that would send a negative msg to the rest of the team.*Moses Ip*

I c 93 @ TC on 7/29. Y? Just a hunch. Word.
Andy Hart

Hey Guys, This is kind of a general question, not specifically related to the Pats, but I had a question concerning player interviews. I was just wondering, do players get paid for the interviews they conduct with your various sports media outlets? Sometimes, when I see a player getting grilled by some journalist (usually after he just said or did something stupid on or off the field), I wonder why the heck the player agreed to do the interview in the first place if he wasn't getting paid. Otherwise, why else some players would concede to various interviews, particularly after some embarrassing or unpleasant situation? Publicity? Vanity? Is it in their contract or something?? Not a particularly pressing issue, but it IS the off-season....
Steve Schneider

Are you trying to get players to talk to the media here in New England less than they already do? Players talk to the media because the media is there to cover the players through both he good and the bad. In the long run the media gets information to the fans about players and teams and the fans pay the salaries that allow players to earn the big bucks as professional athletes. As much as many of them hate to admit it, the players have nothing without the fans and their spending dollars. True stand-up athletes answer questions in good times and bad. I think both fans and media types appreciate that in the long run. And some TV and radio stations do pay for access to players, setting up weekly interviews, but that is not something that generally takes place in the written press and certainly not here at PFW.
Andy Hart

Is it possible that Marc Edwards is going to come back to the Patriots? He is a solid run blocker and we could use somebody as a change of pace for Patrick Pass.
Nathan Graf

I have learned to never say never in this business, but I don't think there is much of a chance of Edwards returning. New England doesn't really use a true fullback all that often. Pass' role on the 53-man roster comes through the wide variety of things he can do on offense and special teams. I don't think Edwards would be able to fill all those slots. He's a decent player in the right offense, but I don't think that is here or now.
P.S. -- Are you related to the former star women's tennis player? That would be cool.
Andy Hart

What's the latest news on Ty Law? Last I heard he was in negotiation with Detroit, Pittsburgh and/or Jacksonville. Are any of these rumors true that you know of, and is their any possible way of him returning to New England? I know it's a long shot, and probably a stupid question, but during the season he did mention that he wanted to retire as a Patriot.
Richard Cocotte

Dick, do you mind if I call you that? I hope not. Let's remember that "There is no such thing as a stupid question, just…" I'm sure you can fill in the rest. And before you email me back in anger, I am just kidding. In terms of the Law situation, as I have said in the past I would be very surprised to see him back in a Patriots uniform. I think both parties have moved on, for better or worse. I personally like Ty and I am rooting for him to bounce back from the injury somewhere and help some team improve on defense. I just don't think it will be in New England.
Andy Hart

I think everyone is missing some pertinent information on the Seymour situation. Nick Cafardo in the Globe recently commented that his sources state that Seymour will continue his holdout and made reference to the fact that Brady got a new deal two years from Free Agency. This is NO correlation between the Brady and Seymour situations. Brady had a cap number the Pats wanted reduced in 2005 - Seymour does not. I believe Richard is a smart man and the mini-camp holdout was his way to make a point without creating too many waves. There is no reason for him to hold-out when training camp starts because he has absolutely no leverage. In fact, the Pats can't give him a commensurate deal this year because of their cap situation and Seymour knows it. The day of reckoning will come after this season when the pats will have an exclusive window to give him a long-term extension and he can either take it or play out his final year into free agency. Seymour will not hold out this year!
Steve McCumber

I tend to agree with you that Seymour will not hold out. He has no leverage and really can't win. His only outlet is to play out the deal and get his big payday on the open market in two years. It's risky. He must stay healthy and continue to play at a high level. But there isn't much else he can do. That's just the way the system works. Seymour sent his message and as you said there isn't much more he can do. We will have to wait until training camp though to see for sure that he shows up. That should make for an interesting first full day of camp on July 29. Tell your cousin Cu I said Hi.
Andy Hart

I loved your article about the potential three-peat disruptions facing the Patriots this year, but what about other teams on the rise being a factor? In my mind the biggest obstacle for the Patriots is not overcoming luck, injuries, or history, but successfully fending off the young, explosive offenses of the Chargers and Colts (again) or the smash mouth Steelers team. As much as I like to believe otherwise, eventually one of these teams should be able to break through, especially if they can manage home field advantage over the Patriots.
Jack Pierce

That's a challenge all teams face. I just think Paul Perillo's article was more about how other teams have failed in three-peat attempts than anything else. New England starts 2005 as the unquestioned king of the football world. If another team comes along and just takes that title, that is one thing. But if Tom Brady gets hurt or some other specific thing causes the team to fall short of a third title in three years, that would be different. If New England fails to win it all this season the question will be whether they simply got knocked off by a better team (as you suggest could happen) or were they unable to put their best team on the field to fend off the challengers. We'll have to see how it plays out this fall and winter, but my money says they have a very legitimate shot at making NFL history.
Andy Hart

Do you know of a website that has the all-time Pats stats? Would this site also have the all-time Pats playoff stats? Thanks.Bob Carpenter

Ask and you shall receive. We here at are currently working on putting together a comprehensive stats section on the site that would include team stats, player stats, all-time stats, playoff stats, team records and just about every other number any fan would want to know. While there is no set date on when this section of will be up and running, have faith that it is coming. Check the site regularly and I think all your stats questions will soon be answered right here on But we don't have to tell you about working on things and building things, I mean with you being a Carpenter and all.
Andy Hart

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