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Ask PFW: Part Deux

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Do you think one of BB's assistants from Cleveland or someone else he worked with in the past could come in and fill the role of offensive coordinator? I know some of them are college head coaches like Kirk Ferentz, Al Groh and Pat Hill and are probably looking for a head coaching job rather than an offensive coordinator job, but there's also guys like Gary Tranquil, offensive coordinator from UNC, and Mike Shepard, quarterbacks coach for the Saints who could fill jobs like that. Also if you think BB would want someone who knows the offense, why haven't they already promoted someone from inside the organization? Lastly I read someone ask about maybe Tedy Bruschi becoming a coach. That gave me the idea about Flutie if he's just going to act like a coach who can back up Brady, why don't they make him a coach and slide everyone up to fill the offensive coordinator spot. If Brady does get hurt in a game they can stick Davey in and activate Flutie during the week. Also it leaves space for a younger player like Matt Cassel to step up.
Paul D'Amore

Paul, the Patriots will not name an offensive coordinator this year. They will handle the responsibilities as an offensive staff and Bill Belichick will at least start the season as the play caller. It's likely that Bill is grooming one of his younger assistants for the job, perhaps Josh McDaniels or Brian Daboll. If that is the plan then Bill likely didn't want to name a short-term coordinator. Mike Shepard, incidentally, is now the Saints offensive coordinator.

Can you tell me what players ever wore number nine. I have a personalized jersey and wanted to know who wore MY number?Jeff Schrage

Three Patriots. Kicker David Posey wore it in 1978, kicker Scott Sisson wore it in 1993 and punter Bryan Wagner wore it in both 1991 and 1995.

Couple of points on Richard Seymour. One, I disagree with everyone who says Seymour SHOULD re-sign at a discount. Obviously, every Patriot fan (me included) would like to see that happen, and I think Tom Brady made a good point when he signed his deal that he knows guys who have gone elsewhere for more money but ended up not being as happy on their new teams. But I think that decision has to be left to the individual player -- especially in football, where the salaries are lower than the other pro sports, the physical toll on the body is greater, and the earning years are significantly less. If Seymour or any other player leaves, I hope the fans will appreciate what he has done for the team instead of bashing him for doing what most of US would do -- make as much money as possible while the opportunity is there. Back to Tom Brady; he may have also had two years left on his contract (like Seymour), but the team did realize some cap savings this year with the new deal. Because Seymour's salary is so low, it's highly unlikely the Patriots would save cap money on any new deal they sign him to. They would probably only sign him to a deal that would save them money down the road, before he becomes a free agent and has the leverage to become one of the highest paid players in the game. Because of that, I don't think the situations between Brady and Seymour are very comparable. Something else -- someone mentioned franchising Seymour, and I don't believe that's an option any time soon, since he's under contract for the next couple of years. One last note: it wasn't that long ago that the Patriots were one of the worst franchises in professional sports. That 1990 team may have been the worst football team -- maybe SPORTS team -- ever. And as hard as it is to believe now, they used to set record attendance lows for their home games, and the possibility existed that the team would someday move to St. Louis (before the Rams) or Los Angeles. So I hope Pats fans don't start becoming too spoiled... it's been a great run, and no one hopes it continues more than me. But let's not lose sight of how far this team has come, and let's make sure we stay as loyal when things aren't quite as good as they are now.

Good email Max. You make some good points. I think when you look at re-doing a player's contract that has two years left, you have to understand that the team has the leverage so the player can't try to negotiate as he would if he was an unrestricted free agent where other teams could bid on his services. Any team would not be acting financially responsibly if it essentially bid against itself in that situation. Take Brady as an example. He is lauded for taking less money than he could have received on the open market, but he couldn't have received that money for two more years if he waited to become a UFA like Peyton Manning was – the Colts did franchise him though. But Brady was going to make about $13 million over the next two seasons under his old contract. Now he will make about $31 million over the next two years. So perhaps he took less money in the total package, but he would have had to wait two more years to get that big bonus. Now he has the money in the bank and, yeah, maybe he took less at the back end of the deal as a result of not having pending unrestricted free agency as leverage. Seymour is in the same boat so we'll see how that goes. And yes, the Patriots received cap relief in the short term on the Brady deal, something they are not likely to get in a new deal for Seymour since he is on his rookie contract. That makes a new contract for Big Sey less of a priority for the club.

The acquisitions of Duane Starks and Chad Scott seem to be solid. They're both, when healthy, very good corners, but is it realistic to keep those two, not to mention Samuel, Gay, Poteat, the rookie Hobbs, and Poole (who is last I knew high paid)? Seems like too many quality players for too few substantial roles. What are your thoughts? Thanks.
Jay Ethan

I don't think all of those players will be on the final roster. I think Poole is a lock contrary to what some others believe. I will also predict that Samuel, Gay, Starks and Hobbs will be on the roster. If they keep a sixth corner, it will likely be Scott over Poteat, but depth at safety and Eugene Wilson's position flexibility could influence how many corners remain. It will be interesting to see how things shake out. Antuan Edwards, Guss Scott, Dexter Reid, Rodney Harrison, James Sanders and Wilson will all battle for safety jobs.

With the economy in Japan going down the tubes, what do you think...I was wondering what you think the starters on D will be, mainly at LB and in the secondary. Also who will be the biggest names cut? I wanted to end by saying you guys are great and I look forward to the Q&A every week.Adam Mancini

It's almost irrelevant to refer to starters, particularly at linebacker where the team uses a rotation. But I'll say Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin start at OLB with Willie McGinest essentially a starter outside as well as part of that three-man rotation. Inside, it will be Ted Johnson and Chad Brown with Monty Beisel getting time in the rotation. I predict the "starting" secondary will be Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson at safety with Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks at corner. Asante Samuel will battle for one of those jobs. I'm not predicting cuts until I see some guys perform in pads at camp. BTW, what's Japan's GNP? Does it have a trade deficit?

I'd like to know what the status is of Chad Eckel? I love watching him run for Navy on the tube. This kid can flat out run, and drag opponents on his back, the same way John Riggins used to run. My question is this... Does he have a chance to make the Patriots roster (I hope he does), and if so, what kind of impact will he have? Every one knows that all military graduates have a five-year obligation, but rules can be bent to accommodate the situation (example, David Robinson, Napoleon McCallum).This move would be a great PR for the academies. You Guys Rock!!!!!
Ken Rinehart

Back in the old days, we would have ripped you for calling him Chad Eckel instead of KYLE Eckel. Andy jokingly suggested I call you Ken Wronghart (he is funny at times), but since people like me are sensitive, we have gone soft. So sir, perhaps you meant Kyle Eckel. (Isn't that better?) Unfortunately, I have to think he is a long shot to make the club. But a strong summer could earn him a practice squad job somewhere if he can't crack the 53 and then an NFL Europe gig next spring if the league remains. But don't forget that if you asked me about Randall Gay last year at this time, I would have written Randall who? So hold out hope.

Figured out the secret to Coach Belichick's success. He reads ask PFW every week, he must! Over the last few weeks many questions/comments have been about upgrading special teams and specifically kickoff returns. Someone this week suggested Bethel Johnson should do it. Then they go out and sign Chad Morton. He reads our comments and suggestions and your answers, does some analyzing and goes from there. Man this forum is awesome!David

You're right. Bill gets all his good stuff from us. We're the secret geniuses or geniu-i (sic) of the organization.

Thanks for in invaluable and excellent forum, guys. It's water in the parched desert of offseason. I have a question, a concern and a comment. Who initiated the renegotiation of Brady's contract? Was it Brady and his agent felt entitlement was due, or did the Pats organization realize they had a jewel in the lotus and want to keep it there? Belichick has said a major factor in his poor performance with the Browns was micro-managing and not delegating authority. I'm concerned he's moving to that default position in assuming the offensive coordinator role. It could be the system is running so smoothly and expertly that an electrode could be eliminated and still there is plenty of juice. The Pats have made a habit of innovative and successful changes, I realize, but given Belichick's history I wonder. What's your take on that? I watched a close up video of Corey Dillon running and was startled and impressed with the look in his eyes of power, alertness and determination. It was something to see. Three-pointed hats off to him. Glad he's on our team.
Peter Adair

Dillon's running ability is unquestioned. I don't know who initiated the Brady negotiations since with the exception of one report, they were kept quiet. The deal was three days old when it broke in the media. I think Belichick has come a long way since his Cleveland days. He's not going to revert to past mistakes. Just because he is assuming some of the offensive coordinator responsibilities doesn't mean he is failing to delegate or micro-managing any more than he has over the past five years. When studying Belichick's history, did you forget the last five years and three Super Bowls and skip right to Cleveland. The Patriots may not win their third straight Super Bowl and we will all try to figure out why, but I don't think it will be because he didn't name a coordinator. Dante Scarnecchia and Pete Mangurian are both experienced offensive coaches and Charlie Weis' duties will be spread throughout the staff, not just handled by Bill. The fact that the system is already established and the quarterback is in place will help ease the pain of losing Weis.

Ok, I hope you can clear this up for me. Someone told me that players will not sign autographs for adults -- that they only will sign for kids because adults might sell the autograph. Is there any truth to this?? Are my chances of getting my Deion "Hollywood" Branch jersey gone for good???? Please help!!!
Ryan Parker

That's not true as far as I know. I don't talk to the players about their autograph habits and I suppose there could be some players who implement that policy on their own, but I don't know of any defined practice like that. During training camp, I see players signing autographs for adults and kids alike.

I play football for Framingham State and I am a loyal Pats fan. I consider myself a student of the game in all aspects, the actual football part with offensive/defensive schemes and techniques, as well as the business side of it in the NFL with free agency, salary cap, and the drafts. But I must admit I know very little about the supplemental draft. Could you please explain how teams get picks, when it is, and who is eligible to be drafted.
Matt McCrae

Any team can use a draft pick in the supplemental draft but it would lose that pick in the upcoming spring draft. If a college player is draft eligible and didn't enter the regular draft, he could enter the supplemental draft. For example, a player who is three years removed form high school has no intention of entering the draft, but after completing his second semester of that particular school year, he is notified that he will be academically ineligible to play in the fall. So he submits his name to be in the supplemental draft, which typically takes place in August if I'm not mistaken. That draft is held just like the regular draft with the 2004 order of finish determining the draft order. Let's just say there are three players in the supplemental draft. Teams can decide which round, if any, they want to take the player. For example, in the 1999 supplemental draft, the Patriots waited until the fourth round and took defensive back J'Juan Cherry as their only pick. They then forfeited the equivalent fourth round pick in the 2000 spring draft.

Tony Simmons is now a contributing member of the B.C. Lions of the CFL.Tim Machan

Thanks for the tidbit.

I was wondering if you may have any insight on how Ellis Hobbs is doing and where you think he will be when the season arrives?
Michael Hobbs

I wish I did. Other than mini-camp, we haven't seen the players perform and that was such a small sampling that I don't think I could even begin to give you any sort of layman's evaluation. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the Pats updates. I read (and love) you guys like a crack habit. (but in a good way :) My question is in regards to the salary cap situation. Most of the free agents we have grabbed weren't even in my wildest dreams a possibility. Some of my enthusiasm may be a liberal sprinkling of Belichick knows what he is doing but coincidentally many of these guys I have liked from a semi-informed fan perspective. The one exception being Flukie. We have signed so many top notch guys that I was blown away when we got Chad Morton. He has been fantastic all over the league - even filling in for the starting RB job in N'awlins for a while. How can we possibly be under the cap limit? Please update me on this - how much room do we have left as of right now? Also I would like to weigh in on the Richard Seymour situation. He is grossly underpaid. Don't think for a minute that we could just plug in any old talent to make up for what he does. Please work out a long term deal to keep him here. I think he deserves to be one of our 'superstars'. To those that say 'suck it up and take one for the team' He has, and does. He is one of the top few in the league at what he does and makes a lot of other defensive schemes possible. He has played quietly for his rookie contract for more than a couple of years and played hurt in the Super Bowl with not so much as whimper unlike some players a dozen numbers his junior might do. Thanks again and keep up the good work !
Matt Snow

Well first off, none of the free agents the Patriots signed were big money guys and none received a big signing bonus. So the cap numbers of most of these guys are relatively small, which is why the Patriots, with only the top 51 salaries counting toward the cap number at this point, are under the cap. As far as Morton is concerned, he has 90 career rushing attempts, more than half of which came for the Redskins in 2003. He is a solid returner and gives the Patriots some special teams depth at the very least. As far as Seymour goes, I don't think anyone would debate that his salary level leaves him paid well below what the top defensive tackles make. The 2005 franchise number for that position (average of the top 5 salaries) is $5.1 million. Seymour is set to earn about $2.8 million this year, but when looking at his salary level, one should include a prorated portion of his $8 million in bonuses paid over the first two years of his deal, which means when looking at his salary compared with others, it should be at about $4.1 which doesn't put him that far behind the franchise number for 2005. Now if you want to eliminate the prorated portion of his bonus, then you have to ask yourself if Richard was overpaid as a rookie when he took in $6 million, which in 2001 was likely well more than the top DTs, even though he was an unproven pro, didn't make the Pro Bowl and wasn't named an All Pro. Then in year two, he made another $4.22 million. Was he overpaid in the first two years? I only point this out because people always, not just with Richard, forget about that big bonus they got early on and merely look at the salary. Richard's contract was as follows as published in the Boston Globe back in 2001: He received a $4.8 million signing bonus and a $1.2 million base salary in 2001. In 2002, he earned $820,000 in salary and another $3.2 million in a bonus payment. In 2003, he earned $980,000. It should be pointed out here that the base salaries in the first three seasons were guaranteed, giving him a total of $11 million in guaranteed money. In 2004, he earned $960,000. He is set to earn $1.12 million in base pay this year and $1.22 million in base pay next year. But the final two years of the deal also included up to $10.2 million in escalators based on playing time, Pro Bowls and playoffs. He earned $1.7 million of a possible $3.4 million for 2005 bringing his pay for this season up to $2.82 million. That payment was based on what he and the team accomplished between 2001 and 2004. He can earn up to $6.8 million in escalators in 2006 based on individual and team accomplishments in years 1-5.

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