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Patriots Replay Wed Nov 25 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW Part I: Peppered with questions

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Hey PFW. The reports of Julius Peppers being traded to NE are exciting to say the least; however what I'm worried about is the crop of free agents to-be. Both Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork are out of contract after 2010, and it will surely take a huge chunk of money to re-sign them. Peppers will require top dollar too to sign; is it worth letting go of either Seymour or Wilfork (I'd like to see Wilfork stay, whatever the cost is) while still signing Peppers?
Hamed Almajed
Bahrain

I'm as excited as everyone about the Peppers' news, but two things are bugging me. One - it seems very un-BB-like to have this thing leak out with the reported timetable of one month before all is done. If I remember right, Moss, Dillon and Thomas all came out of left field, and no one knew about the deals until Bill wanted us to. Also - if Peppers is on board, what happens to the contracts for Wilfork, Mankins et al who are coming due? Something seems fishy....Grant Bronk

I just read on NFL.com Vic Carucci thinks Bill and the Patriots have worked out a deal for Julius Peppers for the second round pick received from Kansas City and should be complete later this month. If true with the current roster I feel the Patriots will be set for now and the future considering they will still have much maneuverability with one first and two second-round choices in the up coming draft to get a couple more impact players. My question is Peppers is also known as a problem player when not getting his way. How do you feel he will fit in with the Patriots way?
Mike Wray

**

ap090119038876.jpg

Please do not rip me apart for questioning the possible trade for J. Peppers but, would this be the best option for the pick/picks we would have to give up? Peppers would be transitioning from DE to DE/OLB, do we know that he can play the OLB position effectively? Can he cover in passing situations? Obviously we are going to have to sign him to a big contract, so is it worth it to sign him to big money assuming he can play this position with success? Would the Pats be better off using the pick to move up and grab ILB Rey Maualuga or using it to get maybe OLB L. English? We possibly have a chance to get a long-term, high-quality CB (V. Davis) and OLB (L. English) in the same draft. Is Peppers worth the money and pick/picks? Thanks for listening. *Terrill M.*

These are just a sampling of the emails we were bombarded with as the Peppers' story broke Monday afternoon on NFL.com. I think they also, as a group, sort of summarize my thoughts on the possibility of obtaining Peppers from the Panthers. On the surface the idea of getting a top-flight, ridiculously talented edge rusher is more than appealing. It would fill what is now the team's greatest need at this point in the offseason. Peppers had 14.5 sacks last fall and has reached double-digits in five of his seven seasons. He's an impact defensive player with freakish athleticism and size. That's the good.

But he's also never played anything other than end in a 4-3 front. He may want to play in the 3-4. He may be athletic enough to do the job. But until he's shown he can play linebacker, it's still a bit of an unknown. That's a risk to take on a guy when you are trading to get him and also signing him to a big-money contract. According to NFL Network's Adam Schefter that contract would be something north of $70 million with $30 to $40 million guaranteed. That's a deal unlike pretty much anything the Patriots have ever given out. It would have long-term cap ramifications, and would affect the way other players negotiate with the team. Guys like Wilfork, Seymour and Mankins would be looking for more money. Combine the actual money paid to Peppers with the way it would change perceptions about the kinds of contracts the team hands out and it would make doing business with those other players moving forward much more difficult. That's bad. It would likely spell the end for, at the very least, Seymour in New England.

There are also the questions of how mature and motivated a player Peppers is. He's considered a guy who flashes elite ability but can also go into the tank, as he reportedly did when he was unhappy with the Panthers in 2007 and recorded just 2.5 sacks in 14 starts. He says he wants to be in the 3-4, he'd be coming to a winner and has been productive more often than not in his career so I wouldn't really worry about his attitude in New England. But it is at least something to consider given the hefty price tag you'd be paying for his services.

Put it all together and the reported deal for Peppers isn't quite the all-roses transaction we might first think it is. Before we go too far, Schefter also doesn't think it will happen. In fact in a radio appearance on WEEI in Boston Tuesday morning he said he's 99.9-percent sure Peppers "will not be a Patriot." So maybe we're just wasting our time both lusting after and worrying about the deal. Sure Peppers would give New England the elite edge rusher it has lacked since Hall of Famer Andre Tippett retired, but would the overall price of the acquisition be worth it? It's an interesting debate, especially when you do consider the top-end talent and overall depth that's supposedly available in this April's draft at both outside linebacker/edge rusher and cornerback.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, I was living in St Louis when the Rams moved there. I started routing for them as my second team (When they were not playing the Pats). I loved being the only Pats fan in the bar when the Pats beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. Luckily, I was friends with the owner and most of the regulars. But I digress. The reason for the email is what do you think are the odds that the Pats could sign Torry Holt? I have watched him since he started in '99. I think that he is one of the top receivers in the league and would make a fun year watching him line up opposite Moss with Welker in the slot. I feel that his numbers last year were an anomaly, more to do with how bad the team was as a whole than any decline in his playmaking ability. Thanks.Pat Connolly
Dayton, Ohio

What do you guys think about acquiring a veteran wide-out like Marvin Harrison or Torry Holt to complete the receiving core in New England?
Tim Johnson

Holt and Harrison are clearly two of the more productive receivers in NFL history and certainly draw our attention based on name recognition alone when considering available free agents. I don't think either has much of a chance of landing in New England, but for very different reasons. I think Holt still has some productive years left and I think plenty of NFL teams will realize that. Before last year he'd had at least 80 catches and 1,100 yards in eight straight seasons. Not too shabby. He's going to get some decent money on the open market, more than he'd be slotted for in a secondary role in New England. Sounds like he could very well end up as the top target in Tennessee if the rumor mill is accurate at this point. Plus, he wears No. 81 and that uniform is already in use with the Patriots. I'd love to see him added to an already talented passing game, but I don't think it's going to happen.

At the other end of the spectrum, in my mind Harrison is done. His knees seem shot, he's still involved in that shooting scandal and, personally, I've never liked his attitude. Seems like a pretty questionable character. He's soft on the field and might be tough to deal with off of it. Doesn't sound like a Patriots kind of player to me. He might land a job somewhere, but I don't think it will be in New England. And I wouldn't want it to be.
Andy Hart

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Hey Ask PFW. I have a few questions. First, if Andy Hart is answering especially, why do you think Ellis Hobbs won't be starting next year? I read the debate question but I don't know how you could say the things you did of Hobbs. Hobbs is going to start despite the newcomers. Springs will be the nickel back and Bodden will have to compete for that other side with Wheatley and Wilhite. *Chris C.*

What will happen to Ellis Hobbs now that we have signed Bolden and Springs? And who is the better of the two?Byron Ouellette

Hey guys great work! Your articles get me through my boring Tuesday classes every week! My question is in regards to the corners we currently have on our roster. First I just wanted to point out, as you guys probably know, that Bodden had more tackles but fewer interceptions than Hobbs last season. I for one think Hobbs is the most unappreciated player on the Patriots (many probably disagree) but do you think that such stats show Bodden is the better player? Also what do you think the chances are of Springs, Bodden and Hobbs all being on the 53-man roster during the first game of next season? Who would be the odd man out? I hope all these signings work out but nonetheless I still believe we should draft a corner in the early rounds again! Thanks for the help and sorry for the multi-question question!!!Nicola Haque

Thanks to Nicola our new slogan is – "Ask PFW: Less boring than school." As for Chris C., you asked for me and you got me, baby! I beat the pulp out of Erik on Debate Friday, now it's your turn. I can't believe you are simply handing Hobbs a staring job and penciling him in as a starter. What has he done to deserve that, other than prove his impressive toughness and durability. The pass defense has been suspect to downright bad over the last two seasons and he's at least somewhat responsible for that. No? He's never established himself as a consistent playmaker, either as the No. 2 guy or as the perceived No. 1 corner last year. That's why I think he could be in the fight for his playing life in what should be a very interesting and competitive battle at the cornerback spot during training camp. Wheatley and to a greater degree Wilhite should benefit from a year of experience in the system. Springs and Bodden are both proven playmakers in the league, the latter in the prime of his career looking to hit free agency again next offseason. There could also very well be a first-day draft pick at cornerback added to the mix. If that doesn't make for a competition for both starting spots, I don't know what does. My guess is that Bodden's experience in the system playing for Romeo Crennel in Cleveland will give him a chance at landing a starting job on opening day. I think Springs may be best suited for a hybrid safety/corner role (Philadelphia reportedly wanted Springs to play safety), although I won't rule him out as a possible starter at corner. I'm also intrigued by the two youngsters, not to mention some of the available talent in the draft. Could Hobbs still be a starter in 2009? Sure. But if I had to bet my life on it, I'd slot him in as a nickel back. Just one man's opinion.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW. Love reading the excellent input from you guys every week. Here's my question. With the departure of former starting fullback Heath Evans to the New Orleans Saints, do you see Russ Hochstein as the starter next year? If not, any idea who?Taylor Allen

So who do you think is going to be our fullback or are we gonna keep Russ blocking for our running backs?Joey Villabroza

The fullback has become less valuable over the years in the New England scheme. The depth at running back, wide receiver and at times tight end has played a role in that. My guess is that moving forward, as it has been for a couple years, the role will be filled by the tight ends (motioning into blocking roles), short-yardage options (a bigger bodied lineman like Hochstein) and maybe a versatile player brought in through free agency or later in the draft mainly to contribute on special teams with occasional roles on offense (an Evans-type player). The idea of the team having a primary fullback or a players whose primarily in the backfield blocking, just doesn't seem to exist anymore. "Starting fullback" just isn't a role on the Patriots offense right now.
Andy Hart

With the addition of Fred Taylor to the Pats, what will happen to BenJarvis Green-Ellis? For an unsigned rookie "Boston Legal" had a good October and November and was impressive to watch. If there is a possibility that Maroney will be shopped around, is there probability that Green-Ellis may split time with Faulk, Morris and Taylor, thus adding one more weapon to the Patriots back field? Or is there a slight possibility that Green-Ellis may replace Heath Evans though, to my knowledge, he has never played in the fullback position? Regardless what happens will there be an effort to keep "Boston Legal" in New England? Will New England keep Ray Ventrone who despite has been quiet, could be another weapon for the Patriots especially down the road? Thanks.John Kost

Somebody is a fan of the bottom portion of the roster. I like it. While I don't think there will be "an effort to keep" Green-Ellis that doesn't mean his time in New England is over. I see Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk as having pretty solid roles on the roster and in the offense. Laurence Maroney is a real wild card at this point due to his health problems and inconsistencies. I don't think he'll be shopped, but his role moving forward certainly is unknown at this point. Green-Ellis did a solid job filling in due to injuries as a practice squad call-up. Personally I didn't see anything remarkable, just a tough guy who took the yards that were on the chances he had. His role moving forward will be what he makes of it in training camp and preseason action. Ventrone, on the other hand, seems to have carved out a role for himself on the New England special teams units. That should only be solidified by the offseason departures of Larry Izzo and Kelley Washington, two other special teams aces. Ventrone is the underdog everyone likes to root for and it doesn't look like he's going anywhere any time soon. I don't think he'll ever be much of an option on either offense or defense (he's worked at both safety and wide receiver) but he's sure shown the ability to make plays on special teams. Keep rooting for Bubba!
Andy Hart

Would drafting Aaron Maybin DE/OLB from Penn State be the ideal on the field replacement for Mike Vrabel?
Jamall Griffin

Maybin is not really an ideal replacement for Vrabel, thanks to questionable size. He's 249 right now, and that's after working to add weight. He ran a disappointing 40-time, 4.78, at the Combine while carrying the added weight. At 6-4, he'd probably look to add another 10-15 pounds moving forward. He's young, entering the draft after his red shirt sophomore season at Penn State. He's very talented but still has some growing to do. Could he be an impact outside linebacker in the 3-4? There is a good chance he could be. But I don't think he's a guy who could come in and contribute immediately as a rookie.
Andy Hart

peppersap080823057916.jpg


Hey PFW. The reports of Julius Peppers being traded to NE are exciting to say the least; however what I'm worried about is the crop of free agents to-be. Both Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork are out of contract after 2010, and it will surely take a huge chunk of money to re-sign them. Peppers will require top dollar too to sign; is it worth letting go of either Seymour or Wilfork (I'd like to see Wilfork stay, whatever the cost is) while still signing Peppers?
Hamed Almajed
Bahrain

I'm as excited as everyone about the Peppers' news, but two things are bugging me. One - it seems very un-BB-like to have this thing leak out with the reported timetable of one month before all is done. If I remember right, Moss, Dillon and Thomas all came out of left field, and no one knew about the deals until Bill wanted us to. Also - if Peppers is on board, what happens to the contracts for Wilfork, Mankins et al who are coming due? Something seems fishy....Grant Bronk

I just read on NFL.com Vic Carucci thinks Bill and the Patriots have worked out a deal for Julius Peppers for the second round pick received from Kansas City and should be complete later this month. If true with the current roster I feel the Patriots will be set for now and the future considering they will still have much maneuverability with one first and two second-round choices in the up coming draft to get a couple more impact players. My question is Peppers is also known as a problem player when not getting his way. How do you feel he will fit in with the Patriots way?
Mike Wray

**

ap090119038876.jpg

Please do not rip me apart for questioning the possible trade for J. Peppers but, would this be the best option for the pick/picks we would have to give up? Peppers would be transitioning from DE to DE/OLB, do we know that he can play the OLB position effectively? Can he cover in passing situations? Obviously we are going to have to sign him to a big contract, so is it worth it to sign him to big money assuming he can play this position with success? Would the Pats be better off using the pick to move up and grab ILB Rey Maualuga or using it to get maybe OLB L. English? We possibly have a chance to get a long-term, high-quality CB (V. Davis) and OLB (L. English) in the same draft. Is Peppers worth the money and pick/picks? Thanks for listening. *Terrill M.*

These are just a sampling of the emails we were bombarded with as the Peppers' story broke Monday afternoon on NFL.com. I think they also, as a group, sort of summarize my thoughts on the possibility of obtaining Peppers from the Panthers. On the surface the idea of getting a top-flight, ridiculously talented edge rusher is more than appealing. It would fill what is now the team's greatest need at this point in the offseason. Peppers had 14.5 sacks last fall and has reached double-digits in five of his seven seasons. He's an impact defensive player with freakish athleticism and size. That's the good.

But he's also never played anything other than end in a 4-3 front. He may want to play in the 3-4. He may be athletic enough to do the job. But until he's shown he can play linebacker, it's still a bit of an unknown. That's a risk to take on a guy when you are trading to get him and also signing him to a big-money contract. According to NFL Network's Adam Schefter that contract would be something north of $70 million with $30 to $40 million guaranteed. That's a deal unlike pretty much anything the Patriots have ever given out. It would have long-term cap ramifications, and would affect the way other players negotiate with the team. Guys like Wilfork, Seymour and Mankins would be looking for more money. Combine the actual money paid to Peppers with the way it would change perceptions about the kinds of contracts the team hands out and it would make doing business with those other players moving forward much more difficult. That's bad. It would likely spell the end for, at the very least, Seymour in New England.

There are also the questions of how mature and motivated a player Peppers is. He's considered a guy who flashes elite ability but can also go into the tank, as he reportedly did when he was unhappy with the Panthers in 2007 and recorded just 2.5 sacks in 14 starts. He says he wants to be in the 3-4, he'd be coming to a winner and has been productive more often than not in his career so I wouldn't really worry about his attitude in New England. But it is at least something to consider given the hefty price tag you'd be paying for his services.

Put it all together and the reported deal for Peppers isn't quite the all-roses transaction we might first think it is. Before we go too far, Schefter also doesn't think it will happen. In fact in a radio appearance on WEEI in Boston Tuesday morning he said he's 99.9-percent sure Peppers "will not be a Patriot." So maybe we're just wasting our time both lusting after and worrying about the deal. Sure Peppers would give New England the elite edge rusher it has lacked since Hall of Famer Andre Tippett retired, but would the overall price of the acquisition be worth it? It's an interesting debate, especially when you do consider the top-end talent and overall depth that's supposedly available in this April's draft at both outside linebacker/edge rusher and cornerback.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, I was living in St Louis when the Rams moved there. I started routing for them as my second team (When they were not playing the Pats). I loved being the only Pats fan in the bar when the Pats beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. Luckily, I was friends with the owner and most of the regulars. But I digress. The reason for the email is what do you think are the odds that the Pats could sign Torry Holt? I have watched him since he started in '99. I think that he is one of the top receivers in the league and would make a fun year watching him line up opposite Moss with Welker in the slot. I feel that his numbers last year were an anomaly, more to do with how bad the team was as a whole than any decline in his playmaking ability. Thanks.Pat Connolly
Dayton, Ohio

What do you guys think about acquiring a veteran wide-out like Marvin Harrison or Torry Holt to complete the receiving core in New England?
Tim Johnson

Holt and Harrison are clearly two of the more productive receivers in NFL history and certainly draw our attention based on name recognition alone when considering available free agents. I don't think either has much of a chance of landing in New England, but for very different reasons. I think Holt still has some productive years left and I think plenty of NFL teams will realize that. Before last year he'd had at least 80 catches and 1,100 yards in eight straight seasons. Not too shabby. He's going to get some decent money on the open market, more than he'd be slotted for in a secondary role in New England. Sounds like he could very well end up as the top target in Tennessee if the rumor mill is accurate at this point. Plus, he wears No. 81 and that uniform is already in use with the Patriots. I'd love to see him added to an already talented passing game, but I don't think it's going to happen.

At the other end of the spectrum, in my mind Harrison is done. His knees seem shot, he's still involved in that shooting scandal and, personally, I've never liked his attitude. Seems like a pretty questionable character. He's soft on the field and might be tough to deal with off of it. Doesn't sound like a Patriots kind of player to me. He might land a job somewhere, but I don't think it will be in New England. And I wouldn't want it to be.
Andy Hart

**

hobbs_kdn1229.jpg

Hey Ask PFW. I have a few questions. First, if Andy Hart is answering especially, why do you think Ellis Hobbs won't be starting next year? I read the debate question but I don't know how you could say the things you did of Hobbs. Hobbs is going to start despite the newcomers. Springs will be the nickel back and Bodden will have to compete for that other side with Wheatley and Wilhite. *Chris C.*

What will happen to Ellis Hobbs now that we have signed Bolden and Springs? And who is the better of the two?Byron Ouellette

Hey guys great work! Your articles get me through my boring Tuesday classes every week! My question is in regards to the corners we currently have on our roster. First I just wanted to point out, as you guys probably know, that Bodden had more tackles but fewer interceptions than Hobbs last season. I for one think Hobbs is the most unappreciated player on the Patriots (many probably disagree) but do you think that such stats show Bodden is the better player? Also what do you think the chances are of Springs, Bodden and Hobbs all being on the 53-man roster during the first game of next season? Who would be the odd man out? I hope all these signings work out but nonetheless I still believe we should draft a corner in the early rounds again! Thanks for the help and sorry for the multi-question question!!!Nicola Haque

Thanks to Nicola our new slogan is – "Ask PFW: Less boring than school." As for Chris C., you asked for me and you got me, baby! I beat the pulp out of Erik on Debate Friday, now it's your turn. I can't believe you are simply handing Hobbs a staring job and penciling him in as a starter. What has he done to deserve that, other than prove his impressive toughness and durability. The pass defense has been suspect to downright bad over the last two seasons and he's at least somewhat responsible for that. No? He's never established himself as a consistent playmaker, either as the No. 2 guy or as the perceived No. 1 corner last year. That's why I think he could be in the fight for his playing life in what should be a very interesting and competitive battle at the cornerback spot during training camp. Wheatley and to a greater degree Wilhite should benefit from a year of experience in the system. Springs and Bodden are both proven playmakers in the league, the latter in the prime of his career looking to hit free agency again next offseason. There could also very well be a first-day draft pick at cornerback added to the mix. If that doesn't make for a competition for both starting spots, I don't know what does. My guess is that Bodden's experience in the system playing for Romeo Crennel in Cleveland will give him a chance at landing a starting job on opening day. I think Springs may be best suited for a hybrid safety/corner role (Philadelphia reportedly wanted Springs to play safety), although I won't rule him out as a possible starter at corner. I'm also intrigued by the two youngsters, not to mention some of the available talent in the draft. Could Hobbs still be a starter in 2009? Sure. But if I had to bet my life on it, I'd slot him in as a nickel back. Just one man's opinion.
Andy Hart

Hey PFW. Love reading the excellent input from you guys every week. Here's my question. With the departure of former starting fullback Heath Evans to the New Orleans Saints, do you see Russ Hochstein as the starter next year? If not, any idea who?Taylor Allen

So who do you think is going to be our fullback or are we gonna keep Russ blocking for our running backs?Joey Villabroza

The fullback has become less valuable over the years in the New England scheme. The depth at running back, wide receiver and at times tight end has played a role in that. My guess is that moving forward, as it has been for a couple years, the role will be filled by the tight ends (motioning into blocking roles), short-yardage options (a bigger bodied lineman like Hochstein) and maybe a versatile player brought in through free agency or later in the draft mainly to contribute on special teams with occasional roles on offense (an Evans-type player). The idea of the team having a primary fullback or a players whose primarily in the backfield blocking, just doesn't seem to exist anymore. "Starting fullback" just isn't a role on the Patriots offense right now.
Andy Hart

With the addition of Fred Taylor to the Pats, what will happen to BenJarvis Green-Ellis? For an unsigned rookie "Boston Legal" had a good October and November and was impressive to watch. If there is a possibility that Maroney will be shopped around, is there probability that Green-Ellis may split time with Faulk, Morris and Taylor, thus adding one more weapon to the Patriots back field? Or is there a slight possibility that Green-Ellis may replace Heath Evans though, to my knowledge, he has never played in the fullback position? Regardless what happens will there be an effort to keep "Boston Legal" in New England? Will New England keep Ray Ventrone who despite has been quiet, could be another weapon for the Patriots especially down the road? Thanks.John Kost

Somebody is a fan of the bottom portion of the roster. I like it. While I don't think there will be "an effort to keep" Green-Ellis that doesn't mean his time in New England is over. I see Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk as having pretty solid roles on the roster and in the offense. Laurence Maroney is a real wild card at this point due to his health problems and inconsistencies. I don't think he'll be shopped, but his role moving forward certainly is unknown at this point. Green-Ellis did a solid job filling in due to injuries as a practice squad call-up. Personally I didn't see anything remarkable, just a tough guy who took the yards that were on the chances he had. His role moving forward will be what he makes of it in training camp and preseason action. Ventrone, on the other hand, seems to have carved out a role for himself on the New England special teams units. That should only be solidified by the offseason departures of Larry Izzo and Kelley Washington, two other special teams aces. Ventrone is the underdog everyone likes to root for and it doesn't look like he's going anywhere any time soon. I don't think he'll ever be much of an option on either offense or defense (he's worked at both safety and wide receiver) but he's sure shown the ability to make plays on special teams. Keep rooting for Bubba!
Andy Hart

Would drafting Aaron Maybin DE/OLB from Penn State be the ideal on the field replacement for Mike Vrabel?
Jamall Griffin

Maybin is not really an ideal replacement for Vrabel, thanks to questionable size. He's 249 right now, and that's after working to add weight. He ran a disappointing 40-time, 4.78, at the Combine while carrying the added weight. At 6-4, he'd probably look to add another 10-15 pounds moving forward. He's young, entering the draft after his red shirt sophomore season at Penn State. He's very talented but still has some growing to do. Could he be an impact outside linebacker in the 3-4? There is a good chance he could be. But I don't think he's a guy who could come in and contribute immediately as a rookie.
Andy Hart

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