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Patriots Replay Fri May 29 | 12:00 AM - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW: Part II

The 2005 draftees are interchangeable players Guard/Tackle, ILB/OLB, S/CB and of course Special Teams. That's how BB and SP shop when they are cooking up 3 out 3 SBs. I know its only May, but is this team shaping up depth wise, to be better than last years team? From the #1 fan in Florida, just ask my friends!! Go Patriots!
George Porter

You would appear to be correct George. That's if the draft picks pan out of course. If Bruschi doesn't play, that's a big blow to the defense. He's not easily replaced. Beyond that, the team looks better on paper, in May, then last year's club that finished the season.

I would like to know what are the chances of Ryan Krug the Offensive lineman rookie from UConn of making the team, and if he does will he ever see any playing time?
Rick Urmston

Rick, I would think that he is a long shot at this point. But keep in mind that they haven't practiced in pads yet so I haven't even see the guy. The Patriots work hard to develop young linemen so if he shows some ability to learn and improve then he could be kept around on the practice squad as part of the team's o-line developmental program. That's not a bad route to go on a team with open-minded coaches who don't care about draft status.

Hey Guys, Do you think we will get rid of Rohan Davey, as I think he is overrated. To me, he is nothing more than a taller heavier Michael Bishop. And we know how he turned out. Secondly, now that we wisely carried over our picks from this year's draft into the next, since invariably there will be some attrition at the WR position, do you see us picking some taller WRs in next years draft, and if so who would be on our radar screen as possibilities? Go Pats, beat those stinkin NY Jets (Jokes!)
John Dowling

Overrated? Is he even rated? He's thrown 19 career passes so I don't know how he earned any rating. He's not really like Michael Bishop. Bishop, like Davey, has a strong arm, but his game revolved around his mobility. Davey is not a so-called mobile quarterback as much as he is a pocket passer. He can run a little bit if he has to, but that's not his game like it was for Bishop when he was here. I think Ro will be here this year. As far as drafting a receiver next year, that's a good possibility, but I don't yet know who the best receivers will be where the Patriots will pick. But size will not be the No. 1 priority. Productivity will be. Deion Branch isn't big. Granted if they can get a player like Branch that has David Terrell's size, then that would be great, but size isn't as important as some other factors.

Fellas, thanks for your replies! First, I hope that Law does not end up in NY, Indy, or Pitt. Now, about ILB. The likely loss of Bruschi this year is a big deal. Not only because he was an all-around player, but because he was a major contributor to 3-4 scheme, and to this so-called "confusing" defense. He was often shifting around disrupting concentration of opposing players. Monty Beisel, admitted that he has ways to go to learn Pats system. So what would happen to Pats D-style of play this year? Thanks again!
Adam Putnam

If, and I stress if, Bruschi doesn't play, I agree that it's a big loss. He's an emotional leader, smart, knows the system like the back of his hand, has unbelievable instincts and is a flat out playmaker. But the coaches would not ask his replacement to do exactly the same things they had Tedy do just as they didn't ask Randall Gay to do everything Ty Law would have done last year. But the 3-4 base system will remain intact at least at the start of camp. Bill has been known to play one base front all summer and then switch it in September.

Without getting into the positions or players that the Pats will be looking at, could you just give the amount of picks and in what rounds the Pats select next year? After all the trades during the draft this year, I know I lost track of exactly what picks they have. Thanks.

They are scheduled to have one pick in the first, one in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. That doesn't include any compensatory picks they might receive because of unrestricted free agents lost.

I thought letting Traylor go was a mistake. He and Wilfork were always sitting together on the sidelines and he was a good mentor for him. He was an excellent nose tackle and helped the run defense immensely. He made a number of key plays throughout the year last year. If Wilfork or anyone gets hurt, we'll be in trouble. I just hope they didn't cut him to open a spot on the roster for Flutie. With the exception of about 2 games in San Diego, he has done nothing in the NFL that's worth remembering. I'd rather have an effective veteran nose tackle, than an ineffective veteran QB on the roster.Ed Doherty
Lighthouse Point, Fla.

I agree Ed that Traylor was a key player last year, but I think his age was a factor. The Patriots are deep on the defensive line and will have to find some playing time for Rodney Bailey and Marquise Hill. Traylor was terrific in acclimating Wilfork to the NFL, but Richard Seymour is a leader and he remains. Wilfork was out-performing Traylor down the stretch and it's time he gets all the starts. I don't think the move was in any way an indictment of Traylor's playing ability as much it was giving his snaps to a younger player.

Gentlemen, I enjoy your column every week here in Eagles Country. I have been drinking many free beers at my favorite Eagles watering holes since the SB victory. My question is this, are we a stronger team now than we were right after the draft last year? Also, do you think Tedy Bruschi might be back on a limited basis in the second half of the season?
Bradley Fuller

I would say that the Patriots appear deeper and stronger than they did at this time last year. But a lot changes between now and September and between September and January. But right now? Yes. Stronger. I think Bruschi will play, but that's based on nothing but my gut. The moves to sign veteran linebackers say otherwise, although Bill always says not to read into things that way when we do, we're usually wrong. So I'm trying not to do that. Maybe Bruschi starts the year on PUP and buys some more time to ready for the rigors of a season. No one knows at this point. I don't think Tedy knows.

I'm not trying to challenge Paul's opinion, but rather clarify my perspective. Didn't Bobby Grier draft Law, Milloy, Martin, Glenn (amazing rookie year), T. Johnson, Bruschi, T. Jones, Woody, Bledsoe and maybe some others I'm not recalling off the top of my pointy head? I know there are probably even more names who were a bust (as in every draft) but it seems like Grier got us some damn good players. Is he still in the league?
John Constantine

Grier was only part of the process during those drafts. He did not have final say. I think it's accepted that Bill Parcells was the most powerful influence in those draft rooms. Grier was in charge of the drafts between 1997 and 1999 so he did not essentially draft the players you mentioned even though he was a big part of the scouting process. His best picks between 1997 and 1999 were probably Greg Spires, Robert Edwards, Damien Woody and Kevin Faulk. The only Day 2 pick he found in those years was Sean Morey who is still kicking around as a special teamer.

I'm a huge Patriots fan and recently over the past few years have become a fan of Tedy Bruschi's. It was very disturbing to hear that Tedy suffered a stroke earlier this year and now his playing future is questionable. How is he and his family doing at this time and what is the team's position regarding him playing? Will the team or his doctors allow him to play? I know he loves football and enjoys playing, however he really needs to think about his family and consider retiring early. He does have a communications degree so he might want to consider sports news casting. This way he can stay in the game without getting hurt.
Hollie Champagne, A Huge Fan

Tedy's playing status is unknown at this time, but he appears to be doing well. If you spend time with him you and didn't know he suffered a stroke, you would never know it. He walks, talks and looks fine and is in good spirits. I'm quite sure he is going to listen to his doctors and make the best decision for his family.

I normally stay pretty upbeat during the offseason but can't shake the funk this year. With the uncertainty surrounding Bruschi and Troy Brown, not even the draft talk has cheered me up. In all the years I've been following this team, this is the first time I've been unable to come to terms with the possible departure of a specific player. Sure, I was sad to see some go over the years (Sam Gash comes to mind) but had to acknowledge it was best for the team. Not this time. Troy represents the heart and spirit of this team. He sacrificed sure bonus money to play defense. It seems that Patriots coaches and management expect loyalty but don't return it when it's so clearly warranted in this case. I wonder how soon their treatment of players will start to affect their ability to sign the value-priced free agents that have performed so well for us the past few years. Yes, there is a question in here: is the team still negotiating with Brown? If so, are they far apart? When is the drop-dead date for getting it done? Thanks for all the hard work you do to keep us on top of things.
Gail Michaels

OK Gail, Troy Brown is terrific. He has been a joy to watch and cover over the years, but he knew when he added a year to his contract in 2004 that he was not going to get it at $5 million. And this notion that he sacrificed bonus money is not entirely true. He had certain benchmarks in his contract that would have paid him incentive money for the amount of catches he made. That is true. But he didn't earn them in 2003 either and I don't remember him playing a lick of defense that year. I'm not trying to discredit Troy in any way. I have as much respect for him as any player I've ever seen come through that locker room in the eight years I've covered the team. I would vote him into the Patriots Hall of Fame tomorrow if I had a vote. So this is delicate ground I'm walking. But with Deion Branch and David Givens emerging and David Patten as the team's most consistent deep threat, Brown's offensive opportunities were lessening. Is it blasphemous to suggest that he might have been fourth on the depth chart at receiver despite his past heroics and ability to make clutch plays time and again? If the team planned to use him as it's No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, do you think it might have suggested someone else play corner last summer? Givens maybe? He even did it a little as a rookie in the preseason. So one could argue that while Troy's selfless attitude was exemplary, and always has been, that playing defense earned him more much more playing time than he otherwise might have received. I don't know if that's 100 percent accurate, but it's certainly a possibility. It also helped his New England legend grow. When people talk about the 2004 Super Bowl season, Brown's move to defense will not be forgotten any time soon nor should it be. I think the Patriots want Brown back, but it can't be at big money. I even think they would be willing to "overpay" for his leadership and attitude compared with what his on-field production might be. I put overpay in quotes because I guess that's a matter of opinion. I hope he comes back. He should be applauded for not balking at playing defense last year when I'm sure he felt it was cutting into his offensive opportunities. Whether Brown ever plays another down in New England or not, he is a great Patriot much the way Tedy Bruschi is.

I was really impressed with the interview of Ethan Kelley. What are the chances of him making an impact now that Traylor is gone? Also just wanted the Pats nation to know that Black Francis of the Pixies is a big Pats supporter, so please support them. Thanks.
Chris Gagne. Orlando Fla.

Ethan has an opportunity and that's all he can ask for. He has obviously shown that he is moving in the right direction or he wouldn't still be around. As a seventh round pick, there are no financial constraints forcing the team to keep him. He was a practice squad player as a rookie and made the 53 last year while playing in just one game. But the team has invested developmental time in him and this will be the summer for him to prove that it did the right thing. The D-line is very deep and the competition tough, but he is the only true nose tackle type on the roster behind Vince Wilfork. The opportunity will be there for him. Now it's up to him to take advantage.

Its all going to come down to the last throw, in the last game, with Flutie BOOTLEGGING in the winning 53 yard score in overtime. Coach Saban will throw his clipboard and rip off his turtleneck in anger and demand the Phins front office to institute a "sweatshirt only" policy! Seriously do you guys think Dwight will/has the ability to become a focal point ala Brown next year? And I read that Brown apparently has his choice of the Panthers or the Pats, would they still bring him back? You guys did a great job on the Draft coverage! Hobbs will be the defensive rookie of the year!
William Wilson

53 yards? That's a long run for a quarterback not named Vick. Don't you think the Phins will be looking for the bootleg? Sweatshirt policy in Miami? C'mon William. Just jokes. Good stuff. I can't imagine right now that Dwight will be a focal point especially since the Pats don't really have any focal point. Deion Branch is the closest thing to it, but Tom Brady spreads the ball around. This passing game is not built around one guy. I compare Dwight more to Patten than I do Brown as a receiver. He is a speed guy with an ability to stretch the field. Brown is more of a possession guy who uses his experience, savvy and route-running ability to get open and make plays. I hope Brown finishes his career in New England. Thanks for the kudos on the draft coverage.

I saw that the team picked up a LS named Travis Conway from Virginia Tech. What are his chances of making the team? Is it common for rookies to play at such an important though obscure position? Have you heard anything about this kid?
Pat Booth

I don't know much about him. His signing came as a result of a recommendation made by public relations assistant Kimberly Folkes, a Virginia Tech alum who knew the roster so well she raved about the Hokies long snapper. OK that didn't really happen. To answer your question, his chances have to be slim with Lonie Paxton being as reliable as any long snapper in the NFL. Lonie actually filled that role as a rookie and has been flawless since. But it's always good to let the incumbent know that competition exists and that he can't skate and keep his job. It also gives Conway a chance to show he can snap effectively and consistently so that teams, the Patriots included, get some tape on him in the case their guy goes down as Paxton did during the 2003 season. The Pats actually lost two long snappers to injury that year before Brian Kinchen came in and finished the season.

Hey Guys with the signing of Brady and Dillon to long-term deals that seem to be very cap friendly compared to Manning's contract and others, does this open the door to sign Seymour to a long-term deal and maybe Vinatieri and Givens? Who do you guys think will be next in line to sign a long-term deal? Thanks!
Mike Sidoli

I think the Patriots will negotiate with all of the players you mentioned. Obviously the next mega-deal will be Seymour and it will all depend on how much he seeks. I keep reading about his salary for this year and next and how he is underpaid, but the numbers fail to factor in his signing bonus, money that was paid before he ever played a down. Did he get paid what he was worth when he made $8 million as a rookie? The two defensive linemen drafted before Richard – Gerard Warren and Justin Smith – haven't been nearly as good as Richard, but are they underpaid? No. Richard got what he deserved when he signed. No more, no less. That's not to say Richard isn't worth more than he is currently making. If he were a free agent today, he would make a lot more. But he's not a free agent until after the 2006 season and I applaud him for doing the right thing, which is to say keeping his mouth shut and playing football knowing that his time will come whether now or later whether here or somewhere else. He's not making a jerk out of himself like some of these other players that hold out looking for a new contract. Good for him. Now that the quarterback is done, I would suspect that the team will look to lock up Seymour. But I imagine Brady has set the bar and Seymour will not get more than Tom did, at least not here. I think the Patriots will go hard after Richard, but within their boundaries that they, and they alone, set. I can see Richard being franchised to keep him around if no agreement has been reached. He is an exceptional player and it would be in the interest of both sides to do a deal sooner rather than later. But Richard cannot come looking for back pay in my opinion. The team cannot give him back pay but rather pay him based on how he projects over the next few years, which I imagine puts him near the top of the pay scale. Not over the top. Will Richard be willing to work with the team the way Brady did? The way Bruschi did? The way Willie McGinest has? That doesn't imply that he take some unfair deal. He deserves to get paid, but if he goes for broke, the team won't be able to deal with him. Let's hope that works out because he's a great player, a good leader and a good guy in the locker room. I'd love to see him play his whole career here. If he does, I can see him going down in history as the Patriots greatest defensive lineman ever. Perhaps his legacy in New England means something to him and will help provide him some financial avenues when his playing days end. Givens will also be tough because he made seventh round money coming out of the draft and I imagine he'll be trying to maximize his next contract. I think the Pats want him, but I could see him walking away. I don't see Vinatieri going anywhere. There isn't enough money to make everyone a highly paid player.

What's up fellas? Would like your opinion about the Chad Brown acquisition? I thought with the release of Phifer that BB & Co were wanting to go younger with their LB corps. So what is up with the Chad Brown signing? I understand that the veteran presence he brings (along with his Pro-Bowl status) will be a valuable asset to the team but do you think that this means no Bruschi? Given the fact that Brown is 34 and coming off a couple of injury riddled seasons with the Hawks', isn't this a risky signing or are you noticing a trend in players being able to perform/maintain their 'starter level' as they get along in their careers? Glad to see Tom finally inking his contract, hopefully Seymour is next and follows Tom's example.
Todd Bergeron

Phifer is 37 and saw his playing time dwindle last season. That, along with the $1.5 million in salary he was owed for this season, led to his release. He could even be brought back for the league minimum, but his production vs. price with age also working into the equation influenced the Pats decision. Brown is not appreciably younger, but is younger nevertheless and I think the Pats are preparing for life without Bruschi since his status remains unclear. The Patriots won't ask Chad Brown to play 60 defensive snaps a game. So they will try to preserve their linebackers by working them in a rotation as they have in recent years. Inevitably, someone will miss time, and the depth will be critical. Brown can play inside and outside in a 3-4. I wouldn't totally rule out Phifer's return, but as I said, it would have to come on the cheap with no guarantee that he even makes the team. I think the Pats are trying to get younger at LB, but it is such an important position in their defense that they don't want to throw young guys into the fire, but rather work them in gradually.

ESPN reported that the Pats are near the bottom of the Rookie Pool money with an allocation of only $2,962,900. As I understand the Rookie Pool, this is the CAP on rookie contracts and MUST be set aside as part of the player CAP. If the Pats elect NOT to sign rookies to meet this max, does the balance then become part of the team CAP that can be used to pay players other than those classified as rookies. And what is the NFL definition of a rookie? Does someone who played arena football or in the CFL for several years fall under the "Rookie" classification and the "Rookie Pool" under the CAP?
Otis Hill

The rookie pool is calculated based on the number, round and position of the club's draft choices. The pool is a subset of the overall cap, but in looking through the CBA, I didn't see anything that said that all of the rookie pool must be spent on the rookies or the team would lose the right to that money. I think it gives a maximum and it applies to drafted rookies. The only time an undrafted rookie counts toward the rookie pool is if the salary given to said player exceeds the minimum salary for that player.

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