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

Ask PFW Part II: Moving on

Thanks for making me the person that had the most questions in one message last week, I mean "points." I hope that doesn't ruin my chances for this week but this one needs to be answered!!!! Peter King this week mentioned that one of the new commissioner's first duties will be to decide if the Patriots have a draft choice taken away. What's this all about and how high of a pick could we lose? Say it ain't so.Alty

Step back from the ledge, Alty, King was writing in hypotheticals. He's simply wondering if Roger Goodell is too close to the owners or owes them something for putting him in place. You Patriots fans are a little paranoid these days. Alty, thou dost protest a bit too much. Do you know something that might be newsworthy? A breaking story, something we specialize in here at patriots.com? Do tell.
Andy Hart

Personally, I'm happy with the Branch trade. Getting a 1st round is great. The Pats are set to replenish the LB's, SEC, WR's. (or maybe another TE or two) My question is this: Do the Pats have any other extra picks? Will they get anything for losing Givens/McGinest? Have you heard if the LB's coming out in the 07 draft is deep or not? Or, are they all just a bunch of Oliver Hoytes? Sorry, couldn't resist. Also, who are the Pats upcoming free agents after this season? I know, I'm looking a little far ahead but what else have I got to do.Wayne Gomes

You mean a guy who made a 53-man roster that's supposed to be one of the best defenses in football this year? That Oliver Hoyte? Because the Patriots could probably use a player or two like that. Just a thought.
As for your question about the picks, smart mouth, the Patriots have their own 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th round picks after reportedly shipping a 5th to the Raiders for Doug Gabriel. They also now reportedly have the Seahawks 1st rounder and a conditional pick from the Cardinals that's likely a 7th rounder in the Brandon Gorin trade. There is also a possibility the team will get a conditional pick in the Patrick Cobbs trade, although I think that is doubtful considering he was cut shortly after making the 53-man roster in Pittsburgh and is now balking at joining the team's practice squad. The team certainly will also get some compensatory picks next spring for the losses of Givens, Adam Vinatieri, Matt Chatham, Tom Ashworth and others, although McGinest is not included in that group because he was cut and was not an unrestricted free agent.
By the way, do questions about the draft mean you have already given up on this season? That would take it to a new level even for Patriots fans.
Andy Hart

Who do I need to talk to in order to get Troy Brown into the Patriots' Hall of Fame? In an era of overpaid, "me-first" athletes, Troy Brown exemplifies the reason the Patriots have become a dynasty in recent years. Never have I heard anything about him holding out or causing any sort of disruption off the field, and yet he seems to do more when he's on the field than many of the so-called "elite" players in the NFL! He plays 4 different positions (WR, PR, DB, QB), he takes the pay cut to stay with his team, and he seems to do all of it in a very amicable sort of way. Troy Brown is my hero, and if you'll excuse me, I have to go purchase 3 more of his jerseys...one for every position he plays.
Andrew Brown

I don't have any doubt that one day Brown will be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. But right now he's still busy in his role as maybe this team's No. 1 wide receiver. It's year 14 and he's still going strong. He's a great player, great teammate and works as hard as anyone to do whatever the team asks of him. But lets not ride him off into the sunset too soon. He's still needed and hopefully will have a productive season.
Andy Hart

Chance of the Pats picking up David Boston?Jason Walker

Zero.
Andy Hart

I would like to be one of the first to say goodbye to Deion Branch. Don't let the doorknob hit you on the way out! Yeah he's a good receiver but not worthy of a 1st round pick. Even if there wasn't a holdout, getting a 1st for Deion Branch is an excellent return. My question is do you think the Patriots will use any of the freed up cash to re-sign Graham or are they prepared to let him go now that Watson is emerging? If not Graham then who is a priority to negotiate with during the regular season?Chris A.

First, cap room hasn't been a problem with this team this summer. Yes, the Branch trade takes his $1 million salary off the books, but the team was already reportedly $13 million under the cap. So there's always been room financially to work on anything the team wanted to do. I do believe in the end the Patriots will use the cap money in some fashion and not just let it go to waste. I'm sure Graham would listen to contract extension offers, as would guys like Asante Samuel and Dan Koppen. I actually think that Koppen might be a guy to keep an eye on for a potential extension. Now that he's back from the shoulder injury and playing, if he can stay healthy I think he's a guy the coaches like in the middle and running the Patriots offensive line. I get the feeling, and some recent quotes in the Boston Globe suggest, that Graham might be looking to test free agency next spring and see what he can get on the open market. But don't worry, the Patriots will use up their financial resources in a value-based, creative way. I'd bet my life on it.
Andy Hart

I noticed that the Steelers after trading for Cobbs cut him. Even thought the running game looked very strong against the Bills, can the Patriots sign Cobbs back to the practice squad and will the Patriots still receive the draft pick they traded for? They have room for him with the cutting of Smith and the elevation of Childress.SFC Gerard Dubois

New England could sign Cobbs to the practice squad, just as any other team could. Interestingly he cleared waivers and turned down a chance to join the Pittsburgh practice squad and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that he is expected to sign with another team's practice squad. Could that be the Patriots? Stay tuned. And because Cobbs was released just days after making the 53-man roster in Pittsburgh, I doubt New England will get a pick in the deal.
Andy Hart

OK, please humor me, as I already feel like enough of a moron even asking this question, but. . . What exactly is the practice squad? Is it some kind of a slush fund of players who aren't good enough to make the regular 53-man roster but are too good to flat out release? Can they be "brought up" to regular season play during the season to fill in for injured players or for other purposes? Do they get paid? Are they protected from grabs by other teams? I tried to find the answer to this elsewhere with no luck, but seems like something I should know. No harm asking! Thanks.Mirtanda Good

The practice squad is an 8-man group for each team that's made up of players with limited experience. The players must clear waivers at the end of camp and cannot have an accrued season of NFL experience. Such players can now spend up to three years on a practice squad. They are paid a minimum of $4,700 a week, but can be paid more if a team so chooses. Any team can sign players from a practice squad, their own or anyone else's, to the active roster at any time. If a team signs a player to the active roster off another team's practice squad that player remains on the roster for three weeks and is guaranteed three weeks of pay. This information is based on the expired CBA and the details could change slightly under the still to be released new CBA extension.
Andy Hart

Can the patriots or any team for that matter claim anyone off another teams practice squad? Say Skyler Green from Dallas at another point.Mike Dawyskiba

A lot of good practice squad talk this week, always a big seller. Players on practice squads are essentially free agents, meaning they can choose to sign with any team's active roster at any time. So, if the Patriots wanted Green they could offer him a contract. If he chose to sign with New England he would have to stay on the active roster for three weeks.
Andy Hart

Hey guys from Ask PFW I was just looking at the Pats depth chart and something caught my eye. The tight end spot has Daniel Graham as 1st string. I really think that Ben Watson should be 1st string. He's got nice speed, great hands, and personally I think he could catch more passes than one of the receivers. What do you think?Kwonnie

You are on to something that's changed in recent years. For a long time the depth chart included only one tight end and one starting fullback. As such Watson was listed as a backup at tight end even though he started many games. Now with New England's propensity for multiple tight end formations, the public relations staff for the team now lists its depth chart with no fullback and two tight ends. So both Watson and Graham are listed as starters, deservedly so since they both start most games. And I agree with you, Watson has a chance to be the team's leading receiver this season.
Andy Hart

I was wondering if you had any idea what Doug Gabriel's contract looks like. Not so much the money, but how many years he has left. I think we got a steal by only having to give up a 5th round pick for him, especially if he has more than one year remaining. I don't see him being a quick fix at the WR position, but I'm picturing a nice WR tandem of Gabriel and Chad Jackson to open the season next year.Jay Corbeille

Gabriel's current deal runs through the 2007 season. He has a salary of $800,000 for this season and $545,000 for next season. Gabriel clearly has some big-play ability, size and is an intriguing option. I just don't know how quickly he can forge a relationship with Brady and work his way into the offense. He certainly has the potential to be a contributor.
Andy Hart

What do the colors of the training camp uniforms mean? I gathered that white was offense, blue was defense, and red was no contact. What do yellow and green shirts mean? What did the orange caps on the helmets mean? Thank you.
Vega Buchbinder

The yellow and green jerseys, worn over the regular practice jerseys, are used to designate scout team players, often with the numbers of the real players such as No. 7 for Michael Vick or No. 88 for Marvin Harrison. The caps on the helmets are also used to designate the scout or look team players, mostly on special teams plays that involve players with both blue and white jerseys.
Andy Hart

Hi guys! What do you expect to see from Ben Watson this season. We all know he is a great athlete who can catch the ball but, will he be a Ben Coates type player or what he has been so far? Which is a 30-40 catch per season guy? I really hope he busts out and plays like a Ben Coates did. That could be a huge help to this already great offense. Lastly what is His contract status? Thanks
Curtis

Watson has the potential to be an even bigger play version of Coates, but still has a lot to prove. So far he hasn't even been a "30-40" catch guy. He missed all but one game as a rookie with a knee injury and then caught 29 passes for 441 yards and four scores last season. I think he could double that production this season, but he still has to prove it on the field. And as far as his contract goes, he signed a six-year deal as a rookie in 2004 so he's under contract through 2009.
Andy Hart

After all the info on Ray Ventrone during this years NFL Europe season , what happened to him? He isn't listed as having been cut or on the Patriots final roster and we never did see him in the preseason?Ray Boucher

Ventrone injured his shoulder near the end of the NFL Europe season. The Patriots placed him (along with Earl Charles and Zuriel Smith) on the Reserve/non-football injury-NFL Europe list on August 29.
Andy Hart

Is Tom Brady going to be probable with a shoulder injury for the rest of his career?Nathan Graf

I'd say the chances of that, at least for the foreseeable future, are probable.
Andy Hart

Hey guys! I'll keep this one short and sweet. How was Bam Childress signed to the practice squad? I thought if a player played so much as a down in a regular season game they become ineligible for the practice squad. And if I'm not mistaken, Childress played the final regular season game against Miami last year. Obviously I'm mistaken somewhere, so please explain. Thanks!Joel Lindgren

More practice squad chat, I love it. Players become ineligible for the practice squad when the get an accrued NFL season. An accrued season is one in which a players spends six or more games on the active roster. Childress was only on the active roster for one game last season, spending the bulk of the year on the practice squad. As such he has two more year's of practice squad eligibility assuming he doesn't achieve an accrued season this year.
Andy Hart

Who were the coaches during 1961 thru 1979?
Arlene Dodds

I am assuming your are talking about the head coaches, because I'm sure as heck not listing every assistant coach from two decades of teams. Lou Saban started the '61 season, but was replaced by Mike Holovak who held the head job through the 1968 season. Clive Rush took over in 1969 and lasted through seven games of the 1970 season. John Mazur finished the 1970 season and lasted through nine games of 1972. Phil Bengston went 1-4 finishing up that season. Chuck Fairbanks got the head job to start the 1973 season and lasted until the end of the 1978 campaign. Amid controversy that year, Ron Erhardt and Hank Bullough led the team as co-head coaches to a loss in the playoffs, but Erhardt stuck on to take over the head coaching duties in 1979 and remained through the 1981 season. I hope that answers your questions. If you want all the assistants email in again and I'm sure Paul or Tom can handle it for you.
Andy Hart

It wasn't pretty but a gutsy win against Bills. I have one question though. Upon replay the Brady "fumble" on the first play of the game looked clearly like his arm was coming forward for a pass when the ball came out. In fact looking at the replay it did not even look like a close call -- his arm was clearly coming forward. Has the rule changed on this play or is this not reviewable? I really wondered why BB did not throw out the red flag. I know it was the first play of the game but it was a huge play. I end with a comment -- I am sure happy to be rid of the heartless cry-baby Branch.J.P. Bordileau

The play is reviewable. I didn't really think it was all that close and since he didn't challenge it, I am assuming that Belichick agrees. If Belichick could have prevented the score he would have. It was a fumble and it was time to move on to the next possession. Sorry, but you are the first sore loser, I mean person I've heard even talk about challenging that play.
Andy Hart

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