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Patriots Replay Thu May 28 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW, Part II: Random thoughts

Now that the 2009 salary cap has been increased, do you think the Pats will either focus on the large number of their current players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of this year or look to free agents during the summer?
Joe Paretti

Well, both, Joe. They're still looking at potential free agents right now – what's left of them, at any rate – and it's not even officially summer yet. Free agency is at its height in late February and early March. By the time summer actually gets here, nearly all the worthwhile free agents will have been plucked by one team or another.

And sure, theoretically, the extra breathing room under the cap could help with some of the negotiations to extend current contracts, but we'll probably never know just how much that will have been a factor, if any of those players (e.g., Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour) wind up re-signing.
Erik Scalavino

What do you think of possibly Matt Jones joining the Patriots receiving corps? I think it would be great – he would be relativity cheap, he isn't facing a suspension, and he would add some good depth because the Patriots don't have much behind Moss and Welker. I think he would also make the offense even better because of his big frame, he's very talented, and maybe he could even be in some Wildcat plays.
Michael Giangrande

Jones is a gifted athlete, especially for his size. And he was a quarterback at Arkansas, so, yes, he could probably be involved in Wildcat situations. Thing is, his behavioral and substance abuse history are enormous concerns. Anytime a guy has the word "cocaine" associated with his name, I get skittish. There have just been too many talented athletes who've had coke problems over the years and haven't been able to overcome them (remember the late Steve Howe?).

Personally, I'd steer clear of Jones, but I'm sure some NFL teams will express interest because of his potential on the field. Will the Patriots be one of them? I'd be surprised if they were. They could always add more talent to the wide receiver position, but they clearly have more depth at that spot than they did a year ago, with the signings of Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis, and the continued emergence of Sam Aiken.
Erik Scalavino

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]()Dear PFW, I recall reading something that [third-round draft pick] Tyrone McKenzie will be offered a "fair" contract by the Patriots now that he is injured. I assume this also means he cannot be dropped from the team this year. Also I understand that none of the rookies have signed contracts with the Pats, which allows the Patriots to have them in OTAs beyond the 80 person limit. I realize that what I am about to ask leans toward the selfish side of players, but if what I have written above is true, doesn't that mean that for the players that begin to suspect that they will not make the team, would it be better for them to be injured during practice before they get cut, as that means they get a "fair" contract offer? (I realize that knowing when to get injured may also be difficult to determine). Second, is there any protection of rookies having a signed contract vs. not having a signed contract? And finally do the Patriots pay the players (rookie or veteran) to participate in OTA's? Thank you.*
*David Ober

Well, David, I have to hand it to you. You redeemed yourself nicely. I reached for the delete button while reading through your question, as the first half of it was among the most asinine we have ever received. But I held off after you posed two legitimate questions at the end. Plus, you signed off with a very polite, 'Thank you,' so I decided to cut you some slack. Let's proceed in order, then …

You are correct that McKenzie, if he is indeed out for the season (which is reported to be the case, but has yet to be officially announced by the team) will eventually be offered a fair market value contract after having been injured during rookie mini-camp last month.
But to suggest that any player would a) assume to know that he is about to cut, and b) subsequently injure himself intentionally to receive similar compensation is a) ill-advised, at best, and b) laughably absurd.

Every player who suits up for an NFL practice is being given a rare job opportunity to showcase himself. He should take advantage of each and every such gift by approaching it with a positive attitude and giving it his all. If, however, a player seems to be getting the sense that he's in danger of being cut, he should express such misgivings to his coaches and ask what he could be doing better to help improve his stock.

Any player who chooses your prescribed course of action is mentally unstable and should not be allowed anywhere near a football field. Because getting injured typically involves contact with another player or players, he'd likely be putting not only himself, but his teammates in jeopardy as well. Think about it: if you were interning for a company, but felt that you weren't going to get hired full-time at the end of your internship, would you try to get hurt on the job to force management to give you some sort of worker's comp deal? It's just ludicrous.

Now, to your second, more rational question. If a player has a signed contract and gets injured, he is protected under the terms of said contract, which could vary on case-by-case bases (as per the league's collective bargaining agreement). Finally, the Patriots (and every other NFL club) are required to compensate players, both rookies and veterans, for their participation in offseason practices.

Again, this varies in scope and dollar amount based on the individual, but in general, they all are offered meal allowances, reimbursement of travel expenses to and from the facility, lodging for any out-of-town players who need it, and a generous weekly per diem payment ($1,225 for vets, $825 for rookies, according to the CBA).
Erik Scalavino

Well after watching last year's defense, I'd say our key area of interest should be our backfield. I know we signed Shawn Springs and Liegh Bodden, but they are well aged. Why do you think Bill Belichick didn't go for Chris McAlister, or someone young like troubled Adam Jones? Do you think that the Pats will look to bring back Ty Law next year?David K.

(Note to readers: the above is a textbook example of why you should always examine what you write in your e-mails before hitting "Send" … )

So, let me get this straight … Springs (34) and Bodden (28) are old – sorry, "well aged" – but Ty Law (35 and an afterthought with the Jets in half a season's work last year) isn't?

And you'd rather have McAlister (whose skills and statistics have been in steady freefall for the past few seasons) and – "troubled" is a kind adjective – Pacman Jones (a decent kick returner but only a below-average corner and an even worse citizen) than Springs (a consistently, highly productive player) or Bodden (in his prime and getting progressively better each year in the league)?

Have I got that right, David? If so, Patriots fans should be eternally grateful that you are not responsible for making personnel decisions for this franchise.
Erik Scalavino

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