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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Dec 03 | 04:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Patriots March-ing along to the offseason beat

So...Any progress on the NFL's investigation into the Patriot's under inflated balls during the Colts game?...Or, did that end with the revelation that one of the league officials was trying to profit from selling a game ball?

Jack Delaney

The investigation has not concluded as of yet, but the league is still going to release a full report of that investigation soon. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told MMQB.com this week that Ted Wells is "getting near the end" of his investigation. It will be interesting to see when Wells' report on the investigation comes and what exactly it finds.

Andy Hart

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Hey PFW [in Progress, online radio at patriots.com], just sending a shoutout from Australia to say thank you for being the greatest show about the greatest team in the greatest sport on earth. I listen to your podcasts on my morning commute and come close to peeing my pants from laughing every time. It can be lonely being an NFL and Patriots fan down under, but your show makes me feel like I'm not on the other side of the earth to Pats Nation. Keep on doing your thing, Go Pats!

Kit L.

I'm not opposed to being buttered up. Thanks for the love, mate! And I'd urge Patriots fans everywhere to tune into PFW in Progress on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-2 on Patriots.com throughout the offseason or listen any time via podcast! It's a unique show tailored for Patriots fans all across the globe.

Andy Hart

Hi. Now that Darrelle Revis left the Patriots to go back to the Jets, we need a new CB to strengthen the secondary. Do you think Bill Belichick can draft someone as good but really controversial as Josh Shaw from USC? I ask because it seems Pats like to take advantage of controversial players. Thanks and regards.

Herbi

I do think that drafting a cornerback, maybe in the first round, is on the agenda for the Patriots this spring. Shaw is an interesting, versatile prospect. He went from team captain at USC to a lying, red-flag prospect in a quick spin of fiction last summer with the story about jumping out a window to save his supposedly drowning nephew. He's certainly got a lot of questions to answer for NFL teams. He's projected by NFLDraftScout.com to be a third-round pick. He's not the guy to be counted on to solve a team's CB needs, but he might be a value prospect with upside. Rest assured, the Patriots will do their due diligence on the player and his unique story. Then they'll decide where his value lies and if he's an option for the team. Time will tell.

Andy Hart

Lost in how great the secondary was this year, and then with Browner and Revis leaving, is the linebacking corps. With Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo we have a Pro Bowl linebacker and two more who are on the fringe of the Pro Bowl. My question is when all three are healthy do we have the best starting linebackers in the NFL?

Joseph Kellar

If – and that's a big if – all three were healthy at the same time, the Patriots linebackers would have a chance to be considered one of the best groups in the NFL in 2015. But with both Mayo and Hightower coming off surgeries, that's no guarantee. Mayo's contract also puts his future a little bit in doubt. Collins is probably the most intriguing of the three at this point. He's a potential budding star if he can continue his progression. The 49ers were formerly the measuring stick group at linebacker, but age and injuries have taken from the San Francisco corps. Now, I think the Patriots are certainly in the mix for the best group of three or four linebackers in the league.

Andy Hart

What are your thoughts on the chances of the Patriots repeating next year?

Neftali Hernandez

Immediately after the Super Bowl and before the departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner I thought the Patriots had a great chance of repeating. I have to be honest and admit that I don't think the chances are nearly as good at this point in the team-building process. I have plenty of concerns about the defense, primarily the back end. We know that with Belichick on board and if Tom Brady stays healthy the Patriots will be the favorite to win the AFC East. They should be in the postseason with a chance to make things happen. But we've also seen that it can be a jump from that point to actually getting to and winning the Super Bowl. The team isn't as good today as it was when the Super Bowl ended. Theoretically the competition in the AFC East has improved. New England is always considered to be one of the top teams in the conference to open the season. That's true once again. But I would say it's very much in that pack of Super Bowl contenders rather than being at the head of that pack. Check back with me in September.

Andy Hart

Many people are complaining about the Pats activity in free agency. If I understand the salary cap issue though, in reality they are limited since they have about $11M in cap space and about $8M of that has to be saved for drafted rookies. Can you highlight the impact of the salary cap on our free agency options?

Tom

The salary cap is a factor in every decision a team makes in free agency, at least on some level. It's just like we all live within a budget in our lives. But the cap doesn't necessarily stop a team from making any one or two decisions. The Patriots do not need to keep $8 million for drafted players. That number will be down around a couple million. They do need some room for the various expenses that come up during the year due to injuries, trades and roster moves. But that doesn't account for nearly $8 million. A larger consideration for big-money free agents at this point is that the team will be looking at potential contract extensions very soon for the likes of Nate Solder, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, something that Robert Kraft referenced this week in his comments at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

Andy Hart

I like the look of our pass-catching group and the way it is panning out for this upcoming season, but do you think it would be a bad thing to add a little more depth behind our receivers and add the likes of WR Mike Williams or Santonio Holmes or both. I know Williams looked terrible in Buffalo, but honestly I don't think Buffalo even knew what they were doing last year. He had a solid year with the Bucs the year before and he would be yet another red zone threat. Who or what do you cover? Run with Blount or pass with the game on the line to Gronk, Chandler or Williams? Holmes was a Super Bowl MVP at one time and probably has a little gas in the tank left. I am sure the veterans combine will give us a better look, but could BB re-ignite the fire from Holmes we once saw when he was catching the Super Bowl-winning touchdown against Arizona?

David K.

I don't have any interest in either of the two guys you mentioned. I think Holmes is old, all done and of questionable character at this point. Williams, in my opinion, just doesn't fit on a football team. He was a problem at Syracuse. He was a problem in Tampa. He was a problem in Buffalo. He seems to be a lot of trouble to deal with in a team environment and not good enough to be worth anywhere close to that trouble. Could the Patriots add depth and playmaking at receiver? Sure, if it were the right guy at the right price. Those guys aren't the right guys, no matter how cheap the price.

Andy Hart

Does the [Scott] Chandler signing mean that Tim Wright may evolve into a true wide receiver instead? He's had some success on longer routes at both Tampa Bay and in his limited with the Patriots last year. Although Wright plus LaFell are not the ideal stretch-the-field option, those players (such as Moss, Crabtree) seem to always come with baggage. Also, would the Chandler signing threaten Devlin's roster spot, as Hooman plays a hybrid role? As they've been disappointed with their long snapper performance, why not Ninko play that role (as he did in Miami) and free up a roster spot elsewhere (probably corners, the way things are going?

Pete

Hampshire, England (originally Wayland)

I have two questions. Now that the Patriots have signed former Bills veteran TE Scott Chandler to the roster, how confident do you feel that Gronkowski and Chandler's presumptive on-field chemistry will bolster the offense's success ala the tandem that was created in 2010-12 with Hernandez? Do you think Josh McDaniels will use TE Hoomanawanui, Wright in situational/red zone plays only if a Gronk/Chandler duo is mainstay?  Thanks.

Colin Michael

The tight end roles and roster spots will certainly be something to watch this summer, and that includes the overlapping with the fullback position. Clearly Gronkowski and Chandler will be on the team and have roles if healthy. That's about all we know at this point. I don't think it's really a lock for either Hoomanawanui or Wright to be on the roster. Same for Develin. Hoomanawanui is the only real tight end blocker after Gronkowski. I don't get too caught up in labels of receiver or tight end with players. All I consider is whether Wright is good enough to make the team and get on the field with any regularity. I'm not sure about that and wouldn't be stunned if he didn't make the roster. We know the passing game will count on Julian Edelman, Gronkowski and likely LaFell if they are all healthy. The rest of the roster spots and roles are very much up for grabs. I'm not even really sure how Chandler will fit with Gronkowski. He's not as athletic and versatile as a guy like Hernandez. And a lot of his best work came against the Patriots. He, like most of the rest, will decide what his role will be based on his relationship with Tom Brady and his ability to take advantage of his opportunities.

Andy Hart

Love your stuff and read you guys faithfully: This is my take on the Revis negotiation, and then I have a question for you guys. First of all, is there any doubt that Belichick is the ULTIMATE contrarian? So, you're convinced they can't win it again without Revis, think again. This was sooo predictable. As soon as the talking heads lined up to state 'they can't let this guy walk'…bye, bye Darrelle. He does this over and over again every draft. What seems obvious to even the most casual observer is a million miles from what Belichick is thinking. Secondly, Revis is NOT THEIR GUY! McCourty IS THEIR GUY! All things being equal, that's why he's here and Revis isn't. However, the piece I really don't understand is if the Pats really felt that Revis wanted to go back to NY, then why didn't they pick up his second year and offer him in a trade to the jets for a middle round pick….or trade him to any other team for that matter for a pick? What was to be lost? Let the trade partner work out the long term deal. They owed him nothing, business is business, each got what they wanted from last year. I have to feel that several teams would have lined up to get a real shot at Revis. Why let Revis and Browner, BOTH UNDER CONTRACT, walk for NOTHING!! I would like to serve a few sodium pentothal cocktails to Belichick and the boys and sit down for a chat over those moves.

South Shore Bob

If the Patriots had picked up Revis' option for $12 million and then traded him that would have left a $17 million dead money cap charge for him on the New England cap. That made no sense. That was never an option. It was either pick up the option to let him play with a $25 million cap charge or decline it and let him hit free agency. On a much lesser level, the same was true for Browner. Picking up his option and then trading him would have led to dead money on the cap. And I'm of the belief that Browner was most valuable working opposite Revis and not replacing him. He's a big, man corner. If the team isn't going to be able to play man next year, then I don't think it made sense to bring Browner back. I certainly don't think he's a No. 1 cornerback. I have no problem letting Browner go. I'm still not sold that letting Revis walk was the right move. But, as Mr. Kraft has said, Belichick's track record in these controversial personnel matters is pretty solid.

Southcoast Andy

Looks as if the Patriots are piecing together their defense to fill holes from some key pieces leaving. Are there any chances they kick the tires on MLB Rolando McClain? He was something pretty special at Alabama and then fell into the black hole that is the Oakland Raiders. Had a pretty good year with Dallas this past year. What are the chances the Pats go after him as insurance for Mayo or maybe even putting both of them in the middle in a 3-4 scenario?

J.T.

Belichick has said that reliability is often as important as ability. McClain has shown in his short career to be unreliable based on his decisions and his health. He also has an NFL fine for violating the league's drug policy hanging over his head. He did play well for Dallas last year, but I don't see him as a fit in New England. I also don't see the Patriots going back to a full-time, 3-4 look on defense that would require the likes of Mayo and McClain in the middle. So it doesn't seem to work on a lot of levels, even for a guy who had great success under Belichick-buddy Nick Saban in college.

Andy Hart

Is there a chance that the Patriots make a move for trading Adrian Peterson?? Is it better to get a RB early in the draft such as Melvin Gordon?? I would love to see Michael Crabtree with the Pats jersey, what you guys think?

Luis Valenzuela

I can't imagine the Patriots trading for Peterson for two reasons – money and his off-field situation. First, a trade would acquire a big contract and a guy supposedly looking for big money on any re-worked deal. Second, Kraft was very vocal saying Ray Rice would never play for his team, so I can't imagine another guy with domestic violence issues would be a prime target, either. In my mind what Peterson did was even worse than Rice and I would never want him on my team. He has the right to play, just not for me. But that's not a decision I'd ever get to make. He also has a lot of wear on his body, so I would much rather get a back in the draft. I don't really love Gordon and think that Todd Gurley is the true elite back in this draft. Sure he's coming off the ACL, but given his talent that's a risk worth taking in this day and age. Crabtree was a guy many targeted as a potential Patriots target when free agency opened. He remains available but I haven't heard much linking the sides even as the Patriots have added a couple lesser receivers in free agency. Crabtree is reportedly willing to wait as long as possible for the right deal for himself. I doubt that will be in New England.

Andy Hart

It's been a while since I bugged you guys, but free-agency fever has me in its grasp. I am wondering if the Patriots are going to keep four TEs on the roster, or is preseason going to be a competition between Hooman. Wright and Chandler, and is there a chance they will bring in any others to add to that mix? I'm also interested to know more about RBs Dion Lewis and Tyler Gaffney. Are they likely to compete with what's left of the backfield? Oh, and one more thing; what's the situation with Garrett Gilbert? Is there much chance he makes the team as more than a practice squad scrub?

Doug Tozier

I think Chandler has a roster spot. I doubt the Patriots will keep four tight ends and a fullback. So that means the summer could definitely see a competition between Wright, Hoomanawanui and James Develin for the same one or two roster spots. It's a long way to go between now and then, though. Lewis is a tiny prospect who I don't see as really being in the backfield mix as more than anything but a training camp body. Gaffney might be different. He's a big, workhorse guy based on his final season in a pro-style Stanford offense. He could be a true backup to Blount. And I can't envision any way that Gilbert is anything more than a training camp guy, probably even a longshot for even the practice squad.

Andy Hart

Although I was hoping the Patriots would attempt to draft a receiver that can really take the top off a defense (as I have been since Randy Moss's departure), after our free agent losses, it seems like guard, defensive tackle and corner are going to be what our first three rounds consist of, in no particular order. My question though is, what kind of chance do you think the Patriots stand in trading up, out of that 32 spot for a higher level talent, given the accumulative losses this offseason?

Caleb Tinsely

Given that Belichick has nine draft picks to work with, including five in the top 101 selections, he certainly has the ammo to trade up in the draft if the right player is available. That probably wouldn't be more than into the mid-20s, but it still might be enough to go up and get the guy he wants. It worked with Chandler Jones. I agree with your assessment of the team's top needs heading into the draft, although that doesn't always marry up with the available talent. At this point, given my probably naive view that it's easier to get a guard or a defensive tackle, I think I'd put the cornerback spot as the top priority early in the draft.

Andy Hart

Last year's schedule saw the Patriots play the AFC West and NFC North, both divisions with high-powered passing offenses. Do you think that Belichick would build his team to be able to stand toe to toe with their passing attacks? The Patriots won't be playing any great quarterbacks next season (with the exception of the three AFC division winners), could that have played into his willingness to let both starting corners walk? Many thanks from Ireland.

Adam Williams

Could it have played into it? I guess, but I don't think it's likely. I think Belichick made financial decisions and value-based choices. Just like I think he does with most things. Generally I think he likes to build his team to be as strong and versatile as possible. To get to and win the Super Bowl a team has to play a lot of different opponents with a lot of different skills sets and schemes. Building a team to play one style or beat one type of opponent is short-sighted, at best. So while it may look the way you paint it on paper, I don't think that was the reality of Belichick's team building the last two offseasons.

Andy Hart

After winning the Super Bowl, the Patriots have made a concerted effort to clear up a lot of space by letting Revis, Browner, Wilfolk, etc. go. Initially I thought they must be preparing to make a big signing to fill vacated roster spots, but now almost all quality players are signed and it seems they've returned to past habit (post Adalius Thomas) of bargain shopping ie. Antwan Molden at CB. Do you think it's possible the Patriots might be planning to use Edelman or Danny Amendola in defensive backfield next season?

PS -I realize they can probably win the division by riding Brady's shoulders.

Eric Larson

No, I don't think there is any chance at this point that the Patriots are planning to use either slot receiver in the secondary this coming season. Sure we've seen that in the past with Edelman and Troy Brown, but I can't imagine that any March plan to replace Revis and Browner includes the use of wide receivers. Sorry. At least I hope it doesn't. I also don't think the Patriots were clearing cap space as much as they were making what they believed to be cap-smart financial decisions with an eye on this year and the years moving forward. I don't think those are the same.

Andy Hart

Hello. What do you guys think of the Jabaal Sheard pickup? I honestly don't know what to think of it, I know he showed potential, but I don't think we need to spend 5 mill a year on a player who was in contract to make that much over 4 years. Also what do you think of the Patriots trading for a big name corner, and if so who do you think would be available? Thanks, Go Pats.

Kyle Carter

My initial reaction to the Sheard signing was a positive one. I liked him coming out of college and he showed early flashes of being a really productive NFL edge guy. His production has fallen through the years and that's a concern. But I think he'll be the best guy the team has had as a third edge player to open a year in a long time. That's a positive. I think he can play the run and the pass. He can play down or on two feet. I think he's the type of guy that Belichick will find a way to use in a productive way. But you are right, he better be to earn his paycheck. At this point I don't see an obvious potential target for trade at cornerback, certainly not a guy of the ilk of Talib or Revis. Cornerbacks are tough to come by and teams usually try to hang onto them. It would be nice for a legit option to come into fruition but I don't see it right now.

Andy Hart

Thanks all for a great job following the Pats. My question is if a guy like Bradley Fletcher does not make the team with a $2.5 mill signing how much of a salary cap hit do the Patriots take? My comment is that Revis is great, but I do not like the idea of him making way more than everyone else. Thank you.

Dave M.

Arizona

Fletcher received a reported $300,000 signing bonus and $250,000 in guaranteed salary. If cut in or after camp, he would also have already been paid his $100,000 workout bonus. So his dead money on the cap if he doesn't make the team would be $650,000. That is enough money that it's highly likely that he will indeed make the roster this season. We all agree that Revis is great. The biggest question is whether he will continue to be great and how long that will last. But I have no problem paying the best players the most amount of money, that's the way it works.

Andy Hart

With the departure of Vereen and the uncertain future of Ridley what are the chances the Pats look at someone like Northern Iowa's David Johnson in the draft to fill Vereen's role. He is excellent in the passing game and above average blocking with multiple skill sets that fit the "tweener" role that the Pats covet. This seems like a cost-friendly option as Johnson projects as a 3-4 round pick.

Brandon Boleyn

The most cost-friendly option would be a guy already on the New England roster – 2014 fourth-round pick James White. Ideally he'd take the role and run (and catch) with it. But he's a bit unknown after being a healthy scratch for 13 games as a rookie. I really like Johnson as a unique player who is bigger than the usual NFL passing pack but very productive and talented. He's by no means a sure-fire NFL playmaker, but he has a chance. But it would be telling in terms of what the team thinks of White if it uses another mid-round pick on a passing back.

Andy Hart

Am I the only one who thinks that O-line is the #1 need? With this horrible defense Bill should get a great linemen to match the beasts in our division and to be able to run the ball to take pressure off the defense. I believe we need two elite guards (Wendell can't stop what's coming and we have no LG) Why are the Patriots and analysts ignoring the O-line as the major need? I need an answer please. Thank you PFW.

Sal Gaither

You "need an answer?" Little pushy of you, but I'll go with it. And for the record, we have no idea that the Patriots are "ignoring" the offensive line prospects as a major need for the draft. Actually, it seems quite the contrary as the team sent former offensive line coaching legend Dante Scarnecchia to the Combine to scout the prospects a year after he played a role in landing Bryan Stork. So they don't seem to be ignoring it on any level. And many analysts have voiced the need for a guard relatively early in the draft, with that need balanced out with the need for cornerback and defensive line help. And just drafting a guard or two doesn't mean the team will flip a switch and be able to turn into a run-first attack. That's as much about scheme and backfield talent as it is the offensive line. It's a multi-factorial puzzle. You are welcome, Sal.

Andy Hart

It seems to me in that letting both Revis & Browner go the Pats might be looking at working on a whole new defensive game plan for the new season. How do you see this materializing? Perhaps a strong unit that focuses on the rush and disrupting the QB next season instead of defending the pass?

Pete Cee

That's a fine theory as people look for ways for the New England defense to be better without its top two corners, but I'm not sure I buy it. Where is the big jump in pass rush and pressure coming from? Sheard? Blitzes? I can't envision it at this point. I also can't really recall a high-level defense that got by simply with rush on pass defense. Usually that goes hand in hand with good to very good play in the back end. Maybe you are onto the team's plan, but it's going to take some work to convince me it's going to be successful.

Andy Hart

I am not in panic mode, as many are, I think, because "In Bill I Trust". That being said, I am concerned about the loss of so many quality defensive players. Wilfork, Revis, Browner, and Ayers were key players. My question is about the potential trade or release of Kyle Arrington. Of all the players on the Patriots roster, he is the only one I fail to understand how he makes the roster year after year, and sees significant playing time. I think it was evident in the Super Bowl... and thankfully he was pulled and Butler put in... or we'd be 4-4 in Super Bowls. I'm not sure what his cap number is, but maybe we could release him, free up MORE money, and get a talented free agent CB in there?

Greg White

The top two corners are already gone so your plan is to get rid of the No. 3 corner? I can't say I love the way you are thinking. I have never been a huge Arrington guy, but I thought he had a solid year in the slot last fall and has been a reliable if at times beatable contributor for years. He has bad matchups at times and is WAY better inside than out. He was out-sized in the Super Bowl. That's true. But I also think at this point he may be the best corner on the team. He has a $4.6 million cap figure for 2015. He would have over $800,000 in dead money if cut. Either way, there aren't any higher-end corners left on the market and if Arrington were gone I'd feel worse about the New England secondary than I do right now.

Andy Hart

Obviously filling CB hole(s) is a pressing need. Have not seen much news on Charles Tillman. Do you think the Pats would go for him? Might still have some left in the tank, could sign at a value contract (coming off injury), and seems to have the character BB loves.

C. Hart

Hello from Argentina. What do you think would be a good choice as looking for a veteran cornerback in FA? If he can stay healthy, I think, Charles Tillman can fill that hole. He's coming back from two season-ending injuries, but if he has a good recovery from injuries, he'll be an excellent starting cornerback and nice mentor for the young CBs on the team. And why don't the Pats look for three-down runner (it´s hard, I know) in place of a lot of RB with different skills or strong points? Greetings from Argentina!

Andres Odorico

A Hart and an Andres with the same question for Andy? Mind blown! Tillman has played in just 10 total games the last two years and is 34 years old. Those are two strikes against him. Before that, the veteran was extremely reliable and durable. He still wants to play but doesn't seem to have earned a lot of interest on the open market, even in a cornerback-needy league. That probably tells us something about what talent evaluators feel about his skills at this point in his career. As for the running backs, I think you answered your own question. Three-down backs are hard to find, hard to keep and hard to keep healthy. Putting too much stock in one guy leaves a big hole when he's out of action. I think the Patriots prefer the cost and versatility of the committee approach in the backfield, although I don't ever think they'd rule out having one, elite guy at the position if the circumstances fell into place.

Andres Hart

I really do think that BB is trying to do what he did in 07, stack the offense, score a lot of points and make the other team outscore them to beat them.

Rodrick Castille

That may be the case, but I don't see the elite offense in place that the team had in 2007. There is no game-changing, Moss-like deep threat. The overall attack isn't nearly as deep from top to bottom. And one other danger with that plan is that Brady is now eight years older and putting it all on his right shoulder might not be the best plan. But, maybe you're right. We'll have to sit back and watch how things unfold.

Andy Hart

Hey guys! Been a while since submitting a question! So here goes nothing with a 2-parter! (1) Are we done with the Deflategate Saga, or is there the potential for any future fallout? (2) Jonas Gray- nobody is bringing this topic up at all in any discussions. Did I miss the story where he was abducted by aliens and I need to order a new Championship Tin Foil Hat from the Pro Shop!

James Hachey

Deflategate won't be over until the Wells report is released by the league. It sounds like that could be coming soon, but no one is really saying exactly when that will be. Gray is obvioulsy an interesting guy. He had great success in one game. He then did little after that and was inactive for the Super Bowl. From Sports Illustrated cover to off the radar. I don't get the sense he's a long-term part of the plan on offense. Talking to him before the Super Bowl he was already focused on 2015 and trying to get ready to earn a role and take advantage of his opportunities. If he is and whether he gets many of those will be something to watch. But if I were him I'd rent and not buy, as they say.

Andy Hart

With Shane Vereen no longer on the roster and Stevan Ridley likely to sign with another team do you see Tyler Gaffney in a bigger role in the offense? Also, between now and the start of training camp could you see the Pats trading for a veteran corner? If not could Devin McCourty play more of a corner role in the defense with a quality back up in Duran Harmon at safety?

Jake Prue

I don't see Gaffney having much relation to Vereen. I think any NFL future he might have would be as a true workhorse back, maybe as a backup to Blount. I don't see him as a third-down/passing back. Gaffney also has a lot to prove as a late-round pick with one year of college production. I also am not sure Ridley won't be a part of the mix. I have said all along I could easily see him returning on a short, prove-it deal. And I have no interest in seeing McCourty go back to corner. That was an absolute disaster after his rookie year. Remember when Joe Flacco was just dropping back and targeting him every play against the Ravens? That was awful. I don't ever want to see that again and think he's now nicely entrenched at safety. I think the cornerback solution needs to come from elsewhere.

Andy Hart

Greetings from England! Which of the AFC East rivals worries you the most? Also, with the way the teams are constructed, all three look like 'ground and pound' offenses so, with Vince Wilfork now in Houston, is our defensive line good enough against the run with Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga in the middle and whichever nose tackle we (presumably) pick up in the draft?

David Beckett

Right now, I'm going with the Bills as the second-best team in the AFC East. I like Rex Ryan as a coach, especially early on with a new team. I like his defensive talent. I like Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy as playmakers. And, unlike most, I think Matt Cassel can manage an offense and avoid mistakes. He did it for one year in Kansas City and did it well enough for one year in New England. If he can do that for the Bills they should compete for a playoff spot. Certainly losing Wilfork up front is a concern, but I just never think the Patriots will lose consistently because other teams are running the ball. The run defense will be a concern, as it was early last year, but I don't think it will end up being the team's fatal flaw.

Andy Hart

Hello, late submission here but I was just checking out the recently released compensatory picks awarded to the Pats. I wanted to know if the Pats are gaining the picks for the loss of Revis and the bunch this offseason, or the loss of Talib and others from last? At first I thought it was from this offseason but felt big Vince and Browner were worth way more than a 7th, so it couldn't be? Care to share your wisdom on the Compensatory pick process?

Mike Ruiz

The picks New England received – a third and a seventh – were due to the loss of players last offseason. The NFL's formula for the picks is not specifically known, but generally it compares unrestricted free agents signed to those lost, taking into account playing time and contracts. Teams that lose good, high-priced free agents and don't sign any get the higher picks, the highest of which comes after the final traditional pick of the third round. That's the pick the Patriots got this year for losing Talib. It could get the same pick or more next year for losing Revis.

Andy Hart

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