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Ask PFW, post-Memorial Day edition

This week's mailbag has a recurring theme - acquiring players from other teams.

With all the turmoil going on in Dallas with Patrick Crayton, wouldn't it make sense to grab a veteran slot receiver/punt returner/kick returner to add to our questionable wide receiver corps? Believe me, I'm just as hopeful as any Patriot fan that Patten, Holt, Price, Tate, and Edelman can all contribute, but is this realistic? I say Jerry Jones owes us one for Dez Bryant, maybe a 4th- or 5th-rounder for Crayton?
Mike Montrond IV

What do you think of trading for Patrick Crayton? I don't think I like the guy from what I've seen of him in the media, but that might just be because he's a Cowboy and I don't like most of them, other than Ware, Spencer and Barber, but I feel like he's a good 3rd or 4th receiver. What do you think Dallas would want for him?
Pascal Rawls-Philippe

Why bother trading for a guy who could easily be cut (and therefore free for the signing) in the near future? From what I've read in the Dallas-area papers, it seems inevitable that the Cowboys will release Crayton, it's just a matter of when, exactly. They apparently tried to trade him back in April, during the draft, but their asking price, whatever that was, was too steep for teams or else Crayton would already be in a new uniform. If, though, a trade is consummated between now and training camp, it would probably be for a low-round draft choice.

Now, at 31 years of age, Crayton is beginning to approach the twilight of his career, but I agree that he still has something left in the tank and would be worth considering if he became available via release. Still, I'm more inclined to give some of the younger players (namely Brandon Tate and Taylor Price) the opportunity to prove themselves right away, and bringing in a veteran like Crayton would only push them further down the depth chart and limit their reps.
Erik Scalavino

Hey guys, look forward to Ask PFW each week. Keep up the great work!! With Keith Bulluck apparently close to a full recovery from ACL surgery, what do you think the chances are he'll sign in NE? Since he's mostly played OLB in a 4-3, how would he translate into our 3-4? Could he solve our OLB shortage, and play opposite TBC? Or would he fit better on the inside with Mayo? I can see that as kind of like when Vrabel flipped inside beside Bruschi, after Ted Johnson retired. I think his leadership and ability would be a huge lift to the D.
Adam Healy, Nova Scotia, Canada

It doesn't make as much sense to me, Adam, as it does to you. For one, Bulluck would be asked to do different things in this defense than he's done throughout his career and there's no reason to believe he has the ability to those things. Second, he's on the lighter side for a 3-4 OLB, which relates to my first point. Third, he played for a number of years under Jim Schwartz, Tennessee's former defensive coordinator and now the Lions head coach. If there's anywhere he'd feel most comfortable outside of Nashville, it's Detroit, because of the familiarity he already has with their scheme. The transition to New England's read-and-react, two-gap 3-4 would just be too much to ask of an 11-year vet who's coming off serious knee surgery, in my estimation.
Erik Scalavino

The Patriots seem to want to go with a committee approach at RB, but they only have a bunch of ordinary backs; there are no real difference makers. Why not trade for Steven Jackson? The Rams might be crazy to give him up, but the Pats have 2 firsts and 2 seconds next year. Surely a first and a second isn't too much for a top 3 running back who just ran for 1,400 yards on a team with a bad line and literally no other weapons. The Rams could use one of the picks to draft a much younger back to grow with their new regime and the Patriots could easily become favorites in the East or even the whole AFC. Does this not make sense?
Sam Frankel

You answered your own question, Sam: the Rams would be crazy to deal Jackson. They just drafted a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, and the safest way to ease him into the NFL is to have an established workhorse behind him in the backfield. Waiting till next year to draft a replacement (which is no guarantee, either, by the way) makes absolutely no sense, from St. Louis' perspective. That said, if the Rams wanted to unload Jackson, I'd be willing to make them an offer, given all the picks New England has, as you mentioned.
Erik Scalavino

Hey guys love your work. Now that LenDale White has been released, is it possible the Patriots pick him up, at least give him a try? He could be the power runner we need.
Israel Lopez

You do realize that his own college coach is the man who just cut him, right? The same Pete Carroll who traded for White during this past draft. That tells me all I need to know about White's desire and commitment to the game. If you're going to trade for a running back, might as well make it a primary ball carrier, like the aforementioned Jackson, not another committee member. Besides, who says the Patriots necessarily need a power runner? What they need is a consistent, effective, all-around player who can stay on the field for two or even three downs. That's not White.
Erik Scalavino

So, you guys heard about the Chris Johnson situation in Tennessee. If the holdout continues, he might get traded. So I'm wondering how much it would take to get Chris Johnson from Titans if he was traded. I mean, it's gotta be worth it considering what he did last year, right?
Robert Petrosyan

It would take quite a bit, I would imagine. The kid is only in the beginning stages of his prime and already has a 2,000-yard season under his belt. I'm just guessing, but if I were Tennessee, I wouldn't accept anything less than two first-round picks for him … if they can't come to a resolution, which I think they will, sooner or later. Don't get your hopes up that Johnson will wind up in New England.
Erik Scalavino

Do you think the Pats should trade for Shawne Merriman?Joshua Estes

We've been asked this question numerous times this offseason, and my answer remains the same: No. Would he be an improvement over what New England currently has at outside linebacker? Perhaps, even with his bum knee. I just don't think he's worth the potential risks, on and off the field, and the drama/baggage he brings with him.
Erik Scalavino

I've been watching Devin McCourty for a couple of years now, and I for one think this was a great move. He brings something that the other corners have not shown: he will hit a guy, and hit him hard. One of the things that helped the Pats win Super Bowl XXXVI was the secondary putting a pounding on the Rams. In the second half, they were scared to catch the ball. Do you think this is a possibility for why he was drafted? If you put him, Meriweather, and (hopefully) Patrick Chung (who's supposed to be a hitter) on the field together, you can create that fear in receivers again. With this and Brandon Spikes coming in, are we seeing a return of the extremely physical defense that won us Super Bowls?
James P.

The Patriots drafted McCourty because they like his overall skill set, not just his ability to lay a hit. That's certainly one factor, but it's one of many. But to your larger point, yes, I'd like to see the Patriots get back to that imposing, physical style that they had on defense five or six years ago, and McCourty and Spikes could help them get there … eventually. However, opposing receivers have little to fear from Brandon Meriweather or Pat Chung at the moment. Hitting hard doesn't guarantee you'll make the tackle, as we've seen far too often from Meriweather. And Chung hasn't been on the field enough to strike fear in anyone's heart yet.
Erik Scalavino

After watching [the Boston Celtics'] Glen Davis get a concussion in game five of the Eastern Conference Finales, I started to wonder what ever happened to the NFL making a decision on the three-point stance? I realize it was mostly to talk about it, but I haven't heard it talked about since the Super Bowl (maybe sooner?). What do you think about this decision? Is the three-point stance that dangerous? Also when does this years training camp start? Thanks for the great work!*Don C. *

You're right, Commissioner Goodell brought up the idea around the Super Bowl this past season, but it hasn't really been a front-burner issue. I think the main question it raises is, how much would a ban help prevent concussions? If there's empirical evidence to suggest it would make a significant difference on the positive side, then I'd be in favor of it. The secondary question that raises is, how would a ban affect the game itself? Goodell seems to think, based on his comments at the Super Bowl, that it wouldn't change much, as many linemen already have chosen to forgo the three-point stance on most plays. He might be right. My main concern, though, is how it would help the players in terms of safety. I'm not sure anyone has a sufficient answer yet.
Erik Scalavino

If there is indeed an NFL lockout for the 2011 season, will the players still get paid? Also, I have read that regardless of a lockout occurring, the draft will still take place. Will the draftees get contracts, and get paid, like they would in a normal year? Will teams still be forced to make normal cuts down to a 53-man roster like they usually would, and if so, how would they gauge which players they want to keep? Since a lockout is essentially a football strike, I'm assuming team workouts are unlikely to occur. However, if the players/coaches of a franchise wanted to, could they work out/practice together, or are there rules against this?
Clinton Kaneoka

No, the players would not get paid during a lockout. That's why they're being encouraged by the union and others in the corners to save as much as they can this year. Sounds silly on the surface, when you hear about how exorbitant their salaries are, but if they're used to living a certain lifestyle and haven't been prudent with their money heretofore, they'll need to pinch their pennies just like everyone else.

And no, there would be no transactions, other than the NFL Draft, during a lockout. That means no roster cut downs, no trades, no free agent signings … nothing. Draft picks would be made, but they wouldn't be signed until after a new labor agreement is reached. Team workouts? Forget about it. Yeah, sure, the players could get together if they wanted to, but I wouldn't expect that to be the case, other than what normally takes place in the offseason. You know, like how guys from the University of Miami hang out at the facility at Coral Gables and train – stuff like that. I could be wrong, but I just don't see players getting together, spending time away from their families, when they're not officially under contract and required to do so.

It's been a generation since the NFL last had a strike (1987), but this wouldn't be a strike, per se … it would be a full-blown work stoppage. Neither side would be actively preparing to put a product on the field (other than the draft) until their differences can be bridged. Let's just hope it doesn't get to that point.
Erik Scalavino

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