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Ask PFW: Roster rumblings

The Pats are one injury away from starting Ted Karras, a 6th-round second year player with only 100 NFL snaps. The next man up after Karras might be a practice squad type, like Jamil Douglas or James Ferentz. This makes the interior OL the most shallow position on the roster, even more so than TE (which doesn't always have to start two), LB, or DE. What options might BB consider for adding more depth? Mangold and Orlando Franklin are the most recognizable names available, but both likely want starter's money and playing time (which may not be guaranteed here). Are there any trade candidates for depth, or perhaps other FAs that stand out? Matt W.

Given New England's stellar track record in developing offensive line talent, I don't think you're giving Bill Belichick and Dante Scarnecchia enough credit here. What you said about the inexperience is accurate, of course, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the depth is inferior or incapable of performing at the NFL level. Before you go searching for greener grass, I suggest giving the current roster its fair share of opportunities to prove itself. Erik Scalavino

Hey guys, I am a long-time reader, first-time participator with a question. With so many wide receivers, how many of them will make the roster?Jason Lewis

Based on historical reference, I'd guess around 6. Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Mitchell, and Chris Hogan are locks, in my estimation, leaving plenty of competition for the final two spots. I'm anxious to see how it shakes out this summer. Erik Scalavino

I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding the D-line. Players have left (Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long) and [Alan] Branch is aging (but playing well as I understand it). On the other hand, there is the [Kony] Ealy acquisition and the ascension of [Trey] Flowers and [Malcom] Brown.  Hopefully Derek Rivers works out. Do you think the D-line will be as good as last year, worse, or about the same? Thanks. Greg Beane

The Patriots are certainly younger at the position, and I'd like to think the moves they've made will make New England better. Until I actually see them performing together on the field, however, I'll reserve judgment. Erik Scalavino

I was impressed with Logan Ryan last year. I was not surprised that he grabbed for the money, but in light of his performance, I don't understand why BB did give him an extension. Then there is Eric Rowe. He seemed to cover well but not like Ryan. Why didn't the Patriots get rid of Rowe (though I think he did a good job) and use the savings to retain Ryan? I know they have struggled in the CB position in recent years, but Ryan was going somewhere. Thanks for the response. Mark Washburn

Ryan had a solid season last year, for sure. Perhaps his best overall as a pro. I'm not surprised, either, by his decision to sign elsewhere. It's impossible to know exactly why Belichick makes any particular personnel decision, but I'm guessing he felt he could upgrade the position, and I believe he has with the addition of Stephon Gilmore and the retention of Malcolm Butler. Rowe, remember, joined the Patriots at the tail end of the preseason last year, struggled with an injury or two, and still managed to contribute. He deserves the benefit of the doubt now that he'll have a full offseason in New England's system. This year's secondary has the potential to be the best combined unit the Patriots have had in a while. Erik Scalavino

Is it possible that everyone is taking TB12 too literally when he says that he wants to play into his mid-40s? What better way to increase the focus and value on his brand then to introduce uncertainty, speculation, and lots of media attention on the Patriots succession plan. Had TB not said anything, far less attention would be paid to the entire topic. Has it occurred to anyone that this may be intentional on the part of TB?

One other point, when TB says that he wants to play into his mid-40s, everyone assumes it's as the starter. What if 2018 is the bridge year and TB's last as the starter and 2019 the shift goes to Jimmy G and Brady inherits the moniker of "mentor QB" instead backup QB.  He still gets to play football, be on the team, have an important role, throw the ball around, but save his body from lasting damage and "play" into his mid-40s in a newly defined role that is something more than backup QB. I also think switching uniforms would be potentially detrimental to the TB12 brand and for that reason he wouldn't do it.  Switching uniforms and potentially looking like a washed up QB would be the worst scenario - think Joe Montana and the Chiefs. Alan Bernstein

From what I know of Brady, I imagine he wants to play as long as he can play well, both for himself and his business interests that tie into the personal fitness lifestyle he now leads. I do believe he is now pondering his post-football life more than ever, though. And his upcoming trip to China to promote his brand and product line certainly attests to that. 

Meanwhile, he's one of the most competitive players I've ever known, and to imagine his taking a back seat to any other QB is incomprehensible. Perhaps he'll finish his career elsewhere (I doubt it), but even if he does, like Montana, he'll still be considered one of the best, if not THE best QB ever. And he'll always be remembered as a Patriot, regardless of which uniform is the last he dons. Erik Scalavino

With [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, shouldn't voters take up the candidacy of Robert Kraft? I would think that Mr. Kraft has a compelling case for the HOF. Stephen Libby

He sure does, and they sure will, sooner or later. Count on it. Erik Scalavino

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