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Ask PFW: Samuel's situation

Enough is enough. Give Asante a contract! I hate to say it, but Deion Branch was dispensable. Without him, they made an AFC Championship game, and the Patriots now have arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL. With Moss and Stallworth in the mix, Branch is a distant memory. But good receivers are a lot more abundant than elite corners. The rest of the Patriot corners are nothing spectacular, and we need Asante Samuel to give us that extra boost, particularly in the playoffs.
Ben Potts

Will someone please tell Asante Samuel that one good, breakout season doesn't warrant an $80 million contract? If he sincerely believes he's worth a lucrative deal after one really great season, then I hope he holds out on his couch for the rest of his career. The people who got the big deals are year-in, year-out shut-down corners. If Asante can do this for two more years, he'll get his big deal.Nathan F.

I led off with these two posts because they pretty much summed up the pros and cons of the Asante Samuel situation. I don't think this situation is as simple as either Ben or Nathan suggest. First, as far as a I know Samuel hasn't demanded an $80 million contract, and even if he did it certainly wouldn't be structured in a way that it would cost the Patriots anywhere near that much, just like San Francisco won't be handing Nate Clements anywhere near that much. But Samuel is in line to get a lucrative deal if not for the franchise tag situation he finds himself in. He's not a one-year wonder but rather has developed nicely over the past four years to the point where he's positioned himself as one of the better cover men in the league. He's not at the Champ Bailey level but he's a solid player who is in the prime of his career. However, that doesn't mean the Patriots should just fork over the cash. The franchise tag is a valuable tool for the teams and the Patriots are well within their rights to use it. It's not their fault the players didn't try harder to have it negotiated out of the latest CBA. So I can understand both sides of this argument – Samuel feels he's reached free agency and would like a long-term extension without having to worry about a serious injury preventing him from caching in while the Patriots want to retain his services at an affordable rate. I actually think both sides have valid points, but the Patriots have more leverage because if Samuel decides to sit out they have the talent to withstand his absence. This situation is shaping up to be the story of camp.
Paul Perillo

Would the Patriots consider trading away one of our many, many WRs to one of the teams in need of one in exchange for a young inside linebacker? It seems silly to hang on to guys like Caldwell or Gaffney who will either be cut or sit around at the bottom of the depth chart next year and become unrestricted after the season. Would the team ever consider trading a free agent signing like Kelley Washington? Could Chad Jackson be a possibility too?
Robbie Mitchnick

Trading a wide receiver actually would make a ton of sense, but I'm not sure how many teams would be willing to part with a young quality linebacker. Either way, the Patriots have a plethora of options at wideout and dealing one during camp would not be out of the realm of possibility. A team like Tennessee, which made legitimate runs at both Kelley Washington and Donte' Stallworth, would certainly be interested in one of the guys the Patriots plan on casting aside. My guess is Belichick will be looking to deal one of them toward the end of camp once he has a better idea of how his depth chart is shaping up.
Paul Perillo

I am sure you have heard, a source told the media this past week that Michael Vick was a "heavyweight" in the dog fighting world. This is very disconcerting, and even if Michael Vick did not personally engage in dog fighting he let it happen on his property. What do you think the NFL's response to this whole situation should be?Mike Keating

Given the way new commissioner Roger Goodell has handled discipline thus far, I'd say Vick could be in some trouble. Depending on his involvement, at least a four-game suspension would be fair in my mind. I'd be surprise, and disappointed, of Goodell chose to let Vick off the hook on this one but until we know all the facts it's hard to make a judgment at this point.
Paul Perillo

My question is in reference to the Troy Brown situation. Being that we currently have 11 WR on the team, of which we will probably only keep 5 or 6. That with the fact that Belichick already pretty much said Troy has a job if he wants it what are the chances the Pats put him on the roster as a CB instead of a receiver?James Magrath

A lot of people have suggested this and I just don't see that happening. First of all, Troy Brown is not a very good defensive back. In an emergency he has handled himself very well in that department in the past, but that's only as a receiver playing defensive back. In my opinion he's not worth keeping around solely as a defensive back. He did show last year that he has something left in the tank as a receiver and could be valuable depth, but I understand your point about the crowded depth chart. Keep in mind that injuries have traditionally hit both the receiver position and the secondary very hard over the last few years and some well-placed injuries could change the WR landscape in a hurry. Let's watch this one play out before we decided there's no room for Troy Brown at receiver.
Paul Perillo

I'm curious about comments made in a recent podcast about watching Randy Moss on a recent Patriots Today video, mostly because I agree that he looked much slower than I imagined him (wasn't that Chad Scott staying with him at one point)? Am I nuts to be preoccupied this early, or is this a legitimate concern?Chris W.

I don't think Moss' performance on the field at this time of year is worth much worry. I do agree that he hasn't been lightning quick thus far and at times he hasn't appeared to be going at 100 percent. But at this stage of the offseason there are several players that are more focused on learning the system and getting the playbook straight. Moss has showed flashes of his wonderful skills and we'll have to wait until the season starts to see if those are manifested on the field on a more consistent basis. At this point I'm not getting preoccupied with Moss' every move.
Paul Perillo

My question is about kickoff returns next year. I thought Maroney's contributions on kickoffs last year were a huge reason we remained very competitive despite lots of positional question marks. I'm worried that with the signing of average return guy Welker (among others) that Belichick may be looking to protect his number one back by not having him return kicks. What's your hunch on this?
Kenyon Gagne

I'm surprised you didn't mention Ellis Hobbs in this discussion. He was explosive late in the year on returns and almost won the Indy game with a couple of long runs in the AFC title game. I thought he was even better than Maroney, who admittedly was excellent himself before he got injured. My guess is Welker will get some opportunities but I agree with you that I'd rather have one of these more dangerous options on a consistent basis. For what it's worth, Welker, Hobbs, Willie Andrews, Bam Childress, Kevin Faulk and Jonathan Smith rotated as kick returners during the opening practice of mini-camp on Tuesday.
Paul Perillo

How come on this Patriots Website Randy Moss isn't listed on the roster? And, will he be 18 when he plays with the Patriots?Randy Barrett

Randy Moss is listed on the team's official roster but has yet to be assigned a number. During the offseason thus far he's been wearing the No. 6, which he can't wear during the regular season due to NFL rules that prohibit receivers from wearing single digit numbers. Moss wants to wear either 18 (Raiders), 84 (Vikings) or 88 (his college number at Marshall) but all three are currently taken by Stallworth, Watson and Kyle Brady, respectively. Perhaps he's trying to "persuade" one of those players into giving up the number, but as of yet he's been unsuccessful.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering who the Pats are going to keep and who you believe they will cut? Is it possible for them to keep all of: Welker, Stallworth, Moss, Caldwell, Washington, Gaffney, Jackson, Childress and Kight? From what I have heard, it seems like Caldwell is the odd man out. Why is this? Didn't he and Brady have great chemistry last year, why ruin that?Scott Macone

No it's not possible for the team to carry nine wide receivers. Childress and Kight would be hard-pressed to make the team, and Jackson's knee injury could put at least the start of the season in jeopardy. In terms of the remaining wideouts (and don't forget that Belichick continues to say Troy Brown will have a role this year), Caldwell, Gaffney and Washington, in my opinion, will be fighting for the last spot(s). Just because Caldwell had a decent season last year doesn't mean he's a better option than Moss, Stallworth or Welker. Strictly in terms of talent, in my view, Gaffney and Caldwell fall behind those guys. But as I said earlier, injuries can change the situation in a hurry and make room for extra bodies.
Paul Perillo

I'm sure you get this a lot, but with the current Hall of Fame balloting going on, it still strikes me funny that Steve Grogan has not made it to the NFL Hall of Fame. I'm sure Steve's stats should qualify him, is there a reason he hasn't yet?Dan LeBeau

There aren't many New Englanders that are bigger Steve Grogan fans than me, but he is not worthy of Hall consideration. Grogan was and is a beloved figure here but his statistics simply don't stack up. He threw 182 touchdowns and 208 interceptions in his career. His career passer rating was just 69.6. We all remember the toughness he showed throughout his days as the Patriots quarterback and all the big wins, but his career as a whole isn't really on par with the Joe Montanas, Dan Marinos and John Elways of the world.
Paul Perillo

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