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Ask PFW: Sanders, the Combine and CBA uncertainty

Like most years, this week's NFL Scouting Combine is the first major event of the offseason. Unlike other years, though, that offseason could come to a sharp halt if the owners and players can't reach an agreement on a new CBA between now and March 4.

With the recent releases of safeties Bob Sanders and O.J Atogwe. Do you see the Patriots signing either one of them to add depth? I think Bob Sanders would be the best fit. He has a reckless style and since he has been injured in the last three seasons he should be fairly cheap. And I think if we just had some sub packages to throw him into and not have him out there as an every down player that might limit his injuries.
Zack Ross

I just saw that Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe were just released from their teams. Now I'm a little more excited about Sanders. Due to the fact that he was released, what are the chances that the Pats could sign him to a 1-year deal? I believe he still has game left in him. And he knows Peyton Manning's style and techniques. Atogwe might be too rich for our blood, but why wouldn't Sanders want to play for a defense that's on the rise and a solid organization like the New England Patriots?
David Guerra

So Bob Sanders just got released, is he too much of an injury risk for the money he's probably going to ask for or could the Patriots potentially sign him? I remember fearing him from the safety spot when he was healthy and won Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 or around then. I'd like to see him suit up for BB's defense.Salim Najjar

Hey, great job guys. I just read that Bob Sanders has been released by the Colts and was wondering if his price tag would make him a realistic pick up for the Patriots to add a veteran presence into our backfield. I'm not looking at him to play every game... doubt he will be healthy enough to, but he could at least be a good mentor for Meriweather and Chung. Especially at least to show Meriweather what angles to take on tackles. Thanks.
Jamie Thomas

I know we love to speculate on the possibility of players joining the Patriots, especially former star players, when they hit the open market. I just don't see either Sanders or Atogwe as a fit for the Patriots right now. First, I think they'll both be looking for a little money. Neither is likely to play for the minimum. Second, I don't see the huge need. Though the safety spot lacks an elite talent like Sanders presents when he's healthy, the group has pretty good overall depth. Ideally, Patrick Chung will develop into the top-of-the-depth-chart playmaker at the position. He clearly has the attitude for that, and in some ways (no disrespect intended) plays like a poor man's Sanders at this point. It's also clear that Sanders just can't stay healthy with the way he plays. He's barely played a half season, total, over the last three seasons. You just can't count on him. It's too bad, because he's an elite talent, but he's not going to have the type of overall career that a man with his skills could have. And in my mind Atogwe is a good but not elite player. On the cheap, I'd take him. But he's probably going to get some pretty good money from someone. For now I'd be OK allowing Chung to develop, seeing James Sanders as the veteran presence and keeping Meriweather, Page and the rest to fill out the depth for the Patriots at safety.
Andy Hart

Hi Andy. It's Joe from Burlington, Iowa. I want to convince you to take a good look at DE Ryan Kerrigan. I think he has everything the Patriots need in a pass rusher/edge setter. He's listed at 6'4", 263 lbs. We'll know for sure at the Combine if he meets BB's 6'4"/4.6 requirement. I know you might be turned off by the "high motor" phrase, but at Purdue, he was (your favorite phrase) a "playmaker". Nobody in big time college football has more career forced fumbles, and he led the country in tackles for loss this year. These are big numbers without a great player on the other side of the line and when opposing teams could scheme to stop him. I hope you get lots of tape on him, because you'll see that even when he is double teamed or the offense is running to the other side, he consistently finds a way to get in the backfield and disrupt the play. He made a living against Ohio State and Michigan, with two of the more elusive QBs in the country (Pryor and Robinson). I do realize he played DE on a 4-3 defense. But my amateur scouting opinion is he can play on the line at the pro level. He comes from the same program that produced Anthony Spencer and Shaun Phillips. As well as our very own Rob Ninkovich and Rosevelt Colvin, except Kerrigan is better than those guys. Have a great time in Indy. I can't wait to hear what you think on PFW in Progress.Joe Arcidiacono

I've by no means closed the door on Kerrigan. He showed up a little lighter at the Senior Bowl, likely intent on showing he can make the switch to outside linebacker. It'll be interesting to see how he tests in Indy. From what I saw on the skills challenge on ESPN Kerrigan is a good but not elite athlete. You have to love his motor and production, I can't deny that. But my only question is whether he gets overdrafted. Give him to me in the second round and he's probably a great pick. Middle of the first round? Not so sure. He has a lot of factors going for him in the process, as you mentioned. It'll be important for him to run well at the Combine and I'll keep an open mind as I proceed with my evaluation of him. (And just so you know, PFW's Erik Scalavino goes to the Combine, too!)
Andy Hart

What do you think is the smarter move? Cameron Jordan at 17, and Anthony Costanzo at 28? Or trading 28 and 17 to move into top 10 to take Von Miller?
D. Spence

That's a great question. I haven't completed my assessment of Miller, but generally speaking I'm all for Belichick doing what he needs to do to get an elite talent on the edge of the defense. If he believes that Miller is that guy, then I'm all for him going for it. I understand the needs that would be addressed at DE and T in your other scenario. Right now, though, I think the Patriots really need some elite playmakers on defense. McCourty looks like he could be one of those guys. Adding a pass rusher in that mold could make the unit infinitely better. I'm also not sold on taking a 3-4 DE that high. (Do you really want to use the pick you got in the Richard Seymour trade on a guy who you hope can be as good as Seymour?) I'm not sure it's the biggest need, assuming that Ty Warren is coming back from hip surgery at full health. With Warren, Vince Wilfork and maybe Gerard Warren on the line, I think you can win. I can't say the same about the depth chart at outside linebacker at this point. So to make a long answer short, go up and get the best available edge rusher.
Andy Hart

OK, my question is why do I keep hearing Pats fans asking about trading people like Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Ty Warren? I know some have been injured or seem to have decreased production or whatever but these guys are veterans and know the Patriot way and are good guys to have in the locker room. I can understand Wes Welker had decreased production but Tom Brady was also spreading the ball around more and he is also the Pats best wideout and is probably the center of defensive backs attention. In my opinion I wouldn't want to see these guys go and anyone who does isn't a true Patriots fan.
Jacob Templar

I don't think any Patriots fan is really interested in trading Brady. Not sure where that comes from, other than the occasional cuckoo email. The other two, I think are a bit different. I think some people are looking at Welker heading into the last year of his current contract and wondering what his future is in New England and what that cost might be. As for Warren, after missing a year to injury, his value is probably not all that fresh in people's minds. The bottom line is that I'd be surprised to see any of the three you mentioned traded. But I like the fact that fans aren't afraid to throw around trade ideas at this time of year. It's what the offseason is for in all sports. Except for those trades involving Brady. I, too, think those are borderline psychotic. How often has a reigning MVP in any sport been traded? I haven't done the research, just wondering aloud to end this answer.
Andy Hart

Hello, I sent a message a little while back regarding a hat my son had signed by Patrick Chung. When Patrick played for the U of O my son went to a game and had a hat signed by him, it got a little something on it, and I tried to clean the spot and totally ruined the autograph. At the time, my boy was probably 6, and at the present time, he is 9. I was wondering if I mailed the hat that was signed, and a new hat, if Patrick Chung would autograph it. We are big fans! I appreciate your time for reading this. Thank you.Jeremy Joseph

I can't answer this question with any guarantee, either way. I will tell you that if there were a few players that I think you'd have a good chance of getting an autographed hat back from, Chung would be on the list. He seems to be a very down to earth guy. I've enjoyed working with him the last two years, and have a ton of respect for the way he handled the botched fake punt in the playoff loss to the Jets. He didn't have to stand up and face the music – plenty of players over the years have run and hid in similar spots – but Chung put it all on his shoulders. That may not seem like a big deal, but I think it tells what kind of person he is. Given the back story and type of guy that Chung is, I'd send him the hat and take your chances. Again, while I can't guarantee you'll get anything back – even the stuff you send – my guess is that you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Andy Hart

I wanted to ask you guys for your honest opinion. Do you think we should trade for Lamar Woodley? Woodley is a good linebacker. We need another linebacker besides Mayo. I would like us to have Stewart Bradley. He's good at stopping the run. Do you think we sign Bradley? Thanks PFW.
Justin Almeida

I would not trade for Woodley, for a few reasons. After trading for him you'd likely have to hand him a huge contract. That's a lot to give up for one guy, a guy who's not even the top playmaker on his current defense. You could argue that Pittsburgh's pecking order on defense has James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and even Lawrence Timmons ahead of Woodley in terms of playmakers. Is Woodley good enough to be "The Guy" on his own with another team? (Adalius Thomas, anyone?) I'm a little dubious. Obviously Belichick was a little dubious about Woodley when he chose to pass over him in the draft despite his teams ongoing needs for a pass rusher. As for Bradley, I've always liked his game dating back to when he entered the league. I think he's a good all-around linebacker. Not sure what kind of coin he's going to command on the open market – whenever there is an actual open market – but I wouldn't mind seeing Bradley in a Patriots uniform. But do I think it's likely? No.
Andy Hart

Hi guys! Is this the year we finally pull the trigger and move up into the top 10. I vote yes. I know we like to drop back quite a bit and get value and more picks and I have no beef with the results lately. However, this year we have a big big big chip and it's that first pick in the second round. we can probably extract or extort a 2012 #1 and a 2011#3 from some desperate team on the front end of day two so why not package #28 and #17 and try to get a deal done with let's say the 49ers @#7 and grab an impact defender. If the right guy is there for the pickings maybe this is the year we should move up rather than out. What say you?
Zima Man

Zima Man, that would be zomething different indeed! As I said above, I'm all for it. Obviously any such deal would be a draft-day effort and under the assumption that the guy Belichick wants is still available. People seem to think that there aren't edge players available to fit Belichick's specific standards. But people used to think he wouldn't take either an inside linebacker or guard in the first round. When he did, he came away with All-Pros named Jerod Mayo and Logan Mankins. Here's to hoping a similarly perfect fit is available at outside linebacker in 2011 and that Belichick has what it takes to go get him. My fingers are crossed.
Andy Hart

Do you think the Packers would trade us Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk for our 7th round pick, a lobster roll, and few hot weenies? I think this would be an excellent deal. I mean come on people. Some of your trade dreams are, well, delusional. Thanks.Ned Marc

You might need to throw in a bag of balls, but we can probably get it done. And can you imagine…with Tom Brady, Matthews and Hawk the Patriots would certainly have the inside shot as the team with the "best" hair. Notice I put best in quotes.
Andy Hart

If a player doesn't like being given the franchise tag, could they simply retire from football (ex. for one day) and then decide to "come out of retirement" and start fresh wherever they wanted?
George Newell

No. The team would hold his rights for perpetuity, until he fulfilled the requirements of the deal, was released by the team or his rights were traded. Nice try, though.
Andy Hart

Great job guys and thanks for helping keep the offseason moving. I would love to see Marcell Dareus in a Pats uniform next year, I think that it would be worth trading up for him as he would kill 2 birds with one stone in our D-line and a pass-rusher... obviously OLB would still be needed, but I think that Cunningham will improve next year and showed glimpses of pass rush ability... I know Dareus played in a 3-4 system in college, but my question is what would need to be given up to trade high enough to land him and are there any promising OLBs in the second round and could we afford to gamble on letting Banta-Cain and Cunningham get most of the snaps at OLB again next year? Thanks.
John James

Using the old draft pick trade value chart, the Patriots could get up to the No. 6 overall pick by trading the 17th and 28th selections. (According to the well circulated and generally well regarded draft value chart the 17th pick is worth 950 points and the 28th spot is worth 660 points. Together they total 1,610 points, enough to get you to the No. 6 pick in the draft. Another 200 points in pick value -- equal to the 78th pick in the draft -- would get you as high as the No. 4 pick, while it takes 3,000 points to get to the No. 1 overall pick. By trading their first three picks – 17, 28 and 33 – the Patriots could get to the No. 3 pick.)

I don't think that, for the Patriots needs, trading up so high to get a defensive lineman like Dareus would be worth it. There will also clearly be some OLB types available at the end of the first round and into the second, as it's a decent position in this year's draft, and I'd expect the Patriots to add a player at the spot sometime in the first couple rounds. I don't think the team can go into a new season with Banta-Cain, Cunningham and Ninkovich as the primary players on the edge. In that scenario Cunningham would have to have a Year 2 jump that would be Lawrence Taylor jealous. I'm not ready to say that's going to happen, so the team simply needs to add more depth and playmaking ability at that spot.
Andy Hart

Hey guys this is my first time sending a question. I'm from Utah and there isn't a lot of Pats fans out here so you guys are a god send and for sure the best source for Pats news. I love the show [PFW in Progress on, Tues. and Thurs. noon-2 p.m.], keep up the good work. Since the season is over, I've been looking at mock drafts all over the web like most Pats fans to see who everyone thinks the Pats will take with their 2 first-round picks. I know one of our biggest needs is a pass rusher and I've been looking at the top prospects, a lot of which are DEs that are projected to convert to a 3-4 OLB. I heard that you guys are going to the Combine and are asking for people to send a prospect that they want you guys to check out. I was wondering if you guys would look at DE Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue. I've been looking at scouting reports on him and highlight videos and I really like this guy's football motor and pass rushing skills. He's got a mean bull rush and knack for finding the quarterback. A lot of scouts are saying that he's not great in space and are unsure if he can do the coverage duties of OLB. I think after watching video of his play and his character in interviews, I really think this guy would be a perfect fit as a Patriot and a guy that BB would like to have at OLB for his size, strength and pass rush skills. I'd list more prospects, but I'm sure you'll get more emails about other guys. Anyways, thanks for having a great show and I hope the CBA is resolved soon so we can talk about a great 2011 season.
Phil Monday

Glad we can make your Tuesdays and Thursdays a little more enjoyable, Phil Monday. In terms of Kerrigan, as I said earlier, I'll be keeping a close eye on him throughout the pre-draft process. I'm not as worried about his work in space/coverage. If he can set the edge against the run and be a productive pass rusher, that's what I'm looking for. How often did Banta-Cain and Cunningham drop into coverage last season and how often did it lead to a game-changing play – for either team? My point is that we'd all love to have players that can do everything, but that's not always realistic. I've seen the Patriots work to get Shawne Merriman and James Harrison into coverage over the years, oftentimes with pretty good success. But I've also seen both those guys make a lot of money and hurt a lot of teams with their pass rush abilities. So while we all hold out hope the team can get the perfect player for the many needs of the outside linebacker spot in Belichick's scheme, at this point I'm just looking for a guy who can get to the quarterback on a regular basis. I mean Belichick put Kyle Arrington at outside linebacker for a couple weeks last fall. You can't tell me that guys like Kerrigan and other not-quite-perfect prospects couldn't do a better job than a cornerback at the position. Can you?
Andy Hart

I just watched highlights along with two or three random games on the all of the potential picks at 17 and Robert Quinn is the best player with the most instinctual skills when rushing the passer. I say, bring him in, work him out, interview him, see where his head is at. You know, the whole nine yards. We need a good pass-rusher... a lot of up side to this one... he was that "thing" we all look for in a pass rusher. Just look at him you'll know it when you see it... he's our guy.
Jonathan James

You're preaching to the choir here, Jonathan. I've been championing Quinn since last summer, before he was suspended for the season at UNC. That may actually have helped the Patriots chances of landing him, since it probably hurt his stock a bit. Now, the big question will be how well he works out at the Combine. He's a great athlete, and if he shows that in Indy it could push him back up the boards and make him a top-10 pick or better. Now, some people will question his consistency and production against suspect opposition over his relatively short career. Some will probably make him out to be Vernon Gholston 2.0. And maybe that's what he is. But maybe he's also Julius Peppers 2.0. I'm ready to take the chance. I haven't completed all my research but I've been wanting the Patriots to draft Quinn (I call him Quinny – isn't that cute!) since last summer. Why stop with my campaign now? Let's all chant it -- For a draft day win, vote for Quinn!
Andy Hart

Hey PFW, love what you buys do. I was wondering if you could find that old tape of BB making PB&J. I tried to find it but no dice. Help would be appreciated.
Shawn Sandhu

Here is the link to a version of that video on YouTube, although there is a short lead-in and exit added to the original filming. The original video is from his days as the head coach of the Browns in the early 1990s.

Andy Hart

Hey guys, what are your thoughts on potentially trading the #17 and #33 picks in the draft to get up to the #6 or #7 slots to potentially draft a CB like Amukamara or a DE like Robert Quinn? It seems like these guys have real start potential, especially Amukamara, would it be worth it to make this move? Thanks.Mike Anderson

As I've expressed throughout this mailbag, I'm more than open to trading up. But I would not do it for a cornerback, almost regardless of his potential. It's just not that huge a need right now as McCourty himself looks like he could be a pretty special player and the Patriots should be getting back a solid veteran in Leigh Bodden. Trade up for my boy Quinny? Sure.
Andy Hart

Paul, c'mon man. Arrington is a good corner? My question is are "you blind"? Or maybe "what games were you watching." He was a joke last year. He made one killer play ( the INT runback)and got burned REPEATEDLY pretty much all year other than that play. He was the most glaring weakness on our defense. Monty Beisel thinks that this guy was a failure for the Pats. Thank God we will be getting Bodden back this year. Hey, I love this forum , but I just couldn't let that one go by.
Francis Brown

Lighten up, Francis. (It's great to use that one when it's actually appropriate.) I think Paul was simply giving Arrington the benefit of the doubt as a second-year undrafted player thrown to the top of the depth chart. He clearly had his mistakes, warts and shortcomings at times throughout the year. But he can get better, right? And ideally he'll be a third or fourth corner, behind guys like McCourty and Bodden. You know how we look to look at the positive side of things here at PFW, and I think that's what Paul was doing. We all know he's a big softy, with an emphasis on the soft part.
Andy Hart

Hi guys, why are all the Europe games always in London? There is a huge fan base in Germany, the NFL Europe was some kind of NFL Germany in the last couple years of its existence. At that time I was in Frankfurt, Germany, we had an average of about 30,000 people watching the games, the teams outside Germany were averaging about 10,000 to 15,000 before they moved to Germany. Do you guys think there is a chance to have a game in Germany in the future?
Daniel Kriegel

While this question is way above my PFW pay grade, I'll give it a shot. I do think there is a chance that the NFL will play in other European countries in the future. There has already been talk of a game in Ireland, and you are right that Germany was the heart of NFL Europe over the league's final couple seasons. So clearly there is a hunger for American football in the country. Some of this global marketing and expansion is probably tied the current CBA negotiations and how owners hope to grow the game globally in the future – and how they're going to pay for that investment in spreading the world's greatest sport. But sit tight, if I were a betting man I'd expect the NFL to stage a game in Germany sometime in the not-too-distant future. But that's just my guess.
Andy Hart

I am wondering if the participants of the CBA talks realize that the NFL is now a worldwide sport. There are over 50 senior clubs in the United Kingdom and over 60 in our universities. The game has a big audience in this country so if there is no football this year, then enthusiasm will wane and the game in this country may well suffer. I think that it is about time that someone kidnapped the main participants, locked them in a room and not let them out until the agreement is signed, sealed and delivered. What do you think of this idea?
Bob Sears

Another question proving the power and popularity of the NFL, Patriots and Ask PFW. I can't support criminal activity like kidnapping, but I can post your email to hope that your message is received by the powers that be. My work here is done.
Andy Hart

What's the point? You didn't answer my last question.
Bill Tullish

There is no point. See, I answered your question this time. And as I say to my 3-year-old son, you want some cheese with that whine?
Andy Hart

What is the difference between a Steeler OLB and a Patriots OLB? I know you say that the Patriots OLBs have to set the edge to protect against the run, but Pittsburgh annually ranks at or near the top in run support. I think Belichick's criteria for an OLB who can cover, set the edge, and rush the passer is hard to come by. Especially from college DEs who don't have much experience covering. Is there any chance the Patriots will pick up Lamarr Woodley and Nnamdi Asomugha? Money or not, the fact is the Patriots have come very close to making/winning the Super Bowl since their last win in '04, and always seem to be one or two playmakers short.Johnny W.

Steelers linebackers are similar to the Patriots, but Pittsburgh personnel man Kevin Colbert (the most underrated GM type in the business, by the way) seems to be a little more open in his standards. With the team utilizing a more aggressive, blitzing scheme he seems to worry a bit less about size and takes guys that make plays with a more aggressive style moving forward. I know he's also talked about shorter-than-ideal OLBs being able to get underneath taller offensive tackles in pass rush battles. But most teams looking for 3-4 OLBs look for converted college defensive ends, just with a varying degree of focus on size, length, speed, quickness and other attributes.

As for Woodley and Asomugha, I wouldn't go pre-ordering your Pats jerseys yet. Though's Michael Lombardi (a former Belichick staffer with the Browns, by the way) listed the Patriots as a possible fit for the All-Pro corner, I just don't see it. It would take huge money and the team has already invested in McCourty and Bodden. And as the Steelers franchise player, it's unlikely that Woodley will be on the move. If he is, it will take not only a trade but a big contract to get it done. I don't see that happening in New England.
Andy Hart

If someone like Ryan Mallett slips late into the second round, what are the chances we draft him with pick #60? We drafted Kevin O'Connell in the 3rd round in 2008, and Mallett seems a much better quarterback than he. Is Brian Hoyer THE GUY? If not, would someone like Mallett be? At this point in your pre-draft study, which of the 'top' QBs do you think would fit our system? (Let me say that I DON'T think we need to pull Brady. I hope that he has many years ahead of him leading our team; but backups are only one hit away from being starters, as Pats fans well know. So picking up a quality QB in the draft is always a justifiable move, no matter who your starter is.Philip Antin

One of the advantages of having six picks in the top three rounds as a team that's drafted a dozen players in each of the last two Aprils and is coming off a 14-win season is that there are almost endless options heading into the draft. All teams have needs to fill, but there might be a greater need to be sure to fill those in a lot of other cities. So if a player at a not-so-necessary position falls into Belichick's lap during the draft, he can pounce on him. Quarterback would certainly fall into that category. Just because the team failed with the O'Connell pick doesn't mean it should stop trying to find a Brady successor in the middle or higher rounds. Brady is under contract for the next four years and wants to play well beyond that. But there are no guarantees that he will. Mallett is interesting in that he has a big frame and a good arm. I'm not sure he has the experience reading defenses and touch/timing on all his throws, though, for the New England offense. I'm not yet ready to target the QB-in-waiting that I'd most like to see as a Patriot, but I will say I'm not in love with any of the quarterbacks atop the draft for those teams looking to find a franchise guy early in the first round. I don't see a Sam Bradford in the bunch at this point, but maybe I'll change my opinion as the process continues.
Andy Hart

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