Do you think [Wes] Welker will ever come back?
Yes, I do. I guarantee it, in fact! I'll even go so far as to specify when that will be… This coming November 24, when he and his Denver Broncos are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium.
How many years do you think Tom Brady has left in his hall of fame career?
Tough call, Nick. Every time No. 12 is asked this, he says, "Ten more years," but at some point (which we've already passed, in my estimation), that will be unrealistic. I can't see Brady hanging on longer than his current contract, which runs through 2017, at which time he'll be 40 years old. My guess is he'll call it a career, having played it entirely as a Patriot.
What do you think of Shane Vereen, and do you think he will have a much larger role this season? I thought he was excellent when we got to see him last season and in the play-offs.*
I like Vereen a lot, and think he'll play a significant role in the Patriots offense this season. He'll assume the Kevin Faulk/Danny Woodhead role as a pass-catching back with the ability to carry the football when necessary. I'm excited to see if he can make the most of his opportunities this summer in training camp and during the preseason.
With all of Tom Brady's targets either injured or no longer with the team it would seem Julian Edelman is poised to take a bigger role in the offense if he can avoid injury. Edelman seem to be putting together a breakout season last year before his foot issue, where does he stand in his rehab and where does he fit in the offense this season?
Is Julian Edelman still in the mix for WR reps, or rotating him around the field? He is a great player so I hope he can stay fit!!
Sure, he'll compete for a job at receiver. And let's not forget, he is one of the leading punt return men in the NFL, which is where he may stand the best chance of keeping his spot on the roster. It's by no means guaranteed to him, though, given how long it took New England to re-sign him, and only for one year, at that. Edelman's biggest competition, however, is himself. He needs, as you alluded to, to stay healthy if he has any hope of remaining a Patriot in 2013.
Could you tell us about Ryan Mallett a little? Is he our next quarterback after Brady? He's barely played... What is your opinion of him?
I don't think Mallett is the heir apparent to Brady, no. What little I've seen of him in game situations (pre- and regular-season) has not been impressive. He has some skills, but is far too inconsistent for my liking. He makes decent throws at times, but his decision-making is suspect and he doesn't have the most accurate arm. As I indicated earlier, Brady is signed through 2017. That gives New England at least four years to find a suitable replacement.
Who has the best chance at starting [at safety], Tavon Wilson or Adrian Wilson?
I haven't been at all impressed with the younger Wilson (Tavon) since he came to Foxborough last season. Maybe he makes a miraculous Year-2 leap in productivity this summer/fall, but absent that, I'll take my chances with the multi-time Pro Bowl veteran, Adrian. Of all the defenders this spring, none of whom were in full pads, Adrian Wilson found a way to stand out among the rest with his size and instinctive play. I'm anxious to see him suit up and fly around at full speed.
With the TE position being what it is, anyway you see the Pats trading a low draft pick for Benjamin Watson. He knows the system and I think he would have had amazing numbers if he had played next to Gronk instead of Daniel Graham. I know he's older but he plays the way Hernandez does. Not a great blocker but a strong receiver. Just curious and my 10 year old son begged me to ask. Thanks!*
*Big Chris and Little Chris Gagne, Orlando
Sorry to disappoint you, Little Chris, but no, I don't see Watson becoming a Patriot again. Despite all the uncertainty at tight end, I think New England will go with what they've got at the moment. It's possible they'll add another veteran free agent to the mix (possibly a Dallas Clark-type player), but I don't expect to foresee any trades for tight end depth.