Hi, Erik. Huge fan of your journalistic work. Got a question about Tom [Brady], Jimmy G[aroppolo], and the future for them both. I'm as big a fan of TB12 as anyone, and personally believe he has a good 3-4 years [left], barring no serious injuries. So with that, if he stays as starter, which would be extremely likely, Garoppolo could be 27-28 coming to the time Brady calls it a day. When that does happen, can you see Garoppolo waiting and taking over for Brady, do you see us drafting another quarterback around that time or do you see us getting a veteran to come in and take over? Thanks, keep up the great content.Cameron, Derby (U.K.)
What are your thoughts on Jimmy G? [Is he] the future Brady?
Great questions to start us off, guys. This is undoubtedly a topic that will dominate offseason discussion for a while. We'll be addressing this in greater detail in the upcoming issue of PFW (on newsstands mid-March), but here's a quick preview.
Brady has been defying nature as he continues to play at a high level as he flirts with age 40. There was a time, prior to his past two seasons, when I and others thought we were beginning to notice a slight decline in his overall performance. Not a major drop-off, like Peyton Manning experienced at a similar point in his life, but a slight decline. The last two seasons have seen Brady rebound to the point that the club reportedly wanted to lock him up for another couple of seasons.
Brady and Garoppolo were originally supposed to reach the ends of their respective contracts at the same time – the conclusion of the 2017 season. Presumably, the team drafted Garoppolo so high (second round, 2014) with the expectation of his taking over the reins at or even before that time. Brady's sustained levels of success and performance have changed the equation now, it seems.
I doubt that, as a player, Garoppolo would want to stick around till the end of Brady's new deal, in hopes of being handed the baton. Garoppolo still has to prove that he is capable of being an NFL-quality starter, something he's unlikely to do if he's forced to sit behind Brady for several more seasons. He might eventually be shopped around in a trade, but for now, the Patriots have both players under contract. I say, keep it that way, and look for a legitimate third option this year.
Bill Belichick historically likes to keep just two QBs on his active roster, but in this unique situation, it might be more prudent to have three and let the two backups vie for the role. Or if one is already an established player, then it might be easier to part with Garoppolo at some point.
Essentially, what I'm telling you is that where it once seemed like Garoppolo was the future Patriots QB, I'm not so sure anymore.
Hey guys! I absolutely love your segments. I look forward to it every week… I am curious on some things: Since the Pats don't have a 1st round pick and their first pick won't even come into so late into the 2nd round, would they invest so much into the Combine and having visits from leading prospects? I know BB was never too much into the Combines but I'm always hearing about they have players visit and with it being this uneventful, what's their plan? Also, what would need to be done to get their pick back? Will they try to fight it, pending the court's rulings this week? I really believe if they tried to fight it, they would get it back.
I don't know where you've gotten this idea that Bill Belichick doesn't like the Combine. Year after year, it's one of the aspects of his job that he tells us he truly enjoys – evaluating draft-eligible players and seeing the whole pre-draft process to its culmination in April. Yes, he has issues with certain aspects of the Combine process, as do many of us, and he's given voice to those concerns, but he still invests a significant amount of time in the process.
Not having a first-round selection this year won't diminish Belichick's desire and certainly won't alter his staff's approach to their evaluations of all the prospects.
They have to treat this like any other draft, because while the Patriots may not currently own a first-round draft pick, that doesn't mean they won't have one when the draft opens in late April. Belichick loves to trade draft picks, so, it's almost a certainty that the number of picks New England owns will fluctuate several times between now and the end of the draft. They'll interview just as many players at the Combine as they always do, and probably host as many pre-draft visits as they're allowed, just like always.
As far as getting that first-round pick back in time for the draft, I wouldn't hold your breath, Danny. Even if the NFL's appeal is ultimately unsuccessful (and we won't know the answer to that this week; there's simply a hearing being held on Thursday), that decision has no direct bearing on the team's punishment in the DeflateGate fiasco. If the Patriots wanted to get that pick back, they would need, in all likelihood, to take the issue to court, and that process would almost certainly not happen quickly enough to resolve itself by the end of April.
Just accept that New England will be without a first-round pick this year. If a miracle occurs, then you'll be pleasantly surprised, of course, but the chances of that happening are virtually zero.
Hey guys, what would you think about the pats going out and getting a CB like Janoris Jenkins, Will Gay, or Sean Smith? I think all would fit nicely with Butler/McCourty. Also, on the offensive side I believe we should get one more WR either through free agency or trade. Kearse would be nice as a free agent, and through trade Keenan Allen would be an excellent addition. What do you think?
What are your thoughts on drawing in a stronger WR for New England's receiving core? Calvin Johnson?
My thoughts are that you guys should be scouring patriots.com more closely! For the past couple weeks, we've been posting Free Agency Previews for the positions we believe are New England's highest priorities this year. Cornerbacks and wide receivers have already been covered, so, do a quick search and you'll find an elaborate answer.
As far as Johnson is concerned, I'd love to see him in this offense, but realistically, he sounds like a man who's decided to call it a career. I don't expect to see Calvin Johnson in the NFL in 2016. If he changes his mind and a deal can be worked out for him here, wonderful, but I don't expect that to happen.
Hello, from the frozen wasteland that is North Dakota. Just wondered how you felt all the rookies did. [DT Malcom] Brown did well, as did [center David] Andrews but how about the rest of the class? Such as Justin Coleman, Jordan Richards, and some of the other later round and undrafted fellas. And if you see any potential talent and potential backup or starting roles from the late round picks like AJ Derby and Darryl Roberts?
Brown and Andrews were easily the rookies of the year defensively and offensively, respectively. While I expected Brown to perform at such a high level, given his first-round choice status, I was pleasantly surprised by Andrews, who earned his keep as an undrafted player. Staying on the o-line, the fourth-round selections, Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason, were starters from the time they got here, and while they struggled at times, overall, they met my expectations.
Coleman and Richards both showed some growth potential, particularly later in the season, and I'm looking forward to any year-two jumps they might make this summer.
Wide receiver/returner Chris Harper was another rookie who was forced into action perhaps sooner than expected. I thought he had a great camp and preseason, but his contributions – limited though they were – in the regular season were disappointing.
Long snapper Joe Cardona was an upgrade at that position and I fully expect him to be back in 2016.
Derby and Roberts, meanwhile, were placed on injured reserve way back in training camp and will essentially be rookies all over again if they make it to training camp. They didn't have a fair amount of time to make enough of an impression last summer, but with any luck, they'll get that chance this year.
BB is one of the best at finding players who fit a different position better than their current position. Do you see anyone in the draft or even FA that could change their current position to be a better fit in NE?
Really interesting mind exercise, but in reality, it's not likely to materialize. If you acquire a player in free agency, it's with the expectation that he's playing his natural position. Once you get him here and he shows position versatility – Mike Vrabel comes instantly to mind – then you experiment with him in practice and design some plays or packages for him. But I don't think Belichick is entering free agency with the idea of making drastic position changes. I'm sure there are plenty of athletes at this level who could switch positions and have success – Jamie Collins might make a great tight end, for instance – but frankly, we're just getting started with learning how good these college players are at their normal positions. We don't really have time to forecast where else they might line up. And really, aside from Julian Edelman (college QB-turned-pro WR), I can't think of many players who've come here and become better at a different position than the one in which they started their careers.
Love your work and love reading your articles. Do you see us cutting [veteran WR Aaron] Dobson? I may be wrong, but to me he seems to be a waste. He seems to be always hurt (especially at times when we really need him). We could find somebody better in the draft or through free agency.
I agree that Dobson's Patriots career has been star-crossed, and as a result, disappointing for a former second-round pick. However, I think he gets one more chance this summer. Will he seize that opportunity? Remains to be seen, but I wouldn't bet on it. The Patriots certainly can and probably will look to upgrade his position both through free agency and the draft.
I want to get your opinion on two former Saints players that I think would be good in New England: [guard] Jahri Evans and [WR] Marques Colston. Both are 32, so, they'd be cheap. Evans could be a good starter for a few years and could help mold the two young guards, and Colston could provide a big bodied deep threat receiver.
I don't know what your idea of "cheap" is, nor do I have any idea what Evans might want in terms of a contract. However, Evans would be an interesting signing and immediately compete for a starting guard spot. I'd be mildly surprised if the Patriots went after him, because I assume they want to continue cultivating the aforementioned Jackson and Mason tandem. But perhaps bringing in a Brian Waters-like veteran in Evans would be a way of doing that.
I think Colston's seen better days and there are younger, more skilled options on the market whom I'd prefer to add to this roster. As noted earlier, you can look for them in my Free Agency Preview on wide receivers here on patriots.com.
I was wondering about what you guys think about resigning LeGarrette Blount? I don't think he'd leave and go elsewhere. I don't think that it would cost much to retain him, but would keeping him for depth be a good thing? I was also wondering if you guys think it's likely we retain Collins, Hightower, and Jones after next season. This has been the best core we've had since Vrabel, Bruschi, McGinest, and I think our defense needs these 3 players for the future, I can't imagine us franchising then trading one of them next season for a first or a second round player, since they're all proven players and I feel like all 3 have so much to bring to our defense.
The Patriots can and should do better at running back than Blount. This is a good year for free agent backs, and I'd like to see New England pursue one of those players as opposed to bringing Blount back.
On the other hand, Collins and Hightower are not going anywhere. Jones, I'm not so sure about his future here. His stats are somewhat deceptive, and there's no better time than now to offer him in a trade. I don't know if the front office is interesting in taking that approach with Jones, but I would be stunned if we don't hear about contract extensions for Collins and Hightower in the very near future.
Is there a chance that Tyler Gaffney could be the answer at running back? Why else would they be holding on to him despite his injuries?
The Patriots obviously believe Gaffney has some talent, or else they wouldn't have snagged him off waivers when he was injured as a rookie with Carolina, and he's still around after going on IR last summer in training camp. Whether or not he's "the answer" at that position is impossible to say because he has hardly been on the field at all in his pro career. He's worth giving another shot to, however, which is what he'll most likely get this summer.