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Ask PFW: The people have spoken

Lots of draft talk and requests for humor dominate this edition of the Ask PFW mailbag.

The readers have spoken ... and we have listened. After eliminating the immature humor from our responses a couple of weeks ago, we received thousands (OK, maybe it was more like several) requests to bring the humor back. I tried not to go overboard so as not to offend anyone. Please accept my apologies for any of my sophomoric responses ... they were meant to liven up the answers a bit and nothing more.

Will The Patriots try to trade Ty Law? He is asking for too much money.

Travis Simpson
Waltham, Vt.

I don't think the Patriots will trade Law. They have the room under the cap to keep him now without doing a thing. Obviously the team would like to restructure his deal so the cap numbers will decrease, but if that doesn't happen I would expect the Patriots to keep one of their best players.
Paul Perillo

What was the Patriots longest pass in the 2002 season compared to the longest in 2003, I assume was the 82-yarder against Miami.
Trumbull, Conn.

The Patriots longest pass play this season was indeed the 82-yard touchdown from Tom Brady to Troy Brown in Miami on Oct. 19. Last year, the longest play was a 49-yard completion from Brady to Deion Branch in Week Two at the Jets. Oh, and say hi to Chris Drury for me.
Paul Perillo

Is it just me or is anyone else leery about Colvin's return? It looks like he was injured on a rather "soft" play and injuries to the hip are never a good thing. Do you think Colvin will come back and be 100 percent effective? IMO as an LB he's a IR waiting to happen.
Bill C.
San Diego, Calif.

PP thinks RC's HI (hip injuries for those of you not into abbreviations) is certainly worth worrying about, but until he returns to the field it's hard to tell if he'll be headed back to IR, IMO. HI's are difficult to gauge. My concern is Colvin is a speed OLB who relies on quickness. If the injury causes him to lose a step in any way, it could have an adverse effect on the remainder of his career. But all indications thus far are that he's on track to return and we'll to wait for TC (training camp) to know for sure.

Paul Perillo

I know you have been answering a lot of questions about potential RBs, but what are your thoughts about Duce Staley or Correll Buckhalter? Do you think either one would fit well with the Pats?

Mike Tackson
Thompson, Conn.

Personally I'm not a big fan of either of those backs. Philly did a great job using the committee approach but I'd rather go after a true No. 1 back – whether that's in the draft or through free agency. Staley is a solid veteran but injuries have slowed him down considerably. If the Patriots want someone like him, they might as well keep Antowain Smith. Buckhalter to me is also similar to Smith and wouldn't be worth pursuing.
Paul Perillo

I was wondering if any time in Tom Brady's life was he ever drafted by any MLB teams, and what is the longest field goal kicked ever?

Mark B.
Springfield, Mass.

Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos coming out of high school in 1995. He was an 18th-round pick as a catcher but obviously decided to stick with football and attended Michigan. The longest field goal in NFL history was 63 yards, which was accomplished twice. New Orleans' Tom Dempsey kicked the first one on Nov. 8, 1970, against Detroit while Denver's Jason Elam matched it on Oct. 25, 1998, against Jacksonville.
Paul Perillo

I realize that subsequent years of NFL contracts are not guaranteed, effectively freeing management financially to retain or discard individual players from season to season. What I don't get is why these pseudo-multi-year deals are often backloaded with huge potential increases for their later years that the teams often choose not to pay due to the negative impact that would have on the cap. For example, if teams can get certain guys for $2 million in 2004, how do such players force management to pretend they are going to pay $5 million in 2008 (or else set them free)? What is the player leverage in this management-favored league that forces teams to give otherwise valuable players increases so large that the teams frequently must opt (years later) not to keep and pay certain players, even though they would still like them on the team viewed in terms of playing skills alone? I'm thinking the answer must have some connection to the only guaranteed money there is in such contracts, i.e. the signing bonuses.

Jim Taff
Boston, Mass.

That's a long question Jim but since you've touched on a topic that I've long argued about, I kept it in. Just make sure you don't tell my boss, Fred Kirsch, because he's tired of listening to me. The NFL has far and away the best system in place of all the major sports. Players don't normally get guaranteed contracts and that allows teams to give big money deals with the safety of being able to get out of the contract if the player doesn't play well enough to earn the money. The problem with that, however, is the scenario you described. When a player does live up to the big-time money, teams still get rid of them many times because of the cap. Unfortunately it is one of the necessary evils that makes the NFL the most balanced and competitive league in sports. But it doesn't mean the system is fair to the players.

Jim, being from Boston, you no doubt have heard a lot about the baseball player's union this winter in regards to the A-Rod deal. The baseball union is one of the strongest in the country. The football player's association is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. It wields virtually no power. In exchange for free agency, the players basically forfeited all other rights by allowing the owners to discard them whenever they feel necessary with almost no consequences. You're right about the signing bonus. That is virtually the only way players get any guaranteed money and that oftentimes influences the player to sign a deal. The players understand when they sign those backloaded deals that more than likely they will never see that big money portion at the end. But if they get the signing bonus up front, they accept the terms anyway.

When Anthony Pleasant signed with the Patriots before the 2001 season, he signed a three-year deal. When I spoke with him for a story in PFW, I asked him how many years. He said "two," then corrected himself by saying "three, but really it's two because I won't be around to see that last year's money." Sure enough, two years go by and Pleasant was due something like $3 million for 2003. The Patriots released him and re-signed him for the minimum. The Patriots knew if they wanted him for the full three years they could still have him, and Pleasant knew if he wanted to keep playing for three years he'd have to sign a new deal. It ain't perfect, but it beats the alternatives on display in the NBA, NHL and MLB.
Paul Perillo

Are the Pats looking to draft a young linebacker in the early rounds on the draft? The current ones are really good, but there getting a little old.

Moosup, Conn.

Wassup in Moosup, Nathan? I agree about the linebacker situation. It's time to get a little younger, especially for the inside guys. Bruschi, Johnson and Phifer are solid, but Belichick will likely look to draft one or two so he can develop some depth. Most of the backup linebackers are strictly special teams guys like Larry Izzo and Don Davis. There are a couple of young outside guys like Tully Banta-Cain and Matt Chatham to fill in, but inside linebacker should be a priority.
Paul Perillo

I was watching the Dan Marino SportsCentury and I found out that the Patriots chose Tony Eason over Dan Marino. Did you feel that pain in your chest as well?

Jason Tolman
Frankfurt, Ill.

Geez Jason, that was more than 20 years ago. You gotta let it go, man. And you're from Illinois dissin' Champagne Tony like that. But since you asked … yes I do feel a pain in the chest whenever I watch Marino firing lasers all over the field in those ESPN Classic clips and think the Patriots could have had him. But Marino was the sixth and final quarterback taken in that 1983 draft so the Patriots weren't alone. I can live with John Elway going ahead of Dan, and maybe even Jim Kelly … but Todd Blackledge, Ken O'Brien and Eason??? No way.
Paul Perillo

Just for the record, I did not mind the occasional touch of sophomoric humor in the answers. What I find more offensive is the repetitive nature of many of the questions asked by fans in this forum. Fans, please check the regular website for player information and before asking a question. That being said (please forgive the venting) what is Pepper's experience with defensive line play? How is it that many times NFL assistants coach in so many different positions? As a HS coach I know there is a huge difference between coaching, say, offensive line and defensive back?

Bridgewater, Mass.

If sophomoric humor is what you want, boy did you come to the right place. First, we want to thank Marc for providing us with our very own public service announcement by encouraging readers to read the previous questions before asking the same ones that have already been answered. (Mike Cloud anyone??). As long as Marc brought the topic up, no, the NFL hasn't released the dates and times for the schedule yet (we'll post them as soon as we get them), we don't know who the Patriots will draft with any of their picks and we don't think Corey Dillon will be a good fit in the Patriots backfield.

As for your question, Belichick said that Pepper has worked a lot with the pass rush in nickel situations so he has experience coaching the defensive linemen and should make the transition pretty easily. To answer the second part of your question, I think young coaches don't have the luxury of waiting for the opening of their choice to arise and are forced to take whatever is offered. Belichick likes to get his young coaching assistants involved with special teams because that is the best way to work with all the positions and all the players. That gives them plenty of experience quickly.
Paul Perillo

I am a huge Patriots fan north of the border. Did the Patriots receive any compensation when Buffalo signed Lawyer Milloy last year? I am also hoping the Patriots figure out a way to bring back Ty Law. Is there any possibility that the team will simply pay Law his contracted amount for 2004-05?

Marty Cormier
Chatham, Ont.

The Patriots don't get anything for losing Lawyer Milloy. When a team releases a player, it doesn't get any compensation in return. Teams can get compensation based on the cumulative loss of free agents over a period of time. The NFL hands out compensatory picks, which start in the third round and run through the seventh. Teams get extra picks based on their free agent losses from the previous season.
Paul Perillo

I realize that in general the Patriots are pretty covert with their injury information. However, I was wondering if you guys had any information on Tom Brady's shoulder other than that laughably obscure statement released last week. Also, I wouldn't mind seeing you guys pick up the humor.

Worcester, Mass.

Based on your question, Chris, it looks like you've brought back the humor yourself. Saying the Patriots are covert with their injury information is like saying girls like Tom Brady. Since we found out about the injury by reading about it in the Palm Beach society pages in the first place, it's doubtful anyone has any more information than what has already been published. But as always, we'll keep looking.
Paul Perillo

Do you think anyone in the Patriots organization is thinking about moving Ty Law to safety? Law is not getting any younger, he knows the system better than all of our DBs, and the salary cap on safety is lower which will help if the Pats want to restructure his contract. Plus, Wilson is free to rotate in at safety and CB.

Louisville, Ky.

Wai, why would you want to move Ty to safety? He was the best cornerback in football last season and that's a more difficult position to play than safety. Plus, you can't just switch a player's position for the sole purpose of lowering franchise salary number. If Law was franchised (which wouldn't happen since he has two years remaining on his contract, plus the deadline has already passed) and the team moved him to safety in 2004, he would still get paid the average of the top five cornerbacks since that was his position at the time he was franchised.
Paul Perillo

In response to the person who wrote about the equation question and the lack of humor, I recently wrote PFW and commented on their use of humor in reference to a fans question, I rescind to you guys and apologize if I questioned your humor if not its use. You guys do a tough job well and it is little more filling with a little spice, so spice it up to your hearts content!!! Oh yeah, I think that receiver from USC with his ho hum attitude (just like Brady) would be a lethal addition and they could still probably get Perry.

W. Wilson
Poland Spring, Maine

Like we said before, we're just trying to have a little fun and none of our lame attempts at humor are meant to hurt anyone. We apologize in advance if that's the case. I agree about the receiver from USC (Mike Williams). I think he's destined to be a star in this league with his size and athleticism. The Trojans had a pretty lethal offense last year and he was a big part of it. I'm not sure if the Patriots would be able to trade up to get him while remaining in position to draft Chris Perry though. I would assume in they would have to deal the first-round picks to move up, so Perry would have to be there late midway through the second round and I don't think he will be.
Paul Perillo

My question is about a lesser star that nobody seems to look at. Mike Cloud – 27 attempts, 5 touchdowns, avg. of 4.4 yards, and longest was a 42 yarder. It seems that he was underutilized the entire season, and from the time he did play, came through for them over and over. I also feel he is the most talented of the three RBs. He scored more touchdowns than Faulk and Smith combined on just his 27 attempts, while compared to Smith and Faulk's over 200 attempts. That stat I feel goes unnoticed, and I don't understand why Cloud isn't looked at as being a potential keeper. Can you shed any light on the Mike Cloud situation for us fans?

Brandon Guimond
Kingsport, Tenn.

The Cloud Caper resurfaces!!! Never was there so much attention paid to a guy who played so little. I happen to like Cloud and think he deserved to play more than he did in 2003. But that doesn't mean he's a Priest Holmes waiting to happen either. He did have a terrific debut against Tennessee, as you stated. But if you break down his numbers a little further, you'd see his average was a bit deceiving. If you take out the 42-yard run (which I understand counts) he had 26 carries for just 76 yards (2.9-yard average). He had five touchdowns and that is impressive given his limited carries. I think Cloud is a serviceable backup who could return as insurance if the Patriots draft their lead back of the future come April.
Paul Perillo

I have a question about last years No. 1 draft pick DT Ty Warren. Is he going to be able to start this year in the Pats 3-4 defense? He had 35 Tackles last year in a very limited role. If he is what we were looking for and worth the top pick money last year, we should have a dominant defensive front with an average secondary if Poole and Wilson return. Bottom line: How does our defense look for next year?

Fort Myers, Fla.

Average secondary??? Wow, maybe all that Red Sox watching down there in Fort Myers has given you a pessimistic outlook, Russell. The Patriots secondary was excellent in 2003, with the exception of the Super Bowl against the Panthers (admittedly a rather big exception). Ty Warren filled in well when Ted Washington was out of the lineup and his playing time increased. He didn't set the world on fire and I don't believe he's the type of player that will bowl you over with the sacks and statistics. But I do think he will be a contributor because he works hard and is willing to learn. As long as he keeps that attitude the Patriots front will have a spot for him. Overall, I'd say the Patriots defense is in pretty good shape, especially if Rosevelt Colvin can return close to full strength.
Paul Perillo

First I would like to say you guys are doing a great job. I am a Jersey guy that owns a Dish just so I can watch my Patriots every Sunday. My question is this. Some years ago I attended the Draft Day Party and met Vinatieri, Slade, Milloy and much of the old O-line. It was a highlight for me the whole experience. Are they ever going to do that again? If so, how do I get tickets?

Tony Rafferty
Florence, Fla.

There will definitely be a draft day party held on Saturday, April 24. The details have not yet been finalized so be sure to check with for ticket information and other details.
Paul Perillo

Since you requested E-mails to bring back the humor, here is one. I understand the straight-forward nature currently used, but I always enjoyed the humor, specifically directed toward repetitive questions that were answered for 4 weeks in a row. (Or the simply really stupid ones). Please put some entertainment back in with the information.

Paul Gosselin
Windham, N.H.

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about, Goose!
Paul Perillo

I was wondering if the Pats were thinking about going for Mike Anderson of the Broncos. Only a couple years ago, he was a former 1,000-yard rusher and he can play fullback. Also if Ty Law is not here next season (which I pray he is), what's your take on Sean Taylor from Miami and is he Patriots material? Also what round do you think he might be taken?

The Greek God
Swampscott, Mass.

Hey Zeus, I'm not sure Mike Anderson would be a good fit in New England. He's been more of a fullback the last couple of seasons even though he has shown the ability to run the ball with success in the past. He had just 70 carries last year and I don't think the Patriots view him as an every-down back at this point. He'll also turn 31 at the start of the 2004 season despite entering just his fourth season. Sean Taylor is one of the true blue-chip players in this draft according to most of the experts. I'd expect him to be a top 10 pick. He's a safety in the mold of Dallas' Roy Williams, a hard-hitter who can make plays against both the run and the pass. I'm sure the Patriots would love him but unless they orchestrate a trade he won't be available.
Paul Perillo

The following is the Andy Hart-dropped-the-ball-last-week-and-left-me-to-pick-up-his-mess portion of the mailbag:

Thank you for answering my questions regarding the need for a punter. Unfortunately you missed one part of the question that was most important to the evaluation of Tupa ... did he ever hold for Vinatieri? I've been told that Vinatieri likes the ball held in a strange way (on a tilt as opposed to straight up). If that is the case then finding a capable replacement for Walter in this respect could be just as important as replacing his punting duties.

Stephen Hartigan
Tyngsboro, Mass.

Since Andy got confused with your complex, multi-part question Stephen, I'm here to tell you that Tupa indeed was Adam's original holder during his time as a Patriot. Tupa held for Vinatieri from 1996-98 (Adam's first three years in the NFL). There was a report that indicated Vinatieri liked to have the ball tilted forward slightly instead for back, but given Tupa's experience with the kicker that shouldn't be a major obstacle should the Patriots decide to sign the veteran punter. Tupa also punted for Belichick from 1994-95 during their days in Cleveland.
Paul Perillo

Who holds the NFL record for rushing TDs by a quarterback in a season and career and how many?

Jack Williams
Middleboro, Mass.

Another that Andy left out last week … although he did at least look up the information and passed it along.
Steve Young has the most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 43 while the Patriots Steve Grogan holds the single season record with 12 in 1976.
Paul Perillo

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