Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin. AP Photo.
I read that the Pats might be giving the Cardinals a second-round pick for Anquan Boldin. Do you think that's going to happen?Joel Muflam
I don't normally pay much attention to various rumors that circulate, especially when they pertain to the Patriots. Bill Belichick is almost maniacal about keeping information in house so anyone who claims to have knowledge about potential moves the team intends to make is either misinformed or being fed information from someone who wants said information to be known. On the surface, I'd trade a second-round pick for Boldin in a heartbeat. He's a big, physical, big-play receiver with good hands and toughness. He has been injury prone throughout his career but I'd love to see him opposite Moss and potentially replacing him down the road. The Patriots need some talent at wide receiver, especially with Wes Welker likely on the shelf for the start of the 2010 season. We'll see if it's a possibility but I'd be rather skeptical. In fact it doesn't even look like the Cardinals are interested in trading him at this point. But you never know.
From 2006-2008 the Patriots drafted 22 players and 14 are no longer on the team. This has caught up to the Pats and now they have several key players up for free agency. What in your opinion has been the issue with getting productive players out the draft? Is it scouting? If you look at the Colts success it is because they have drafted very well consistently.
Forgetting the draftees for this past year because it's too soon for results, my question is in regards to the upcoming draft. First a statement--It seems as though a person could count on one hand any and all players drafted by the Patriots in the prior 5 years that turned out to be standouts or even close to that status. Other teams like the Colts seem to excel with their picks. The question is who the heck are the scouts for the Pats? Are they that bad in what they do or does someone overrule their conclusions?Dana Sullenberry
I think you're right about the current situation. The team hasn't been able to adequately replace a lot of talented veterans because the drafts have been spotty at beat over the past few years. However, I do believe the 2009 draft will prove to be a good one. Darius Butler and Sebastian Vollmer in particular have caught my eye. I don't think there has been any changes in the draft process from the methods the team used earlier in the decade when it was consistently stocking the roster with talented young players. I just think drafting is hard. Indy has been very good at it but the Patriots were pretty good for a lot of years too. That's one reason why these two teams have been consistently near the top of the league over the past decade. Bottom line for the Patriots is they have to improve in this area. The drafts you mentioned yielded very little and needs to change immediately. I just don't think there's any secret formula to ensure success in that department. The Patriots have a lot of scouts and many of them have been with the team for a long time. So it's not like they've cut back on the resources the last few years and have failed. But things need to improve.
What exactly happened to James Sanders? I know I've heard earlier in the year they liked Brandon McGowan's hitting and playmaking ability, but at the same time Sanders seems like he was the most cerebral player we had back there post-Rodney Harrison. Also, how do you see RB working out?
Sanders was back in the starting lineup for the last month or so of the season and played well. For whatever reason Belichick decided McGowan was the better option early and while I thought he played well I thought the secondary lacked communication and often appeared out of place against quality passing teams. Evidently Belichick felt the same way because after back-to-back horrible games for the secondary against New Orleans and Miami he went back to Sanders and things improved. He's a steady, no frills player who isn't going to show up on many ESPN highlight packages but generally will be where he's supposed to be and does the right thing. He's also lauded in the Patriots locker room for his leadership ability, another quality I felt was severely lacking in Foxborough last season. As for running back, it will be interesting to see how Belichick attacks that situation this year. Personally I'd like to end the Laurence Maroney era and start anew. Having Kevin Faulk and Fred Taylor return is fine, but I'd like to see a young back taken fairly early (maybe the last of the three second-rounders). I don't think running back is as important a piece to the puzzle in the league as it used to be so I don't want to invest a tremendous amount of resources to find one. But I do believe it's time to move on from Maroney. Unfortunately I'm not sure that's going to happen.
I'm an American serviceman serving overseas, and I rely almost exclusively on the net for my Patriots fix. I love you column and thank you for keeping us all current. Being in an "Internet challenged" part of the world, I sometimes miss hot news due to Internet interruptions, so forgive me if I'm asking you to re-chew old soup. My question is this: Are we going to finally unload Maroney this offseason, or are we going to have to suffer through another season of injury and disappointment? Sorry, Laurence, I loved you at first, but you just haven't lived up to your price tag.
Internet or no Internet I'm completely on board with your thinking -- right down to the early promise Maroney showed. He was injury prone earlier in his career and this year when given the chance to carry the load when the other back were hurt he simply didn't do the job. He was the only Patriots running back to average less than 4 yards per carry, which is pretty much the minimum number for a good back, and he added fumble problems to the equation in the second half of the season. I think there is some talent there but at this point I'd like to see the Patriots move and go in a different direction, as they like to say. As I said above, I don't think that's going to happen but, and I know this is hard to believe, I've been wrong before.
I'm just wondering what you think about Ty Law. Do you think he'll be back for another season? Also is there any chance he'll want to return to retire as a Patriot?Ryan Kalriess
I'll start by saying I am one of the true leaders of the Ty Law fan club. I loved watching the guy play and I loved talking to him even more. He always played hard and competed like crazy. But I think enough's enough. I didn't see much of him in Denver last year but the little I did catch he looked slow and maybe even a bit out of shape. It's time for him to call it a career and there's not shame in that. He had a terrific run as one of the best corners of his time. He's a borderline Hall of Fame candidate and a definite Patriots Hall of Famer. If you're talking about him signing as a Patriot to retire then I guess I could see that. I'm not a huge fan of that stuff and I hope he doesn't do it. But I look forward to the day when he gets into the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon – I'll definitely be there for that speech.
We have great stars in Moss and Welker, everybody is talking about big name wideouts like Boldin and [Brandon] Marshall but when you look back the team did great with little known wideouts like Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney etc in 2007. We did great with Donte' Stallworth and Gaffney so I my question is should we go after the big name or should we get two complementary wideouts like in 2007 and past years and who would you think the patriots would pick up?Paul Carrell
I'm not sure I agree with your categorization of some of the Patriots past wideouts. Branch was a second-round pick back in 2002. Donte Stallworth was the 13th overall pick in the 2002 draft. Gaffney, although signed by the Patriots as a street free agent, also was a second-round pick. I think your underselling how good those players were – especially Branch and Stallworth. They were much more than complementary players. Gaffney is more in that role but obviously proved to be more than that this year. I'll admit that took me by surprise as I thought he was more in the mold you're talking about. My point is if you expect to provide some help for Moss and Welker (once he's healthy) then you're going to have to put some talent around them. Asking college quarterbacks and special teams players to fill the No. 3 role is not the way to go. I'd take Boldin in the role and feel pretty confident that the offense can regain something closer to the 2007 form. I want no part of Marshall but that doesn't have anything to do with talent. He's been in too much trouble for my liking, and much of it has been on the field, which to me is a sign that the player is difficult to coach. Mike Shanahan had problems with him and now Josh McDaniels is having problems. Let someone else deal with him. I think the Patriots need to target a receiver early in the draft – definitely with one of the four early picks. Targeting free agents will be a little more difficult in the uncapped environment but there will be a few restricted guys worth pursuing. But it's tough to bank on getting one.
The Patriots need help on defense and a little on offense. Offensive could be fixed easily if you brought up Terence Nunn. He is a great player. Trade Jarvis Green and Adulius Thomas. Trade the Raiders picks for a higher pick in this year's draft and take LB, DE, CB or C.J. Spiller.
Wow, where to start? Nunn is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they signed him off the Patriots practice squad last November. So he won't likely be in the plans, and as an aside he's nowhere near a great player. Green will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year in March and therefore can't be traded by the Patriots. Thomas is still here but has very little trade value at this point. He has two years left on his contract at pretty heft salaries. He's also been rumored to be on the way out in New England. So why would a team give anything up for a player who makes decent money who will likely be available on the open market anyway? As for your Raiders trade -- I don't see that happening either. The Patriots specifically wanted that early first-round pick in the 2011 because there's a chance that year's draft will have a rookie wage scale and therefore make those top picks more affordable for teams. I don't see the Patriots dealing such a large commodity.
Do you think the Pats have a chance at drafting Jordan Shipley if they don't grab Anquan Boldin? I would love to have both of them but that would be to good to be true. I think you grab Boldin in his prime because he has the skills and smarts the Patriots like in their wide receivers.
If the choice is between the two there's no sense of even discussing it. Boldin is light years better in every manner – size, speed, strength, versatility, toughness and obviously experience. Shipley is a nice college slot receiver who should be in the draft mix around the second or third round. I'm not sure his game translates to the NFL but as a slot guy in a league where that position is becoming more prominent he'll get a chance. I'm not overly high on him, however.
Why don't injured players (like Shawn Crable) spend a lot of time at the Pats facility? Do they sit in on meetings, watch film, just go to practice, stand on the sidelines during games and associate with their teammates and coaches? They are making big money and I would do everything I could to be a team player and show a can do attitude.
What makes you think they don't do most of the things you're talking about. Aside from standing on the sidelines at practice and games, they do everything to said. Injured players generally rehab in Foxborough, attend meetings and watch film if that's what they're supposed to do and spend pretty much all of their time at the team facility. I'm not sure where you got the impression that injured players leave team. There are times when players choose to have surgery and rehab on their own, but just as an example last year, Crable and Tyrone McKenzie were in the locker room quite often during the course of the season. Belichick doesn't have injured players on the sideline too often, but other than that the guys on injured reserve are usually around.
With Julius Peppers now available what would you rather the Patriots do? Sign Vince Wilfork to a big contract or improve the pass rush by signing JP? Can only have one - what is your choice? What do we need the most? Stop the run or rush the passer?Mark O.C.
Well I have no idea how available Peppers is going to be since the new league year is still a month away, but if I have to make a choice that one's not really hard for me – take the pass rusher. Wilfork is a terrific nose tackle and deserves his contract but I believe finding a quality edge pass rusher is much more difficult – and important to a team – than finding a run stuffing nose tackle. Peppers would obviously cost a lot more money to acquire than Wilfork would to re-sign so perhaps your question isn't comparing apples to apples. But if things are relatively equal between the two I see Peppers as the much more valuable player.
Since Joey Porter appears to want out of Miami, do you think the Patriots should try trading for him? He had nine sacks in 12 games, and he was only in rotation with the young guys. I know the Patriots should want to get younger through the draft but I think Porter clearly has a lot of football left in him and will be able to provide a huge boost to the pass rush. He could play opposite Tully Banta-Cain, meaning that opposing offenses would need to worry about a pass rush from both sides.Sam Frankel
No thanks. And just to correct you slightly, the Dolphins want Porter out of Miami -- badly. I don't care what Porter says now (or ever for that matter), the Dolphins don't want him. He's past his prime and his mouth isn't worth the average production he'd provide. I'm not saying he wasn't once an impact player but that's no longer the case. And I do agree with you that the Patriots need to get younger. That's why I also wouldn't be interested in picking up another potential ex-Dolphin, Jason Taylor. Find some new blood and move on.
Would an uncapped year help or hurt the Patriots? What do you think they might have to do if it does go uncapped? Thanks a lot and let's hope the Pats make the right moves.Chris C.
It almost certainly will be an uncapped year but answering that question is highly subjective. I really don't think the uncapped situation helps or hurts anybody. There will be potential for a couple of teams with deep pockets (Redskins, Cowboys) to make some splashes but I honestly don't think that will be the case. The Patriots will likely maintain the business philosophies they've espoused for years regardless of whether or not there is a cap to worry about. There are some unique elements the uncapped year will provide but they don't really provide any advantages for any team over the competition since the cap is expected to return once the CBA is settled, therefore penalizing teams that spend recklessly. (Look for some extensive details on the uncapped year coming up in the next issue of Patriots Football Weekly, which is due to hit newsstands next week).
Since Julius Peppers decided to leave Carolina and if we sign him our salary cap won't be affected and he will help us on the d-line because of his speed so should the Pats sign them?
Again, there's a month between now and when Peppers could possibly become a free agent so assuming he's definitely out of Carolina at this point is premature. I know he's saying he wants out but the team could franchise him again, or even agree to give him a long-term deal. You never know. But even if he is available the only way you could sign him without cap implications would be if it were a one-year deal. The cap is going to return in 2011 (assuming the CBA is agreed upon and there's no lockout). So if the Patriots give him a six-year deal there will be cap implications moving forward beyond 2010. And any bonus money he gets would be prorated over the life of the deal. So you can't just sign a player in the uncapped year and be done with it forever. Now I'd love to have Peppers on this defense and I believe there's a chance the Patriots will look into it. But it won't be as easy as you think.
Living now in Gainesville, Fla., I catch as much Patriots info as I can but still can't get a feel for some things. All the talk is about a DE or OLB in the draft. Having seen a lot of Tyrone McKenzie in college I am familiar with the skills. He seemed to be turning some heads until the injury last year. Can you provide and update and give me some insight? Do you see him fitting in the defense next year?
We've been getting a lot of emails like this about McKenzie and I must say they are all quite premature. McKenzie was not turning heads last year, but that had nothing to do with his ability. Unfortunately, McKenzie got hurt during rookie mini-camp and never got the chance to turn any heads. He missed the entire year – including spring camps, mini-camp, training camp and obviously the regular season. So basically he's starting 2010 from square one as a rookie. I'm impressed with his credentials and his character based on the limited dealings we've had with him, but projecting him onto the defense at this point is impossible. I think he'll contend for an inside linebacker spot, but until we actually see him on the field in pads, which hasn't happened yet, there's no way to know for sure.