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Patriots Replay Fri May 29 | 12:00 AM - 11:58 PM

Ask PFW: Who's in the running, Butler's situation and much more

Is there a reason we're not hearing anything but the conspicuous sound of crickets when it comes to LeGarrette Blount? Rex Burkhead seems like a nice addition, but they still need a power back. Why not show Blount some love and bring him back? Is his performance this past year so easily replaceable?
David Halpern

So I guess you're not buying into the Adrian Peterson visit? Obviously if the Patriots wind up signing Peterson there wouldn't be any room left for Blount. But there's still time otherwise and I wouldn't rule out another return. My guess is Bill Belichick is waiting to see what's available in the draft and if he's able to find a rookie who can be used with Burkhead and Dion Lewis then Blount won't likely return. If the draft doesn't yield a back, then I'd look for Blount at that point as he would likely still be available. In terms of your final question, I do believe Blount's performance last year is replaceable. Perhaps the 18 touchdowns would be split among a committee but in terms of overall team production I wouldn't expect the numbers to change much.
Paul Perillo

Perhaps I am in minority on this, but I do not want to see either Blount of Peterson on this team next year, but a powerful rookie who has time to develop given that Patriots have a stable of RBs already and I wonder if the Patriots can find such player with one of their mid-round picks?
Jack Chase

Jack must have read my previous post before sending this one in. Clearly I'm with you in this situation as I don' feel Blount is anything special and I honestly want no part of Peterson. His off-field story is bad enough but his play also hasn't been anything too special as of late. He's suffered through injuries, has a problem with ball security and has never been a factor in the passing game as a receiver or blocker. As they say on Shark Tank, "and for those reasons, I'm out." Find a young back in the draft and let him be part of a committee with Burkhead and Lewis while James White continues to do his thing as a receiver. Time to move on.
Paul Perillo

For years Bill Belichick was stockpiling draft picks, and the league began to value them as gold. Lately, while their cars are flying through the draft hype, he seems to be switching his gear in reverse and trading away picks for players. This is of course a very simplistic and overstated summary with many factors left unsaid, still I wonder if this a shift in strategy or year-to-year adaptation to factors such as position needs, cap space, performance odds?
Cam Lagrange

I don't believe it's been any shift in philosophy as I feel Belichick's philosophy has been to explore any avenue necessary to help the team. This particular year presented some opportunities to make trades that allowed the Patriots to acquire players Belichick believes will help. That may not be the case next year and the Patriots could very well wind up with extra picks … it all depends on how things play out. Belichick doesn't have just one preferred way of doing things; he will do whatever he believes is best at any given time.
Paul Perillo

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I was reading some stuff with Josh Gordon coming back and I know he had trouble in the past, but New England has given second chances to players, also I know we're stacked at WR but injuries can happen, knock on wood. So I was thinking do you think New England would be willing to try to send a later rounder for him?
TallM

Gordon has a lot of issues that I'm not sure the Patriots want to get involved with at this point. He's obviously extremely talented and would be a dynamic presence on the outside – even with the Patriots deep corps of wideouts. I'm just not sure Gordon is worth investing in at this point given that he's still dealing with his pending reinstatement so he may not even wind up being available at all. In terms of value, yes I would give up a later-round pick to get a talented player like Gordon because that represents great value. But Gordon may not be worth the headaches at this point.
Paul Perillo

I'm confused. Recently, Deion Sanders has said that everyone knew that the Colts were perpetually stealing signals. Tony Dungy admitted that they did but that they were not cheating when they did so, so I'm confused as to what the issue was exactly concerning Spygate? I realize this is many years after the fact, but I really would like some clarification.
Jack Peters

There is nothing illegal about stealing signals. The problem the Patriots had was they were caught taping the opponent's signals from the sideline, which is illegal. Had the Patriots simply tried to watch the signals and tried to steal them there wouldn't have been a problem. But they opted to tape from the sideline, which is prohibited a led to the punishment. I'm not familiar with what Dungy and the Colts did but my guess is they weren't taping from the sideline.
Paul Perillo

Greetings from the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The draft is coming, as a consequence again I realize that all the evaluations of players that show us the experts in draft are based on the same cliches as always, people who are committed only to praise the physical. I would like to know, if possible, what were your thoughts (on the whole PFW team) about players before the draft (Brady, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower).
Lizandro Gutierrez

Obviously evaluating college kids for the draft is not an easy task. Even the professional scouts are not perfect in this regard so criticizing reporters for failing to identify the best prospects is a little unfair. Tom Brady will go down as the greatest quarterback of all time and every team passed on him six times before the Patriots used a compensation pick to get him at the end of the sixth round. Clearly it's not easy. I felt Brady had a lot of strong characteristics at the time but worried about his overall arm strength and lack of footspeed. Needless to say these were foolish assessments but I'm not going to pretend I knew he was going to be great because I didn't. Gronkowski was off the charts athletically and most everyone agreed with that when he entered the draft. The only reason he went in the second round was because of his back surgery that caused him to miss his final college season at Arizona. Otherwise he surely would have gone in the first round. McCourty went pretty much where most experts believed he would. I thought he had some toughness to his game and was a sure tackler. I loved Hightower coming out of Alabama. Great combination of size, speed and athleticism and very versatile. Branch wasn't really sure about. I thought he was productive but worried about his size.
Paul Perillo

With Dion Jordan getting cut by Miami, what are your thoughts on possibly the Patriots taking a chance on him? Having a track record of taking discarded first-round picks that never reached their potential seems like Coach BB's M.O. Probably another low money/low risk signing even though we have kind of restocked with Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy.
Gary Abrams

I agree with your overall premise here with regard to Jordan. Adding a former No. 3 overall pick for what would probably be very little is the kind of move Belichick generally looks to make. The fact that Jordan is an edge rusher – a position the Patriots could use some additional bodies at – makes it even more intriguing. The problem here is Jordan's history with PEDs. Beyond the possibilities of another suspension, it's possible that Jordan is the product of repeated PED use and in fact may not have been in position to be selected that high without them. These are distinct possibilities with a guy who has been a huge disappointment at this stage of his career.
Paul Perillo

Hi guys. I've enjoyed the shows during free agency. Keep it up. Just wondering if it's only me looking at players Bill is working out some late first-round players. Butler may be going for No. 32. T.J. Watt in particular was mentioned on a story.
Damon

I wouldn't make too much out of the fact that Belichick is studying a lot of players who are projected to be selected well before the Patriots pick. While I do believe there's a strong chance the Patriots will swing a trade and wind up picking before the third round, I don't necessarily feel Belichick looking at players like Watt is the reason. He always does his due diligence every year and has talked about players who are slated to go in the top five even when the Patriots are typically selecting at or near the bottom of the first round. There are a lot of players to get to know and Belichick doesn't typically ignore too many regardless of their draft projection.
Paul Perillo

At the recent NFL meetings, one of the proposed changes was to allow teams to have another option for helmets and uniforms. Are the Patriots going to be allowed to wear their beloved throwbacks this season? I sure hope so. Thanks.
Dave Travinski

That proposal, by the Philadelphia Eagles, was eventually dropped and there have been no changes to the league's one-helmet rule. The rule does not prevent teams from wearing throwback uniforms and helmet logos, however. Teams do so often now and simply use different decals and striping on their helmets – so the Patriots could wear the old Pat Patriot if they wanted to go through the trouble of swapping out logo decals and changing them over. To this point they have chosen not to do so. If anything changes with the Patriots plans to wear throwbacks in 2017 we'll be the first to let you know.
Paul Perillo

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I understand Malcolm Butler's representative is a lawyer with no experience with professional athletes. Do you think the situation with Malcolm Butler would have turned out any different if he had an agent with experience?
Morris Hickok

I know next to nothing about Butler's agent Derek Simpson but I haven't seen or read anything that would lead me to believe he's been a problem. Butler is a restricted free agent and therefore has every right to talk to other teams and gauge his value. To this point Simpson has given no indication that Butler intends to hold out or miss any time, so I'm not sure why anyone believes the agent has done anything wrong. He believes his client is worth more money than the Patriots have offered – and since we can only go by reports and don't have the information with any level of certainty – and there's no reason to suggest he's wrong. So to answer your question I'd say Simpson is doing everything he can to keep Butler's options open, which is probably a wise course of action.
Paul Perillo

Hey I was just wondering with Jordan Richards' lack of improvement and playing time plus the age of Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung do you see the Pats going for a safety at some point in the draft? I really like the idea of Marcus Maye. He's got size, the ability to drop down and play box safety plus he isn't afraid to be physical. He should still be available in the later rounds and is definitely worth it what do you think?
George Foreman

I don't see safety as a huge need for the Patriots at the current time. You left out Duron Harmon, who re-signed in the offseason, when running down the depth chart. McCourty and Chung will both turn 30 in August and probably have at least a few years left. Harmon is also here for another four years. Even if Richards doesn't develop the depth chart is probably fine for 2017, and I believe the team has greater needs in the draft. That doesn't eliminate the possibility of taking a safety, especially in the late rounds. Maye is a solid prospect but I've seen him projected as a third-round pick. If that's accurate that's higher than I would take a safety, especially if the Patriots don't add picks in the first two rounds come draft weekend. Thanks for the question, Champ.
Paul Perillo

Hi. First-time correspondent. I have been following the Patriots since 1982, when Channel 4 TV in the UK started broadcasting American football. Bill Belichick keeps the rest of the league on its toes with his outside-the-box thinking. So, assuming that he thinks that Jimmy Garoppolo is the genuine article and with the ever-increasing salary cap, why couldn't he keep Jimmy after his rookie contract has expired next year, on an appropriate salary and let him play 50 percent of every game alongside Tom Brady? Opponents would have to cope with two different play schemes. Such an arrangement would not only extend Brady's shelf life, but Jimmy's as well. Furthermore, it would also ensure continuity when Brady finally decides to retire. Would this not be a good way to ensure that the dynasty continues with minimal disruption? Thanks for your entertaining and educational podcasts.
Nahum Gordon

As someone who enjoys outside-the-box thinking I'm not sure this one works. Brady certainly wouldn't like the idea of sitting half the game and I'm not sure Garoppolo wants to stick around to play half the time rather than signing elsewhere to become the full-time starter. I understand the desire to keep Garoppolo as Brady's replacement but it's not going to be an easy thing to do. If Brady continues to play well I'm not sure there is much of a chance of making that happen. Garoppolo wants to play and if Brady is showing no signs of decline he's not going to be sharing his reps anytime soon.
Paul Perillo

Where does Butler rank among CBs in the draft? I would think he is right there with the highest ranked ones. Seeing mock draft from Casserly, first CB goes 5th overall, followed by 13th, 14th, 28th and 29th, wouldn't teams want proven player over a hope and a pray? I know money is where the issue comes, rookie vs FA contract, but if money is not an issue for any of those teams, would you not want Butler?
Vlad
Brooklyn, N.Y.

You started to answer your own question there at the end when you brought us salary. Rookie deals are very cost-effective at this point while Butler will cost plenty on the open market. Age also factors in as Butler is 27 while some of the rookies will enter the league at 21 or 22. I'm not sure where Butler fits in talent-wise with the rookie crop but my guess is the gap isn't that significant. It's widely considered to be a strong group of corners and it's possible that several will turn out to be more talented than Butler. If money was no factor at all I'd take Butler because I know he can play, but that's also not a realistic outlook because money is a factor. So it becomes would I rather have a 21-year-old rookie on a five-year deal worth less than what the 27-year-old Butler would get as a free agent? That becomes much tougher to answer, and in that regard I'd trust my talent evaluators to pick the right corner in the draft. Easier said than done.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys! Big Pats fan here in Tennessee. Am I the only one who especially after seeing the results of his pro day thinks that the Pats should draft RB D'Onta Foreman out of Texas? He seems to have similar size to Blount and potentially some decent speed as well given his 40 time of 4.45. I think he would be perfect to groom as a big back replacement for Blount since they don't really have anyone at the moment.
Kyle Fuller

Nope. You are not alone Kyle. I like Foreman as well and think he'd be a great fit in the middle rounds. I love the idea of adding a young back in the draft, preferably one with some size and athleticism like Foreman. He has the size, speed combination that would be an excellent complement to the offense and I'd love to see him added to the mix as Blount's replacement.
Paul Perillo

NFL is supposedly very concerned about player safety and length of games. So, eliminating overtime should be a big priority as it addresses both directly. And a solution for making the game better by eliminating ties is to introduce a point system for ranking teams in their divisions and conferences. Win = 3 pts, Loss = 1 pt, Tie = 1 pt. In this scenario, a team is better off losing than tying, so the dreaded tie game (which I don't mind) will be eliminated except of some end of season weird tactical instance. More drama, more 'do or die' scenarios, and thus more excitement will be the result, as well as shorter and safer games. What do you think? Is this a stupid idea? I think it's brilliant, but my friends think I'm crazy.
Gary Wolff

No offense Gary, but I'm with your friends. I don't see why this eliminates overtime (which doesn't address the fact that there's no need to eliminate overtime in the first place, but that's a different story). Why would a team rather lose to earn a point than try to win in OT to earn 3 points? And why would you ever allow a team to earn points for losing? So many issues and so few answers. And you must be the only person who doesn't mind ties. If you're keeping score you might as well have a winner.
Paul Perillo

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Curious to know if there is ever any chatter about converting James White to the slot as a replacement for the ageing Edelman?
William Allen

I don't see White as a true slot receiver. He's a terrific pass-catching back out of the backfield but doesn't run a lot of routes from the slot. I'm not sure he has the quickness to consistently operate against corners trying to get open underneath. He represents a great mismatch against linebackers out in space and that's how he makes most of his plays. Perhaps he has this ability and we've seen Belichick do unconventional things in the past but I'm not sure this one is going to happen. Plus, Edelman still has some time left here.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, unfortunately Washington CB Sidney Jones, formerly a consensus first round pick, suffered a torn Achilles at his pro day around a month ago. What are the chances he falls down to us at pick 72, and do you think we should take a shot at him if we get the chance? Personally, I would be in favor of this pick, as Butler's future is currently up in the air and he doesn't seem destined to be in New England for many years down the line. I could be wrong but it seems like players are recovering from Achilles injuries far better now than they used to, and we saw Cameron Wake come back almost good-as-new from an Achilles tear this past season so I don't think we should rule out Jones' returning to full form for the 2018 season (assuming he is out for all of the upcoming season). I know that an edge rusher or an off the ball linebacker to complement Hightower may be a more pressing need, but I don't think we should pass up the chance to take a guy with first round potential in the third round.
Ben Offen

Love the thought process all around. In fact many people have suggested the Patriots will do just that and take a flyer on an injured player like Jones or Michigan tight end Jake Butt in the third round. I like the idea of Jones more because I believe he's a better player. If the Patriots don't acquire any additional picks, however, it may be tougher to take a player who doesn't project to play in 2017. But I do like the idea of getting a first-round talent like Jones in the third round and wouldn't be surprised if Belichick did just that.
Paul Perillo

Greetings from UK! Big Patriots fan from Mexico, I was wondering what happened to Michael Floyd, will he be back to the Patriots for another season or do we start to consider him an infinitesimal (yes, like in calculus) piece of history in the team? Regards!
Erik Resendiz

I learned to never say never a long time ago but I would say you could consider updating your calculus vernacular and treat Floyd as a former Patriot.
Paul Perillo

Another in the long line of Malcolm Butler questions: what is the benefit to Butler of not signing the Patriots first-round tender? Assuming the Patriots don't let him go via trade or by not matching another team's offer sheet, he still has to play for the Patriots whether he signs or not, right? The only difference I can see between him signing and not signing is his 2017 salary. Why wouldn't he sign? What benefit does he get by delaying?
Rod Smith

The benefit is Butler is free to talk to any team about a possible contract. If he signs the tender he loses that right and is no longer a free agent. The deadline for teams to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets is April 21, so at that point he'd have nothing to lose by signing the tender. But until then he forfeits his free agent rights by doing so.
Paul Perillo

Assuming Butler signs his RFA first-round tender at $3.91 million, what happens with his rights after next season? Could the Patriots again put a first-round tender on him?
Graham Smith
Toronto

One last Butler question … assuming Butler stays and plays out the 2017 season on the tender he would then become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and would be free to sign anywhere. The Patriots could opt to use the franchise or transition tags on him but they would require a lot more than the $3.91 million tender he received this year. This would give the team some protection but it would also cost a lot of money.
Paul Perillo

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