Do you think the Patriots will re-sign Vince Wilfork to a new deal? Personally, I don't see it. There's been no communication between the brass and Vince, and I doubt there will be any changes. The way things are going with the Patriots decisions lately it's like watching a horrible pro wrestling show. Also, do you see Julius Peppers and LaDainian Tomlinson coming here? And what do you think of Randy Moss' words? It's kind of odd the guy who got three years, $27 million is saying the Patriots don't pay.
Hank serves as an excellent leadoff man for us this week with several timely questions. I'll start with Wilfork, who obviously was assigned the franchise tag on Monday. First, I'm not sure why you don't believe that the sides have spoken when both have said exactly the opposite. According to each side, the communication has been open and the desire to strike a deal exists. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I feel a long-term extension will get done. If you're asking my opinion, and you are, I don't think it will. I feel Wilfork is looking for a bigger deal than the Patriots will offer. Reports have suggested he's already turned down one that included around $23 million in guarantees. That's certainly a legitimate offer, but Wilfork feels he could get more on the open market and he's probably right. Now he can go out and solicit offers while under the franchise tag and be certain of his worth. If it's not as high as he and his agent thought, then maybe a deal can get done. If it is, and I believe that to be the case, then he likely plays out the 2010 season and leaves in 2011. Peppers is a possibility but will cost the Patriots some money. They've been linked to the talented pass rusher for more than a year now and I have to believe the constant smoke has emanated from a fire somewhere. Whether or not the Patriots can sign him is another story, but I believe there is genuine interest in Peppers. Unfortunately, I don't think New England will be the highest bidder and I think that's what it would take to get it done. I have no use for Tomlinson at this stage of his career. He's been a shadow of his former self the last two years and he doesn't seem to be handling his diminished role gracefully. He's not the dynamic runner he once was, but he thinks he is. That's a problem, especially on a team that doesn't run the ball all that often to begin with and also has a deep backfield where the carries are spread out. I'll pass on LT. Moss' comments were interesting but I think you misunderstood them a bit. His point about the team not paying wasn't in reference to himself. He actually pointed out that he was an exception but added that he doesn't expect to be again the next time. I don't think it was contentious in any way, but rather Moss' true feeling regarding the topic. I share his belief that 2010 will be his last in New England. Thanks for getting us started, Hank.
The Pats gave Wilfork the tag. And they said that are still working with him to get a deal done. However he stated that if the Pats give him the tag he would be upset. Do you think they will still work on a deal? Or will he be mad at this tag and not work with the Pats to get a long-term deal done? I'd like to know what you guys think about this.
Like I said, I have no reason to believe either side is not being honest in this situation. The Patriots stated quite clearly that they intend to keep working toward a deal and Wilfork's posted remarks via Twitter certainly expressed the desire to continue working as well. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but I do expect the sides to keep negotiating toward a long-term deal.
I have questions about two players. First, what do you think went wrong with Adalius Thomas during his time with the Pats? He was such a beast in Baltimore. Any possible way you guys see the Pats getting rid of him? Can they trade him and eat some of his salary? Second, does anybody see Julian Edelman becoming a huge surprise and catching 70-80 balls next year? He's not Wes Welker, but he seems football intelligent, hard to tackle and has good hands. Most importantly Tom Brady seems to like him out there and Brady can make anybody look better. All he needs is more time to practice route running. I know I'm drafting Edelman for my fantasy team.
That's a good question about Thomas. I'm not sure exactly where it all went wrong with him but there's very little doubt that things soured here on both sides. I thought it was a mistake to play Thomas on the inside during his first season in New England back in 2007 and that seemed to bother him a bit. I thought his greatest asset was his speed and athleticism and putting him inside somewhat negates a lot of that. His size and speed made him a rare commodity on the outside, but inside where he would be taking on guards that advantage was negated. But to say that's the reason for the falling out … I'm not sure about that. Clearly Thomas has a problem with what he perceived as a lack of communication. He expressed his frustration with not knowing his role or where to turn to with any problems he may have. At the same time, plenty of other players have been able to thrive under similar circumstances so it's unfair to put this all on the Patriots coaches and leave the player blameless. At this point I think the wise course would be to simply move on. I think the Patriots will explore trade possibilities, which may not be easy given his salary, and then ultimately release him. Either way it's tough to envision Thomas in a Patriots uniform this season.
As for Edelman, I could see him catching 70-80 passes, sure. A lot depends on whom the team adds at the position, but as of now he is the only legitimate receiving threat after Randy Moss. Therefore I could see him catching a lot of passes if he stays healthy. But I've never been one to be overly impressed by the number of receptions a receiver records. Do those receptions lead to first downs and touchdowns? Do they open up opportunities for others? Those are tough things to predict. Welker moved the chains all the time but he rarely got into the end zone and therefore the Patriots offense wasn't as productive as many believed it would be. I can see the same kind of situation with Edelman, only not as productive. I wouldn't chase him in a fantasy leagues, but then again I'm not a big fan of the land of make believe either.
I heard news that Antonio Cromartie wants out of San Diego. He would fill the Patriots need at cornerback and as we all know he is a versatile playmaker. Any chance he's a Patriot next fall?
Sure, why not. If the Chargers are indeed intent on trading him, I don't see why the Patriots wouldn't at least explore the possibility. I don't know a lot about Cromartie's background in terms of learning different systems and I have seen enough of him in San Diego to know if he's only suited to play one style or another. I do believe he's a very athletic playmaker who has the ability to change games and therefore I'd be interested in acquiring him. I'm not sure what the Patriots have to give – the Chargers are reportedly looking for a running back in return and New England doesn't really have one that would do the trick. Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk (assuming he's re-signed) are too old and Laurence Maroney wouldn't be enough to get Cromartie – at least not in my mind. But sometimes teams look at players and think they could succeed more in their system, and perhaps A.J. Smith believes that's the case with Maroney and a deal could be done. I'd certainly be in favor.
Could it be possible to sign Julius Peppers and keep AD at the same time? I know everyone sees AD being cut and for good reason, but he was very unhappy with the way he was used and the other issues I believe stem from that point. If we could sign Peppers and let AD know what his usage would look like (a lot more freedom to rush the QB) then I see no reason to let him go. Think about it, Peppers could make AD the player we thought he would be when we first singed him. We could have two explosive OLB with Tully Banta-Cain as our backup. This is a business and most people dislike their bosses from time to time but we still work and so can AD.
I totally agree with your point about Thomas' return not being impossible. The Patriots have had many players who appeared to be out who have returned, like Ty Law several years back. I don't agree about the desire to have Thomas back, however. The Patriots rarely employed him as a pass rusher last season when the team barely generated any pressure all year. Now we're going to sign Peppers and use Thomas as a pass rusher? Maybe the Patriots don't think he'd succeed in such a role and that's why he hasn't been used much in that capacity. If so, it's hard to imagine adding Peppers would somehow elevate Thomas as one of the pass rushers and demote Banta-Cain. Banta-Cain was ahead of Thomas last year when Peppers was in Carolina. Why would anything change? The bottom line for me with regard to Thomas is it's time to end the relationship. He was a disruptive force in the locker room last year and to me that's what makes him different from guys in the past. He hasn't produced and he's not helping off the field. It's time to go.
I know that all the talk of late has been about the Patriots main problem (pass rush). But I would like to ask the question about our need for a third WR spot. I looked at a lot of FA and was wondering if you see someone like Brandon Marshall, Antonio Bryant and Vincent Jackson as possible Patriots? Other notable FA: Muhsin Muhammad, Lance Moore, Steve Breaston. I'm asking, do you see any of these players that Bill Belichick would take into consideration and possibly pick up one of these WR?
The problem with most of the guys you mentioned is that they are restricted free agents and therefore their teams can match any offer the Patriots make. Plus, even if the teams don't match the offer there will be compensation to hand over in the form of draft picks. Depending on the level of tenders these guys get (Vincent Jackson surely will get the highest and require a first- and third-round picks in return) the price may be too high. Muhammad and Bryant are the only two unrestricted guys and Muhammad is not much of a threat at this point. Bryant is an intriguing possibility. He's one of the few UFAs still in his prime (he'll be 29 in March) and he has the ability to be a big-time player. He'll also require a decent chunk of change to sign him but he's the one guy on your list I'd look into.
Why do you guys put names like Aaron Kampman and Shawne Merriman on the possible Patriots list if that may be a reach for us? Do you really think our pass rushing woes will be solved? I sure think also with the additions of ILB Antonio Pierce and OLB Jason Taylor. What do you think?
I'm not sure what your question is here … you don't know why we put some names on a list but then you put others on a list? First, Antonio Pierce isn't going to do anything to solve anyone's pass rushing woes. He's an inside guy who blitzes occasionally but at less than 240 pounds he's not an ideal candidate to play inside in the Patriots scheme. Plus he has some serious injury history with a bulging disk to be concerned about. Taylor is going to be out a few months after shoulder surgery so I'm not sure he's in position to help the rush either. The Chargers are said to be quietly hoping someone makes Merriman an offer and therefore I felt he would be a guy the Patriots may be interested in despite his restricted status. Kampman also has some 3-4 experience that could translate to New England. That's why I included those two in our Free Agent Wish Light story in the latest issue of PFW.
Hey guys I know it might sound crazy but do you think there is any possibility that we could see Terrell Owens in a Patriots uniform in 2010? He is still a talented receiver despite his age as long as he can be in the right system (evidence of the last few weeks of 2009 after the head coach was fired from Buffalo). The Pats need depth at WR and I think Belichick can keep T.O. in line and make sure he and Moss get along. What do you think?Willie Gelman
I wouldn't even consider it. T.O. is no longer the impact player he was and having him play second fiddle to Moss would only serve to annoy him even more. T.O. did nothing last year in Buffalo … his numbers rose slightly as you said but only by comparison to his miserable performance earlier in the season. Owens is not the guy he once was but remains every bit the problem he's always been. Teaming him with Moss would be suicide if you ask me.
If the Chargers are indeed interested in dealing Antonio Cromartie, what do you think he would cost? Do his NFL-high 10 interceptions in 2007 drive the price up, or his just five since drive the price down? He'd be a great pickup on the cheap.Rem DaCosta
What would you consider cheap? Interceptions aren't the sole barometer of quality cornerback play. It's one part of it, but I don't have enough information to know why he's only had five picks in the last two seasons. Maybe teams haven't thrown the ball his way as often. Maybe he hasn't taken advantage of the opportunities he's had to make plays. Regardless, he's a talented young player who for some reason the Chargers seem ready to jettison out of town. That causes me some concern. I'd definitely be interested, as I stated earlier. I wouldn't give up a first-round pick, but maybe one of the seconds. I'd certainly give them Maroney if they insist on getting a running back in return. But I don't see the Chargers simply giving him away so I don't think you're going to get him "on the cheap."
We are going to have to wait and see what the RFA tenders are but I would like to see the Patriots go after RFA Steve Breaston WR Arizona. The cost of signing him might be a second-round pick but the Patriots have three of them. Rather than drafting a rookie WR in the second round they would be getting a receiver that is in the prime of his career. Although, I wouldn't give up a second-round pick but the other RFA players I like are Lance Moore, Jason Avant and Chris Gocong. Are there any RFA that you like? That's where the talent seems to be.
I'd doubt if the Cardinals only tendered Breaston at the second-round level. He's likely to get at least the first-round level and possibly the highest (first and third) level. The money isn't all that different between these tenders and depending on what the players' salaries are, there has to be an increase of 110 percent regardless, so some of these guys will almost have to receive high tenders to make the numbers work. For example, if a player earned in excess of $1 million in 2009 then 110 percent of that might put the number close enough to the high tender area to make it in the teams' best interest to protect themselves. This would be especially true for former first-round picks like Braylon Edwards or Ronnie Brown – top 10 picks who earned decent salaries even on their existing rookie deals. I'd be interested in Moore as a guy who could help in the slot and not likely cost too much in restricted free agent compensation. Gocong is an interesting possibility too given his flexibility to play up front or as a linebacker. It's just tough to project how restricted free agency is going to play out. Clearly that's where all the talent is since the fourth- and fifth-year players that would normally be unrestricted are entering their primes as restricted guys. This will be an interesting offseason to say the least.
Hi PFW team – enjoy reading Ask PFW every week here in London so thought I'd give it a shot. First of all, is the time of the conventional FB over or are we going through a pass and catch phase where the team has a running back with all round skills? I remember players like Kevin Turner and Sam Gash who would knock tattoos off linebackers and create holes for the running back. They also had great hands which proved reliable insurance polices for the QB. Secondly and I think I'm in the minority; I have no interest in Peppers being a Patriot. I would sooner the team look to the future and try and pick up a young pass rusher. Picking up veterans has worked in the past but feel this approach is not foolproof, as the last two seasons will testify.
Since you weren't lucky enough to have Andy Hart answer your fullback question you'll be subjected to my complete dismissal of the position as being irrelevant. Andy still loves the fullback and I'm guessing you feel like he does. I disagree and believe it's a waste in today's game. Kevin Turner was not a great blocker, as you suggested, and Sam Gash was not a great receiver. Both did one thing quite well but not both. That's one reason why I don't feel the need for a fullback – few have the necessary all-around skills to contribute in all facets. I'd rather put an extra tight end or backup lineman on the field if I want to load up and run the ball, and I'd rather throw the ball to quick, elusive backs with good hands when passing. I wouldn't be terribly disappointed to see the team employ a fullback, but I don't see Belichick having a one-dimensional guy like Gash serve in such a role. And I don't think there are too many successful teams who do so in today's NFL. As for Peppers, why not both? Signing Peppers doesn't eliminate the need to draft a young pass rusher. That's the direction I'd like to see the team go.