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Bill Belichick Post-Draft Press Conference Transcript

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BB: Just a couple of things about the draft first. I'm sure you're going to want to talk about the trade today. It started out in the morning with a couple of mid-round picks in the fourth and fifth round. After I talked to Scott [Pioli] this morning and it looked like we were going to have a deal with Buffalo then, we felt like when we had the opportunity to move up in the fourth round and take [Rohan] Davey, that that was one that we should capitalize on. So I talked to [Mike] Shanahan and we executed the deal with Denver. Rohan's a big, physical quarterback and he's got a lot of physical skills. He's probably going to need a little bit of development, but I think he's got a lot of good tools to work with. He's been in a good system and he's led his team to an SEC championship. He was captain of the team as a junior when he wasn't starting, so I think that speaks a bit to his leadership abilities and the type of player he was for LSU. We followed that up with a defensive end, Jarvis Green. We have a little bit of age at our defensive end position so I think this can be a player who hopefully can gain a little experience playing with some good guys who are good technique players and we can infuse a little bit of youth into that position. We traded out of the fifth round into next year's fifth round. And then with our last two picks we took Antwoine Womack, a running back at Virginia who was hurt early in the year and then came back and then hurt his knee in an all-star game. So he most likely will not play this year. After he rehabs, he'll be a future pick and we expect him to have a full recovery and be on the field in the '03 season, but probably will not be playing much this year. The last pick was Dave Givens, who's a multi-talented receiver from Notre Dame. He's a big kid, a big, physical kid and a local guy. He's been a running back and he's been a returner and he's a big receiver, has good hands and has been productive for Notre Dame particularly in his junior year. That's where we're at. Overall, as I think I said earlier, it was a draft similar to the 2000 draft where we also spent the first day's picks on offense. This was primarily a draft as it turned out for the offensive players and particularly offensive skill players. We didn't necessarily not want to take defensive players, but it obviously worked out that way. We would have liked to have added more youth and speed onto the defense, but we felt like we had to take advantage of the picks that we had and I do think we addressed the skill level on offense and the speed on offense. That was one of the goals of the draft and I feel like we made some strides there. As far as the draft and the sequence of events this morning, basically what happened … You know there was a little bit of conversation on Friday, but I really wasn't expecting for it to go much further than that. When I came in this morning before the draft started, Scott and I got together and then with Robert [Kraft] and Andy [Wasynczuk] and we talked about Buffalo's new proposal, which was for the first round pick and that was something that we thought was fair value for the player. We had talked a little bit earlier, but Buffalo had never really been at that point. When they were this morning, we thought that that was more in line for what we thought was the value and so we basically agreed to execute the trade at that point. There were a number of things as far as the language and the exact terms and so forth which Scott and Andy handled with the representatives from Buffalo, so I really don't have any details of that. I know there was some time delay between when it was reported and when it happened and so forth and so on, and I really can't speak to the exact timing of all those events, because I really wasn't involved in them, other than once we agreed internally that this was the direction that we were going to go. We attempted to contact Drew [Bledsoe] and then go on with Buffalo to execute the exact terms and specifics of the trade. So in my mind that kind of happened before the draft started, around 11-ish, but it certainly wasn't completed at that point and there were a number of other things that came up through the day and I do think that it had a little bit of an effect on our fourth-round pick, on Davey, because we were sitting there with two quarterbacks and we wanted to have a little bit of depth there, so that probably did influence that pick. So that was the last draft in Foxboro Stadium, a pretty busy weekend and a pretty busy day. When I came in this morning, I didn't have any expectations that we would make a trade with Buffalo today. Had they not come with the offer they had come with then we wouldn't be talking about that. We would have just gone on with our team the way it is and still worked to take whatever steps we could to address and improve it. So, like I said, it wasn't anything that I expected to happen. I can't say I was shocked when it did happen, but on the other hand, that's just the way it turned out today. So that's where we are.

Q: Did you talk to Drew personally?

BB: I didn't have time to call him during the day, but I called him after the draft and I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but I did leave a message with him.

Q: Did anyone contact Drew or talk to him at all?

BB: I think Robert did, but I'm not positive on that so I'll have to let him address that one, but I think Robert did talk to him, yes.

Q: What were your ideas for a trade? This must have been what you wanted.

BB: Well, I think that as things have gone on this spring, this might be the best thing for all parties involved. We had a couple of proposals earlier in the spring. There were talks I guess that I don't think were real serious. Scott talked to Buffalo a little bit last week or whenever it was, at the end of the week and it seemed like it maybe was closer but not really in range. So we didn't specifically have a real target in mind until, I think, fairly recently when in my mind Buffalo's proposal got somewhere close to a first round pick. I think that's something that we really would have needed to do the trade, which is ultimately where it happened.

Q: What is Bledsoe's legacy after nine years of playing here?

BB: Well I don't think there is any question, Drew has been a great player for this organization. He has been a tremendous person both on and off the field and he has given a lot of leadership to the people around here. I think I have had a good relationship with him since '96. I know that we have had a lot of ups and downs this year. There were some real high points and I know there were some tough times as well, but in the end he's a guy that has meant a lot to this organization and it was a tough move to make, but in the end I feel like as a head coach, as an organization, but speaking as a head coach you have to do what is best for the football team and that includes making some tough decisions and this was one. Personally I have a lot of respect and admiration for Drew, I always have, I have said it many times and I still feel that way. He will be a great competitor and I don't look forward to competing against him, but on the other hand you have to do what you feel like's best for your football team. We are going to have an opportunity to get a young player and add him to our team next year and Buffalo is going to get a good player this year and that's the way it is going to be.

Q: Did you have any apprehension about trading him to a team in your division?

BB: Well again, yeah, I have a lot of respect for Drew, Buffalo is getting a good player. There is no question. They gave up a significant price and they got a significant player. Buffalo is a tough team, the Jets are tough, Miami is tough, they are all tough and I am sure that we will have our hands full every week and I am sure that we will have our hands full when we play Buffalo twice a year. I don't have any other expectations. That is the way it has been since I have been here and that's the way it has been the last five, six years against Buffalo and I am sure that is the way it will be next year.

Q: Have you contacted Tom Brady to apprise him of what happened?

BB: I haven't talked to Tom. Tom will be in here tomorrow. I am sure I will get a chance to speak with him this week. No I haven't talked to Tom.

Q: Did any other teams make a play for Drew?

BB: Not that I am aware of. Again, my talks with Scott [Pioli] have been only when something that he feels appropriate and serious has come up. There is no way I could keep up with all of the different people he talks to particularly this time of year. The Buffalo situation came up late in the week, I forget if it was Thursday or Friday, whatever it was, and then there was a little more on it obviously this morning.

Q: Did you debate holding out in hopes of getting maybe a higher price as the summer went on?

BB: We talked about it a little bit in the week or two leading up to the draft about those different kind of scenarios, but we felt like in the end when the offer came in this morning that that was in the range of what we thought was right and what we were looking for and so we did it.

Q: Were you working on some kind of list of which teams Drew wanted to or did not want to go to?

BB: I wasn't working off of any list, no.

Q: You have said as things played out this spring it became clear that it might be best for everyone to move on, has his non-attendance at workouts or…

BB: No, I wouldn't characterize any and I would say it probably goes back a little further than the spring, but we all know what the situation is and we have got a football team and you only have one starting quarterback. However that situation is resolved, and there are a lot of different ways to resolve it, it is still a process that has to be organized and has to be followed through on. There are a lot of moving parts, but in the end it can only be one guy. We felt like that when you put it all together and put it all in one pot that this is probably the best thing for everybody.

Q: There are enough distractions being the Super Bowl Champions heading into mini camp and training camp, how important was it to just get rid of the distractions and just focus on what you have to do?

BB: Again, we weren't looking to get rid of anything we…

Q: But you knew it was going to be a distraction?

BB: Again, Drew is a good football player, Buffalo got a good football player, we got a number one pick, both have significant value. So that's the way I look at the trade and the best trades are the ones where both teams feel like they have gained something and that is probably the way both teams feel today. Maybe one for a shorter frame or quicker results and the other one it may take a little bit longer, but in the end each organization did what they feel is best.

Q: If this offer was made prior to the draft for a first round pick next year would you have accepted is before the draft?

BB: Well it wasn't so. It was made today. I couldn't really tell you what would have happened in a different point in time.

Q: Do you expect that there would be more interest in him?

BB: I didn't really have a lot of expectations. I am just trying to coach a team, trying to get ready for the draft, trying to work on free agency and whatever happens we deal with. Scott is the point person on personnel matters and contacts through the league and he is the one that gauges those kind of things. That is what I rely on him for. I think he has done a good job of it. He has obviously put a lot of time into the two trades that we made this spring. They have been probably not really easy ones to make, I don't want to speak for him, but they are not the simplest trades in the world and I think he has done a good job handling both of those situations.

Q: Bringing anyone in?

BB: You know we have one linebacker out there. Of course Bryan [Cox] signed in New Orleans. Roman [Phifer] at this point is unsigned. So we'll see how that situation is resolved. We've signed Ryan Phillips and that's…that kind of, not exactly, but in numbers offsets the signing in New Orleans. So we could be status quo and there's still quite a few days, actually months before training camp. So we will see what happens between now and then.

Q: You said you left Drew a message, do you think it is important to talk to him person to person at some point?

BB: Well I'd like to. I mean I don't know how he feels. I've done that before. Sometimes people feel comfortable calling back and sometimes they don't. I am sure that this year and this week probably haven't been easy for Drew and I can certainly understand that. I respect his feelings. Hey, Drew is as professional and about a standup a guy as you are going to get. Whatever happens with Drew I won't have anything but respect and admiration for him as a person and as a player.

Q: Have you ever seen a veteran player handle as difficult a situation as well as Drew did?

BB: I think it was a tough situation and I think Drew did handle it well. I don't know what else to compare it to. I've never been in a situation quite like that. I mean the [Phil] Simms/[Jeff] Hostetler thing was a little bit different. It was different in the '90 Super Bowl. It was a unique situation. I think all the parties: Damon [Huard], Tom [Brady], Drew and all the other people on our team did a lot last year to, whatever the situations were, and we had plenty of them, did a good job to focus on the target, focus on the goals, the game and the team concept and achieved results as a team, which is what we did. I think that is something that the players, the coaches and the organization should all be proud of and that's the way it needs to be. Everybody needs to handle it that way.

Q: Would it have been difficult for that scenario to play out in training camp?

BB: I don't know. I'm not sure exactly how it would have played out. I don't know. Drew hasn't been here in the offseason so I can't tell you exactly what would have happened had he been or how that would have moved forward. I just don't know. It's a new year. As I have said many times before, each team has its own chemistry every year. It's not something that a coach or anyone else can manipulate. It happens on its own and it works itself out, sometimes through circumstances, sometimes through personalities or sometimes through events that happen with the team. Each year it is unique, so I don't know whatever it is going to be this year. It'll probably be a little bit different than what it was last year and the following year. That's just the way it is.

Q: What does he do for Buffalo? Does he take them to another level considering the draft that they had? How dangerous does he make them?

BB: I think…again, he's an established quarterback. He's a proven winner and added to that team I am sure he makes them a better football team. How much better? We'll find out this year over a 16-game schedule.

Q: Since you don't know where in the first round Buffalo is going to draft next year, does that make a deal like this harder to do?

BB: Well you know I think that is a good question, but I think any time you trade in the first round you just pretty much have to figure in the middle of the round. It could be a little higher. It could be a little lower. It could be at the top. It could be at the bottom. I mean we don't know that, but I think to just gauge it you just have to take an average and figure you are going to be in the middle and it could be a little better than that or it could not. There is no way to know that. I mean none of us can see into a crystal ball and know how that is going to turn out a year from now. So that's part of the trade when you are in the first round. I think when you are trading into other rounds you have a much better…there is more of a consistent value on rounds, but the first rounders, you know there is a big difference between a real high pick in the round and a real low pick. The value is considerably different, but you just gotta hope it averages out.

Q: Can you gauge how improved this team is over two days ago?

BB: The two main things we wanted to address in the draft were to try to get young players in skill positions offensively and improve our team speed on defense and to create a little more depth in the positions where we had a little bit of age. I think we did that with basically all the picks. Now would we have liked to have had more and addressed it further? Sure, no question, but a tight end, a couple receivers, a running back a year from now, a quarterback. You know those guys add athleticism, speed and production to those postions and I think that we need production from those positions. We've also added some veteran players. So when it all fits in together we'll see who exactly fits in where, but I do think that there are some people to work with. I think also that we tried to address special teams. Branch is a returner. Givens plays in the kicking game. Graham can run and should be able to play in the kicking game. So I think that we should be able to get contributions from those people and we need to get them.

Q: Would you expect that Drew will flourish in Buffalo, knowing that team as you do?

BB: I think Drew is going to do well wherever he is. I mean he is a quality player and he's got good talent, but the main thing I'm concerned about is the New England Patriots and what our football team does and where we go and I really can't control what happens somewhere else: good, bad or indifferent. I have enough trouble trying to get a handle on what we are doing. So that's really what I am concerned about is what impacts our football team, how to give ourselves the best chance, how to put ourselves in a position where we can be most effective and most functional and be able to compete against some very good opponents in this division and in this conference. So that's where my main focus is, is our football team and what we can do. You know what happens somewhere else and how people play or what they achieve or how they are used or whatever somewhere else. You know we made two trades this year. Two talented players are going to other teams. Other teams are…they've gotten some value. We've gotten something in return. So in the end we felt like those were good moves to make, but they've gotten good players too.

Q: Did you give any thought at all to what Bledsoe's absence will do to Brady's performance? Would Brady be better with the competition or is he better off knowing that he is the guy?

BB: I think that's a good question. I think it is a fair question. You probably could make an argument either way. I think you can make an argument either way. There are probably pluses and minuses to both sides of that and I don't know that we will ever know what the answer to that is because there is no way to run through both scenarios. You know I don't think there is any question that Drew's experience is valuable to young quarterbacks. On the other hand, players get an opportunity to step and take control, then sometimes that makes them…give them an opportunity to flourish more than if they weren't. So I think there are good points on both sides of that one.

Q: Why not let them fight it out?

BB: I thought it was in the best interests of the football team to execute the trade when it came up. There were a lot of other options and there were other things that could have happened and things we could have considered, but in the end that was…we made the decision based on what we thought was best for the organization and the football team.

Q: So the effect on Brady was not conscious in your mind when you made the trade?

BB: Well I think it all, it's a bottom line. It's not…I don't think you can narrow it down to one thing; this was it or that was it. Look at the total situation. Look at what the offer was. Look at what the opportunity was and decide whether that is what you want to do or not.

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