B: I try to condition myself to make decisions in the best interest of the Patriots and then move on, but even though our belief is that this is the right time for a change releasing Chris (Slade) today was very difficult and was not an easy thing to do at all. Chris has meant a great deal to the New England Patriots for a long time. He is a player and a person that I go back a long time with even when he was at the Senior Bowl coming out of college. He is very professional and he is a guy that is very well-respected both inside and outside of the organization, but in the end I felt it was better for us just to make a clean break and give him a fresh start. I just have nothing but good thoughts for Chris and I wish him well. It is a tough situation, it is a very tough day for me personally and a tough thing to do. That's where we are at.
Q: Was this a money deal?
B: Obviously in the timeframe that we are working in now with the salary cap, those are considerations and we will definitely pick up some savings by doing that, but it is really more of a decision about moving forward and doing what is right for both parties at this point in time.
Q: Have you decided what you want to do with the money you have?
B: We just got back from the combine and it has been kind of a busy day today, in fact it has been a busy last few days, but we need to get under the cap by Thursday and that is what we are in the process of doing. There are a number of different things we are looking at. There are a couple of irons in the fire here and there. So this is one thing, but we have some other business we need to take care of in the next couple of days as well.
Q: Are you under the cap right now?
B: No we are not under the cap right now based on a league calculation. We would have to submit some other things to them to comply with it if we had to be in compliance today.
Q: How difficult does it become when you have somebody like Chris Slade?
B: Of all of the people I have had to release as a head coach there has been no one more difficult than this. I just have so much respect for Chris. When he came out Virginia, we got him at the Senior Bowl in 1992 and it is just hard when you are involved with somebody for a long time like that and he is such a professional guy, it is not easy.
Q: How understanding was he?
B: I told him he will always be considered a Patriot and I think he will. I think he can speak for himself, but obviously it was tough for both of us.
Q: Who right now on the roster would you say that you have would be a candidate to replace Chris?
B: We have got a couple of things there. We have a couple of players on the roster and we will also be considering the free agent linebackers and draft choices. We have some time to resolve the situation to do what is totally best for the football team and we will get that done. Yes we do have some linebackers on the roster now, but if we can upgrade the situation we will try to do it.
Q: Along those lines, can you give us an update on what (Andy) Katzenmoyer's condition is, whether he will be able to play?
B: I saw Andy last week, I spent quite a bit of time with him along with Mike Woicik our strength coach and I think he is coming along pretty well. It doesn't look like he has any residual effects from the injury. I don't know if we kicked off today whether or not there might be some limitation, but it certainly doesn't look like there is going to be any problem on the timeframe that we are in right now. So I would say that he seems to be coming along fine and is doing well and would do everything that an athlete would normally do at this time of year.
Q: How much exactly was saved in releasing Chris?
B: It saved us about $1.7 million, somewhere in that neighborhood when it all nets out.
Q: Switching to Drew Bledsoe, have you guys felt the effects of the problems with his agents, I know you can't comment on his agents, but just on your end have you seen that as a stumbling block or something that has effected the talks?
B: I have heard the rumors about Drew's representation, I heard them out in Indianapolis and I really can't confirm whether that is or isn't that case, but maybe that does explain some of the stagnation in the negotiations. This is something that we have been trying to get done for a long time. I don't know maybe that played a part in it. I don't know
Q: Is Bryan Cox one of those free agents that you are interested in?
B: We are interested in a lot of players to a certain degree and right now we just got back from the combine and today has been kind of a busy day we are trying to prepare for the onset of free agency and some cap issues and also trying to get ready for the spring college workouts and clean up some of the information and get organized coming back from Indianapolis, so we are kind of in that organizational mode now. There are a lot of players that we have a certain degree of interest in. A lot depends on how it all turns out in terms of what the player is looking for and what we are able to do and so forth and we will start focusing on those guys later in the week and as we move into March.
Q: Getting back to Bledsoe, do you think that is going to have to resolve itself before you guys can before you can go full bore with the talks?
B: I really don't know, again I really can't comment on what the exact nature of that representation is or isn't. I know that there isn't much change in our end and that is the bottom-line.
Q: According to the league, how far over the cap are you?
B: I am not sure exactly, we are looking towards the final goal. I couldn't tell you exactly what the number is at this moment, but I think with some adjustments in the next couple days that we will be able to be in compliance and that's what we are working towards. There are a couple of different options and anytime you talk about a contract or talk about players at this time of year there is some fluctuation and we will just have to see how the specifics work out, but I think we will be okay in a day or two.
Q: When you say you would be over does that include tender offers and the qualifying offers you are going to have to give to your restricted guys and your exclusive rights guys?
B: Yes it is just budgeting. For all of the player that we either want to tender and have rights to or guys that are currently under contract, that's what the cost is and we have to manage that with the cap and the limit we can spend. So one way or another it has to be worked out. We focused on all of the costs and then we have to, one way or another, make those cuts.
Q: Was Chris a player you cut because his performance had dropped in relation to his salary?
B: I don't want to get into any criticism of Chris or any other guy who has been released. He can play in the league. Is he the same player he was four, five, six years ago? I'd rather not get into that. I can't say anything bad about Chris Slade.
Q: Is a cut of another veteran player a possibility to get under the cap?
B: I really don't want to speculate on what we will and won't do. We will do what we feel is best for the football team and if we have something to announce, we'll announce it, but I really rather not speculate on what could or couldn't be happening. The wheel is spinning around and it could stop a couple different ways.
Q: Have you been talking with Chad Eaton's people and will he reach Friday without a deal?
B: I don't think we will have a contract with any of our unrestricted free agents when free agency starts. That would be my guess at this point, including Chad. I just don't see that happening based on the way things have gone to this point. In the short period of time we have until free agency, my sense of it is that they'll all be unrestricted.
Q: How many talks with Bruce Armstrong and/or his representatives and has that been something you have spent a lot of time with this offseason or not?
B: We've spent a lot of time on our football team and we have spent a lot of time on the players individually, about what their role would be and what there performance has been and where they fit in our future plans. I have spoken to Bruce and we won't be offering Bruce anything at this time.
Q: You have said last year when some guys were released that the door remains open and negations may still occur. Is that same with Chris or is it going to be a clean break?
B: It's a clean break. I don't want to ever say never, I don't know what is going to happen a month from now, two months from now, six months from now. At this point now, as we spoke this afternoon that's the way we talked about it and that's the way we are going to approach it. If anything changes, there would have to be a reason for that change but right now that's the situation we are in.
Q: You didn't want to speculate on whether any other players would be cut, but has the organization contacted players about renegotiating deals to help get you under the cap?
B: There are some contract restructuring, adjusting fine-tuning, or how ever you want to characterize that we are in discussion with and those may or may not take place depending on whether an agreement can be reached by both sides. But, yes there are some of those that are on-going?
Q: Did you get something out of going to Indianapolis for the combine?
B: Yes, I think it was a real good trip. We got a lot out of it, in that we met a lot of players, talked to a lot of players and a good number of them worked out, not all of them but it's part of the process. I don't think it's the final verdict by any means, but it just gives you another piece of information on those guys. I was able to personally talk to an awful lot of players and put a name with a face and put a face with the type of player we have seen in film and get a feel for a little bit of their personality, a little bit of their playing style, a little bit of their physique and body composition. A really face to face visit. It certainly helpful, it could always be better, but we crammed a lot into a short amount of time and we saw a lot of people.
Q: What was the thought process behind talking with Michael Vick and Drew Brees at the combine?
B: Well were we are picking in the draft (6th overall) this year, we vitally have to look at every player and we aren't treating Michael Vick any differently than we're treating anybody else. If he is available we have to make a determination as to what our value is on him and whether or not we pick him or where we pick him. I think when you are at six you can always move down and you can always move up in the draft from that position to pretty much anywhere. Even though we are at six, I think we have to be ready to be at one just like we have to be ready to be at 16.
Q: What does that sixth pick have to be? Is there a mind set here with this pick after going to Indianapolis and seeing some if these guys?
B: The mindset will be the same as it always is, to maximize the value on that pick. Whatever the maximum value in our judgement for the football team than that's what I'll use it on. Could be moving up, could be moving down, could be staying right there and taking somebody who is on the board. It's just really impossible to say at this point how that is going to turn out. We'll be speculating about it 20 minutes before the draft gets underway. At this point we are trying to accumulate a lot of information. We had our whole coaching staff and scouting staff out there working with each other to assemble as much information as we possibly can on all the players were there. Now were coming back and sifting through it, trying to find out where the holes are that we need to fill in and we will be working on that as we move into the spring. Whatever we draft, you're going to be able to point out that we didn't get this or we didn't get that and your right. There is only so much you can take, but whatever it is we want to try and maximize it and those are the decisions that we're trying to put ourselves in place to make now. I don't think we can make good decisions without good information and we are trying to get good information.
Q: Is there anything new with Ty Law's grievance?
B: Not that I know of, again I've been away for a while here and I don't have anything to add to it.
Q: Generally that Patriots have waited in free agency until later on in the process to get some of the value players. Do you expect to do the same thing this year or might you start in right away and make some moves as soon as free agency opens up?
B: As soon as free agency opens up we will be involved at least in terms of talking to people. What will happen and when it will happen I can't predict any time frame that we will or won't sign anybody. I have no way of predicting that, I just don't know how it will workout. We plan on having discussions next week when free agency becomes, when the door officially opens on it. The timeframe for doing anything and what would happen is hard to say. I think this market is a little different from what it has been the last couple of years. It seems to be a little bit tighter in that there are more teams that have less flexibility then maybe usual. So every year part of agency is just seeing where the market goes and where it settles and we will just have to evaluate that as we go through it.