Hi guys, With Tom Brady currently counting 27 million against the cap, I have the same question I had last week. Why haven’t Brady and the Patriots reached an agreement to extend his contract and reduce his 2019 cap hit? Are the Patriots uncertain about Brady’s level of play beyond 2019? Has Brady led the Patriots to believe he is not committed beyond this season? Do you guys see any issue here? Thank you.
East Hanover, NJ
I do not think there is an issue here. Right now there is really no need to rework his deal, especially if Brady’s not pushing the point. The team has nearly $20 million in available cap space and the high-priced options of free agency are already gone. If a trade or signing were to come up necessitating more cap space, that might push Brady’s would-be extension to a head. Also, I’m not sure the extension is going to create quite as much cap space as people assume. He has $12 million in proations from past contracts that will count on his cap number moving forward with a new deal, plus any signing bonus prorations that come from the likely costly new pact. I also think the comments made over the last year or so from Jonathan Kraft indicate a pretty solid comfort level that Brady’s contract and future will take care of itself. Of all the things to worry about with the defending Super Bowl champs, I think Brady’s contract status is at the bottom of the list.
Patriots contracts are usually spot-on value wise, and this is why I don't get how SB MVP and the only proven receiver on Pats roster Edelman has a $5.4M cap hit while Devin McCourty, about the same age and far from a being a star, has a cap hit of $13.4M? And do you expect BB to fix that?
There were reports that when New England pursued free agent slot receivers Adam Humphries and Cole Beasley that those potential signings might coincide with an adjustment in Edelman’s contract. He’s clearly underpaid right now coming off his Super Bowl MVP performance and given the depth chart around him his value may never be higher, even as he approaches his 33rd birthday. I would honestly be surprised if Edelman doesn’t have something done with his contract at some point. As for the comparison to McCourty, you have to realize that Pro Bowl safeties are more valuable than slot receivers in the NFL’s salary structure, although the gap may be closing. While you can personally decide which player you think is worth more, the market may say differently. Now, I do think that McCourty is overpaid in his final year of his contract he signed when he hit free agency and almost moved on to the Giants or Eagles back in 2015. All three teams reportedly were offering deals in the range of $10 million AAV, so it’s not like the Patriots bid against themselves when they signed the Pro Bowler and team captain to a five-year deal worth $48 million. Now, they are paying off the final year on that deal, whether you think it’s overall good value or not. It’s also a somewhat unique situation in that very few NFL players actually reach the end of their five-year contracts, so those cap-eating years often don’t come to fruition. In this case, it has.
With the departures of many vital parts of our coaching staff, how will Belichick counter and develop new players without veteran support?
First, I do think that Belichick has a decent amount of veteran support at some spots on his staff (Dante Scarnecchia, Ivan Fears, Josh McDaniels and even Bret Bielema) and certainly in terms of players in the locker room. Second, Belichick has seen his staff change a lot over the years and has plenty of experience working through transitions. I will admit, though, that this is the most extreme example of coaching staff turnover that he’s gone through in his time in New England, made even more unique with Greg Schiano’s resignation from his previously undefined role just last week. The one thing I will say is that Belichick’s system of promoting from within means he has a track record and comfort with most of his coaches, even if they are ascending to new roles. Still, I do think there is a lot of unknown and uncertainty on the coaching staff this year and keeping an eye on that will be one of the major stories of training camp and then into the regular season.
If a coach/team wants to review a penalty or play that they feel should have been penalized, and they're WRONG or DO NOT get a play overturned, they should be penalized 15 yards and loss of down for delay of game. I think this would cut down on challenges on ticky-tack calls and would lead to challenges only being used for obvious calls.
Example: 3rd and 10 at the opponents 35. QB throws a jump ball, there's some incidental contact on an incomplete pass. The coach could challenge the play. If he's right, he gets the first down at the spot of the foul. If he's wrong, the ball gets pushed back to the 50 where the opponents will now take over from the loss of down. It would really limit the challenges to only obvious clear cut mistakes. And that that is what the ultimate goal of the rule is. Do you think making an amendment like that would be a good idea??
FYI. This is a system that the NHL already uses. If you challenge an offside or if a player is using an illegal stick and upon review they're wrong, the team receives a two-minute penalty.
The “penalty” for an incorrect challenge remains as it always has been – loss of a timeout – whether it’s a traditional challenge or the newly added areas of pass interference. At this point I don’t see the need for more of a hindrance than that. Coaches still only get two challenges and need a timeout in order to use them. And under two minutes the review will be called for by the booth. I don’t think there will be this onslaught of challenged pass interference calls that some are fearing. But, we’ll have to watch it play out for a year to see how it goes and if there are any unforeseen issues with his much-needed rule change.
Hello, do you think there is any possibility of the Pats trading for Mohamed Sanu? What might the cost be? Are there any other decent pass catchers out there who may be available? I've read Cincy is open to trading John Brown but he seems like a bust. Just wondering, thanks.
I do think a trade for a veteran receiver is a very real possibility for the Patriots, maybe even between now and the draft later this month. Sanu is a guy proven to be durable and productive, having topped 59 catches in each of his last three seasons in Atlanta. The Falcons have Julio Jones and impressive youngster Calvin Ridley, so moving on from Sanu and his $7-plus million cap figure isn’t crazy talk. His number isn’t too big for a receiver-needy team like the Patriots, though. As for the Bengals, I think you are referencing John Ross, the former first-round pick who’s been hurt and a disappointment in Cincy. I’d rather have Sanu for his ready-now potential, but regardless of the name I do think the Patriots need to make a move for a possible impact option at receiver.
Yes, Brady is getting up there and will retire in the next few years but does the team really need to draft his replacement now? Everyone keeps saying they need to pick the heir apparent, even trade for Josh Rosen to serve as back-up and replacement someday. But as we saw with Jimmy G, the heir apparent can get impatient and get to a point where it's not financially feasible to keep them around. Drafting the heir worked for the Packers, where Rodgers sat for a couple years, but would that same scenario work nowadays? Also, Favre stayed longer than originally planned and it resulted in a situation where the Packers were forced to trade Favre to start Rodgers. Also, without knowing what Belichick is going to do, would he really want to use a draft pick on a franchise QB? If he retires when Brady does, that wouldn't be a good use of a pick. Whoever takes over as the next coach would want their own guy under center. If it is to be McDaniels, which I don't think it will be, then he could want his QB on the roster now to start grooming but what if it's not McDaniels? Anyone new would want to draft their own guy and really not have any of Bill's fingerprints on the team. It seems that a better use of the draft picks during the last years of Brady's time would be to get players that can help get more Super Bowl rings.
Lots of specific questions here regarding the umbrella debate of whether the Patriots need to pursue Brady’s possible replacement this offseason. While I don’t think there is a major rush, I do believe that if the team really likes a QB in the draft or via a reasonable trade it should pull the trigger. Having talent at the quarterback position is never a bad thing. New England thought Jimmy Garoppolo was a starting-caliber player and took him in the second round. Despite “wasting” that pick, the Patriots won the Super Bowl that very year. The backup QB proved valuable on the field for a short time and then was traded away when his contract was coming up. He was insurance and also recouped the investment. Brady is now older and closer to the end. Certainly the team has many needs to fill in the draft, but if the right guy is there I would take a QB without hesitation. Can never have enough QB talent.
Considering the fact that the Patriots play worse in Miami because of the heat what will the Patriots do to prepare for the Super Bowl which is being held in Miami? Will they train more in the heat?
This is my favorite email of the week. Just gonna leave it right here. No response needed.
Will the Patriots be picking up some good offensive linemen considering the fact that Tom Brady has worse performance under pressure?
Alex’s first email made me laugh enough to post his second. The Patriots return 80-percent of the starting offensive line that led the way on a postseason run to a Super Bowl title last winter and the open spot at left tackle is likely to be filled by last year’s first-round pick, Isaiah Wynn. There are always ups and downs with the line, and long term there could be a need to develop guys to step up at guard, center and tackle, but the continuity of the group is pretty solid heading into 2019. The unit will also be coached by the greatest offensive line coach in the history of the game, Dante Scarnecchia. I'd also argue that Brady is worse when he has no weapons to throw to and that's the spot he's in right now at this point in the offseason team-building process. So, I think tight end and wide receiver are much bigger needs on offense than the line.
How do you think the team will handle the Wide Out position whether in free agency and/or the draft?
I think there is a need to for the Patriots to add at least two potential top-four contributors at wide receiver in the coming weeks and months. My guess is that at least one of those will come with a pick in the first two rounds of the draft and the other might come in a trade for a veteran. Now, I have no idea who the specific guys will be, but guys with the ability to contribute in 2019 are a must as New England just doesn’t have a lot to work with at receiver right now.
What do you think about the Patriots trying to get TE Kelce from the Chiefs? What do you think they would have to give up in order for that trade to happen? Do you think that Bill would want to get a proven TE that resembles what Gronk could do on the field? I also want to shout out to Gronk. Thanks for the memories and I hope you have a great career in whatever you decide to do next. I'm glad you were a Patriot and you will be one for life!! Go Pats!!!!
I would love to see Kelce in a Patriots uniform, but why oh why would the Chiefs trade away an elite playmaker coming off the best season of his career after the team already lost a top running back and has another key weapon in doubt due to police investigations? I don’t know if you could offer enough for K.C. to even listen at this point for the All-Pro tight end. Not happening. But, if the Patriots do want to try to find a Gronk replacement I think that would come in the form of a trade up in the first round to get Iowa stud prospect T.J. Hockenson. I think Hockenson is the closest thing to a guy like Gronkowski entering the league since Gronkowski. He’s a weapon as both a receiver and a blocker and seems to truly enjoy dominating guys as a blocker. Some projected Hockenson to go in the top 10 and I don’t think it would be realistic to trade up that high. But if he slips to the middle of the round or the late teens I would definitely consider that move. I think he could be a star in the NFL.
The Patriots obviously need a tight end and wide receiver in the draft as evidenced by most of the mock drafts. However Bill does not always draft by specific need but will sometimes draft the best player available. In this year’s draft there are a bunch of DEs. So do you think that Bill will take the best player available at the end of the first round?
I think all drafting is some mix of need and best player available. I think the Patriots biggest needs are tight end, wide receiver and defensive line. Those just happen to be three of the most talented, deep positions in this year’s draft class. So my guess is that the top pick will come from one of those three spots. Belichick isn’t going to reach to take the next player at a position if he isn’t worthy of the selection, but I also don’t think he’s going to pass on a player at a need spot for a guy with only a slightly higher grade at a spot of perceived depth. It’s a balance. And, as Belichick himself has said in the past, all things are never equal.
What play last year had a greater sway in the rule change allowing coaches to challenge pass interference calls and non-calls, Pats/Rams (Cooks “drop” at 1-yd line) or Saints/Rams game. I think it was Pats/Rams since Competition Committee stated that the Cooks play should have been called defensive interference against the Pats. IMHO, Pats envy continues!
It’s the non-call in the NFC title game that cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl and helped send the Rams on to play the Patriots. And it’s not even close. Without that play no one would have been talking about the Cooks play. Ever. Heck, some Patriots fans and media didn’t even know what play the league was referencing at the annual meeting. The missed call in the Saints game changed everything in terms of getting replay review of pass interference.
Gronk's retirement is really a pity. But is it that important to put TEs replacement in team's first place? I mean, yes Gronk is very talent and powerful, but in the games without Gronk the Patriots had a 22-7 record. Shouldn’t we put WRs problem in the first place?
Not in my opinion, no. The receiver position has Super Bowl MVP Edelman returning a year removed from his torn ACL and Phillip Dorsett, at guy who has at least been in the system and contributed over the last two seasons. The tight end spot has no one to bank on at all. It’s a huge need at a spot that’s key to the New England offense, both in the passing game and the running game. And I hate all those record comparisons without players. Anyone who doesn’t think Gronk was a massive force every time he stepped on the field in New England wasn’t paying attention. And obviously didn’t read Belichick’s comments regarding Gronk’s contributions to the team and winning. Oh, and the Patriots are 14-6 in games without Brady since 2008, does that mean TB12 isn’t that important?
Why can''t the Pats wear their throwbacks? Does it have something to do with helmets? Did I once see the Pars wear a silver uniform?
The league initiated a rule for player safety reasons that players can only wear one helmet in a given season. So that keeps teams from changing to different colored helmets for throwback games, such as the Patriots wearing a white, Pat Patriot helmet. This is why I’ve always been told New England no longer wears its throwbacks. Now, I do believe teams could cover helmets in a full wrap if they really wanted to, but the Patriots haven’t gone down that road. I also don’t really understand why a player couldn’t have two helmets in the same size, model and fit in different colors. And if it’s such a safety issue, why are some college teams allowed to use almost an endless number of different helmets throughout the season? But I’m not a doctor or an expert. Yes, the Patriots did have a silver, alternate jersey for a few seasons (2003-07) but do not any longer. Of late New England has used its regular white and blue jerseys as well as a “color rush” alternate blue jersey.
With the salary cap for 2020 increasing to 200 million for each team, does a remaining surplus rollover for the next year? If so, would this not increase the Patriots spending allotment?
The actual salary cap for 2020 will not be set until next winter, just prior to the beginning of the new league year. But given annual increases in the range of $10 million-plus, it should approach $200 million. Any unused cap space from a prior season can be rolled over to the following year, something the Patriots and most teams do on an annual basis. That happens at the end of the season, though some teams will use the space on contract extensions late in the year rather than rolling it over. So, the Patriots adjusted 2020 salary cap will depend on how much if any cap space is rolled over at the end of this year as well as any adjustments that need to be made due to incentives in players’ contracts.
I think the Patriots receiving corps, outside of Julian Edelman, isn't all that great. Would it make sense to at least draft two receivers within the first three rounds? Also, I think the Patriots should look at Riley Ridley out of Georgia. Would he be a fit for this offense?
As I said earlier, I think the Patriots need to add at least two receivers with the potential to contribute in 2019. My preference would be to go after one veteran via trade and one high-end draft pick. But if the trade options don’t come to fruition before and by the draft, I would certainly consider taking two receivers in the first three rounds. I do like Ridley as a possible second- or third-round pick. I think his upside is probably as a No. 2 receiver in the NFL. I don’t think he’s super explosive, but I think he has good hands and body control to be a reliable option in a place like New England. And we all know the Patriots like Georgia players.