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Patriots Unfiltered Q&A: Roster breakdown, ST focus and more

A variety of roster-related questions highlight this week's mailbag.


I know the Patriots leaders know a lot more about football than I do as I ask this question, so I ask seeking understandings: I was very surprised by the trade of Keion Crossen. Seemed like everything written here and on ESPN was pretty positive about him, good talent, upper tier athleticism and we trade him for what will probably be marginal benefit. I wasn't as surprised that we traded Duke Dawson, but I couldn't believe we only got a sixth-round pick, and had to include a seventh-round pick to get that. A guy a year removed from being a second-round pick now isn't even worth a sixth-round pick on his own? I feel like we are getting very little value in return for guys who seemed to have bright futures and could have been very important after this year when Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty could be gone. So what's your take on giving up on these guys and the value we got in return?

Austin Evans

I honestly can't argue too much with your assessment although I'm not really as concerned about it as you seem to be. Dawson didn't look great in training camp in either of his two seasons, and Bill Belichick obviously determined that his roster spot could better be used elsewhere. I understand we still look at him as a second-round pick but the reality is he hasn't played up to that level and clearly didn't have that kind of value on the trade market. You make a strong point about next season, however. Dawson's absence won't be felt this year but if Jones, McCourty and some others (the safeties?) are no longer around next year having guys like him and Crossen could help. Crossen in particular I was sorry to see go. I felt he had great value on special teams. They picked up some late-round picks and moved on, so it is what it is at this point.

Paul Perillo

These are my top three questions regarding Pats roster moves: 1. Was giving fourth- and sixth-round picks for an out-of-shape, unmotivated backup guard warranted? 2. With Crossen traded, why not red-shirt Webster instead of losing him to the rival? 3. Beck was looking like a great replacement to Develin, so why not keep him over the aging vet?

Ken M.

I'm assuming the first question concerns Jermaine Eluemunor, and if so you have the elements of the trade wrong. The Patriots traded a fourth-round pick but got Eluemunor and a sixth-round pick in return. They did not deal two picks for him. By all accounts he has the ability to be a starter at guard so at the very least he should provide depth at a position that has become thin. No. 2 -- I also liked Webster and actually felt he was similar in style to Crossen with the speed to contribute on special teams. But again, the roster crunch was felt in the secondary where some players had to go in order to make room for some others in areas that lacked depth. Im sure the Patriots planned on keeping him for the practice squad but Miami claimed him. As for No. 3, I did not share your enthusiasm for Beck. He didn't show much on the practice field or during preseason games. He had some versatility as he was used as both a tight end and running back, but I didn't feel he did enough to warrant a spot – even with the position so low on numbers.

Paul Perillo

Did Keionta Davis make the 53 cut? Could he possibly make the practice/scout team? He graduated from our University down here in Chattanooga Tennessee (UTC). We traveled to Foxborough to watch him and the team practice.

Mark Gluckner

Unfortunately Davis was injured during the summer and was released before subsequently making it through waivers and winding up on the Patriots injured reserve list. His 2019 season is over as a result unless he agrees to an injury settlement with New England and returns somewhere down the line.

Paul Perillo

Why wasn't Demaryius Thomas kept on the PUP list? Certainly his skills, ability to read defenses didn't erode overnight. Couldn't they tell by his extensive rehab program that he could move as well as before? They wouldn't have had to expose him to being poached. He plays a position of seemingly high need. Why risk him?

Dave Brown

Obviously Thomas was already back on the roster by the time I got to answer this post, but I kept it in to address the list part of the equation. Dave asks why the Patriots didn't keep him on PUP and the simplest answer is because he was healthy enough to return. Even if the team intended to release him for good, it makes no sense to keep a guy around and pay him if he's healthy enough to play but you have no plans for him. Obviously Thomas was healthy based on his play in the Giants game, so the team did the right thing by activating him off PUP. We'll see how he responds during the regular season but I feel his situation was handled correctly.

Paul Perillo

I take exception to critics of BB on the subject of draft success. I say he is amongst the best all time at assessing talent. And he always achieves more with less, which puts him at the highest level of coaching. In drafting, teams pick mostly on athletic ability. Coaches cannot always nail down things like commitment, attitude, ability to improve technique and proneness to injury. Players like Duke Dawson exemplify this point. I applaud BB for cutting his losses and not placing any particular value on draft position. Despite being a talented No. 2 selection, Dawson was prone to injury and did not put forth the effort needed to make the roster. I know BB gave him every opportunity, so I do not put the blame on Bill. And kudos to all the non-drafted free agents that make the team each year. That says a lot in itself. What say you?

Rick Malec

I'll start by saying Belichick is the best coach in football and perhaps of all time, so there's no one I'd rather have leading my team. I'll continue by saying you are giving him a free pass here. First you say there's no one better at assessing talent. You follow that up by saying always achieves more with less. Well, if he's the best at assessing talent he shouldn't be forced to do more with less. Dawson pulled a hamstring in his first training camp. He's been healthy since. I'm not sure that makes him prone to injury, as you said. Clearly drafting college players and projecting them at the NFL level is not an easy task. Belichick is very good at it, but that doesn't mean we have to make excuses for picks like this that don't work. Dawson was not as talented as his draft status indicated, simple as that.

Paul Perillo

Brian Hoyer is highly underrated. If Tom Brady went down, Hoyer could take over as Matt Cassel did a while back when Brady went down. It's about the coaching more than the quarterback. One must have a good quarterback. Hoyer fits the bill for Belichick. A good coach gets the most from a team. Look at last year's stats. A lot of teams were close in stats to the Patriots (team stats). However their records were nowhere near the Patriots.

Ray Zabel

Hoyer is a consummate professional as a backup quarterback and although I was surprised with how much money he got in Indianapolis (a reported $9 million in guarantees over three years) I'm not surprised he wasn't out of work long. Hoyer does a nice job of preparing the defense each week as part of the scout team, and by all accounts he was helpful to both Brady and rookie Jarrett Stidham in their respective roles. I'm not sure what stats you are referring to from last year but there were six teams with records better than or equal to the Patriots 11-5 mark last year and another four that finished just one game back at 10-6. The difference between the Patriots and most of those other teams is not just Belichick. It's Belichick and Brady, the best coach-quarterback combo in the history of the game. Just think back to the overtime in Kansas City in the AFC title game. You think Brian Hoyer would have converted those three third-and-longs in OT to keep that drive alive? No disrespect to Hoyer, but those throws are what Brady has built his magnificent career on. Please let's not diminish his greatness by comparing Hoyer to him and claiming Belichick is responsible for all the winning.

Paul Perillo

How does Perillo feel about getting his Hoyer prediction wrong?

Mark Messer

Actually, I feel pretty good about it. Here is what I wrote on Friday:

Quarterback (3)

Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

I've gone back and forth all summer on this and I've settled on keeping all three. Stidham played well in the preseason but Hoyer's experience likely allows him to stick around as the top backup. He was credited for his preparation work last year and that likely will be a large part of the reason if he sticks this time around as well. This one could go either way.

Based on Belichick's comments on Sunday, I believe the move in fact could have gone either way. Overall, I feel pretty good about my final roster projection.

Paul Perillo

I am struggling with a cut-down issue. It seemed clear after the second preseason game that Olszewski was going to be worth saving, at least to the practice squad. However, since there were six WR (plus Slater) clearly ahead of him, that left only the PS as an option. Why would we showcase him as much as we did in the next two games and thereby make him more well-known and attractive for the other 31 teams to claim him after cut down, denying us the opportunity to get him through waivers and onto our PS. After the first two games, we had a great chance of Gunner clearing waivers, but not so IMO after the final two games. We ended up deciding to cut him and then, at the last minute, cutting Thomas instead who had a great game 4. How do we now reclaim Thomas without putting Gunner through waivers, as we cannot (will not) retain seven WR? Wouldn't it have been prudent to have kept Gunner out of the limelight after game 2? Your thoughts.

Tony Tauro

Well, Thomas is indeed now back and N'Keal Harry went to IR to make room for him. But I'll address your point about Olszewski instead. Clearly it was a difficult choice for Belichick as he reportedly went back and forth himself on Saturday. I don't feel Olszewski was anywhere near close to solidifying a spot midway through the preseason. He just kept improving each day on the practice field and that was evident during the games as well. Actually it wasn't until the third game when he was solid returning punts that I opened my mind to the possibility that could stick, much like Riley McCarron did last year as the punt returner. So I feel Belichick was right to keep playing him in order to further his development. And it all worked out in the end.

Paul Perillo

Does the elevation of Jarrett Stidham say anything about the plans of the Patriots regarding Tom Brady? It seems to me that this tends to indicate they anticipate bringing Brady back until his retirement. If they have that much confidence in Stidham, then I think they would want him to be mentored by Brady for a couple of years. What are your thoughts?

Francis Friel

High Ridge, Missouri

I'm not sure it says much of anything with regard to Brady but it speaks volumes about their feelings toward Stidham. Belichick must have been impressed with his play this summer to cut Hoyer and keep him as the only backup. Brady hasn't been hurt often during his career but that's still a lot of responsibility for a rookie. I've always felt that Brady would be back next year regardless and this move doesn't change that at all. Stidham could indeed be the heir apparent to Brady, but we still have no idea when that might be. Assuming I'm correct and Brady is back in 2020, it will be interesting to see what his contract situation is and how it might affect Stidham's development. At that point we might start to see how the coaches view things moving forward.

Paul Perillo

Do you ever envision that overtime would give each team an opportunity to score from the 50-yard line instead of a random coin toss? Except in this overtime, if a team scores a TD, they would be required to go for the two-point conversion. (No extra points in overtime). Two-point conversions are much more exciting than the extra point.

Art Wallace

I don't envision that happening but I haven't seen it suggested before either. It's a little like the current college version where teams take over at the 25 and are forced to go for 2 on the third OT. I like the 50 better since it at least forces the offense to mount a drive of some sort. But honestly, I feel the current NFL version is the best way to do things. Kickoff, followed by actual football. With no gimmicks.

Paul Perillo

I'm glad to see Jerod Mayo taking over the defensive play calling, whether BB wants to admit it or not. He has the smarts and the cachet with the players and was always considered a disciple of Belichick when he was a team captain. My question is with the D-ine coach Bret Bielema. I recall hearing chatter around the time that Brian Flores was appointed HC in Miami that Bret was telling people he was next in line to become the defensive coordinator. Do you think BB got upset about this and put Bret in his place by promoting Mayo instead. You know how much BB hates revealing anything to the press and Bret touting that he was next in line to become D coordinator is tantamount to putting yourself in the BB doghouse.

Alan Bernstein

I do recall there being some chatter about Bielema perhaps telling people that, and it true I could see this upsetting Belichick. I'm not sure it would lead him to react the way you explain but I wouldn't rule it out either. I feel the identity of the defensive play caller is one of the more overblown stories of the summer. I admit the loss of so many coaches is a big story; I just don't think it's worth all the worrying it has led to. Belichick has dealt with losses before and has been willing to devote more time to one side of the ball or the other in the past. I feel he'll do that with defense this year and with Mayo and Bielema here he'll figure things out.

Paul Perillo

You guys are the worst announcers just like all others. So biased to your team. No analysis to other team. I had to mute you as I was watching Giants vs Pats otherwise I would go crazy! Get a life, it's not about you and Brady!

Donald Bucci

Yes, the broadcast on the Patriots Preseason Football Network was in fact biased toward the Patriots. Go figure. Just as the Giants broadcast with Bob Papa and Carl Banks was biased toward the Giants. It wasn't a nationally televised game by the regular networks, who are supposed to be impartial in their broadcasts. We are the Patriots network and are catering to Patriots fans who are watching and trying to figure out which players are going to make the roster and fill specific roles for the Patriots. We're not concerned with how the Giants depth chart is going to shake out. Sorry.

Paul Perillo

The ideal TE would be Dallas Goedert I don't know what it would take but with all those picks NE has I'm sure they could swing it. What's your take on Goedert?

Steve Mejorado

The Eagles offense is heavily reliant on two tight end sets with Zach Ertz and Goedert, so I'd say there's no way Philly would entertain trades for someone so important to their success. Goedert is a solid pass-catching tight end who is entering his second season. Why would the Eagles give up on such a talented player who is so affordable on his rookie contract? I like the idea of grabbing such a player but Goedert would appear to be an unreasonable target.

Paul Perillo

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