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Patriots Offseason Needs

Postby The Lung » Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:26 am

From Fanball: http://www.fanball.com/fb/article.cfm/ID.9089/Football

By Christian Peterson, Senior Editor
Patriots Offseason Needs
Our team-by-team look at the offseason continues with the AFC East champion Patriots, whose legions of fans are presumably still alive and kicking despite the fact their heroes went belly-up in the AFC title game… at the hands of none other than Peyton Manning.

Areas of Need: The Best Quarterback to Ever Roam the Earth doesn't require a top notch set of wide receivers to do his thing, but 2006 proved even Tom Brady can't make chicken soup out of chicken, um, poo. After losing David Givens and Deion Branch, the team turned to free agent acquisition Reche Caldwell and a cast of thousands that included, at one point or another, Doug Gabriel, rookie Chad Jackson, Troy Brown, and Jabar Gaffney. While Caldwell and Gaffney had their moments, a season-long battle with inconsistency (not to mention Reche's two inconceivable drops in the AFC Championship game) proved this team could use a serious kick in the pants out wide.

Tight end Daniel Graham is an unrestricted free agent and, while the team would like to keep him, they also prepared for his absence by selecting two tight ends within the first four rounds of last year's draft. Ben Watson and Dave Thomas played well in 2006, but Graham will be a priority if he can be kept at a decent price.

Considering he spent the entire year lugging a Steinway & Sons on his back, Corey Dillon handed in a remarkable season. After scoring at least a dozen touchdowns for the third straight season in New England, however, it's unclear if the aging veteran will be back with the Patriots next year. Dillon would cost the Pats $4.4 million against the 2007 salary cap unless they renegotiate, which seems like the only way Corey would return given the presence of Laurence Maroney in the same backfield. The Patriots play hardball with their salary cap and have never been shy about letting veteran players walk, rather than paying exorbitant dollars to keep them around. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on this situation, as it will have huge ramifications on Maroney, and in turn within the top 10 of the 2007 running back rankings.

The Patriots will almost certainly devote most of their offseason attention to the defense, particularly the linebacker position and the defensive secondary. At this point, it's unclear if Tedy Bruschi will return for another season. Ditto for Junior Seau, who is too old and fragile to be counted on even if he does come back. Tully Banta-Cain came from out of nowhere to post a solid season that will likely earn him multi-millions somewhere else this offseason, which leaves only Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin as locks to return in the middle. At safety, Rodney Harrison is expected back, but is old and injury-prone (sensing a pattern here?), while cornerback Asante Samuel could be the most sought-after free agent on the open market after his breakout 2006 season. The Pats are unlikely to pay for his services, unless they opt to slap the franchise tag on him, which would carry with it a $7.79 million price tag, according to NFLPA figures.

Help is on the Way? According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the Patriots will be $30.4 million under the salary cap going into the offseason, which is good enough to rank them among the 10 teams with the most space with which to maneuver.

Gaffney and Caldwell showed enough in 2006 that they'll probably be back. Jackson could provide a huge boost if he can stay healthy and start delivering on the promise that made him a second-round draft pick a year ago. A weak free agent receiver class that includes the likes of Drew Bennett, Patrick Crayton, and D.J. Hackett is far from attractive, which means the Pats could use one of their two first-round draft picks (they own the Nos. 24 and 28 picks) on a receiver like LSU's Dwayne Bowe.

Don't be surprised, however, if both first-rounders are spent to address the significant areas of need on defense.

Given the glaring holes in the middle, some early mock drafts have predicted the Patriots to take linebackers with both first-rounders. Players like Jarvis Moss of Florida, Patrick Willis of Ole Miss, and Paul Posluszny of Penn State would make a lot of sense. As it relates to free agency, some have suggested Bears linebacker Lance Briggs might be a target, but his skillset doesn't fit well with the Patriots 3-4 defensive scheme and there is growing sentiment that the Bears might hit Briggs with the franchise tag. Other free agent options include Adalius Thomas and Na'il Diggs.

Losing Samuel would hurt, but Belichick has proven a master of piecing his secondary together with street free agents, late-round draft picks, and even veteran wide receivers. In 2006, the team once again fought through a rash of injuries and still wound up leading the NFL with a league-low 10 passing touchdowns allowed. The Pats believe 2005 third-rounder Ellis Hobbs can continue to develop into an elite corner on one side, and they were happy with the play of second-year man James Sanders at safety when Harrison missed a handful of games last season. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if they pursue a free agent like Eagles' safety Michael Lewis. Other options would be Ken Hamlin and Deion Grant, and the Pats will almost certainly stock up on young defensive backs in the draft as well.
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Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:35 pm

Pretty good article- I'd like Dwayne Bowe if he is there at our 2nd 1st rd pick.
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Postby APAP » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:58 pm

Dwayne Bowe is a guy I really hope they can get. It looks like no Stallworth or Moss, so he's a solid option, and he's a big dude. For me, the perfect first round would be S Michael Griffin and WR Dwayne Bowe. I don't know if Griffin falls that far, in which case I would be very, very happy with Willis, or even J. Moss as the article said. I guess we'll just see.
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Postby The Lung » Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:16 pm

From: http://www.fanball.com/fb/article.cfm/ID.9703/Football

By Jason Powell, Senior Editor

Patriots Draft Preview

Wants and Needs: The Patriots have a collection of questionable wide receivers. Reche Caldwell was a playoff disappointment. Newcomer Donte' Stallworth is injury prone. Wes Welker is a solid No. 3 receiver and kick return specialist, but we don't consider him a starter. Kelley Washington, Jabar Gaffney, and second-year receiver Chad Jackson are unproven commodities. The Pats have plenty of receivers, but the question marks surrounding them might be enough to make team officials seek out more help via the draft. The departure of Corey Dillon might lead the Pats to seek out depth behind starter Laurence Maroney, but we don't consider this a big enough problem to address in round one. The offensive line is fairly young, but teams are always looking for depth up front. The bigger holes are on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel are both on the wrong side of age 30. Granted, the addition of Adalius Thomas was a big help, but the Patriots play a 3-4 scheme and can never have enough linebackers. Team officials filled a need at cornerback by signing free agent Tory James. However, they are still squabbling over money with starter Asante Samuel, who has threatened to hold out if he does not receive a long-term deal. Starting safety Rodney Harrison has missed 19 games due to injuries over the last two seasons and is entering his 14th season.

Potential Selections: With two first-round picks, the Patriots certainly have the flexibility to move up in the draft. However, there isn't much buzz about a potential move, nor is there any talk that head coach Bill Belichick and ace personnel man Scott Pioli have fallen in love with any particular players. They would probably like to see Florida safety Reggie Nelson fall to them, but that's probably too much to ask for given that teams such as the Panthers, Packers, and Jaguars – which all pick ahead of New England – may also be shopping for safeties. Keep in mind that Belichick is tight with Florida head coach Urban Meyer and has been known to covet his players. Michael Griffin is more likely to be available if the Patriots stay put. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons could be a candidate with either pick. Although we consider Jon Beason more of a second-round prospect, the Pats have gone against the grain before. Offensive linemen Joe Staley, Aaron Sears, and Justin Blalock should be available for consideration. There are also a plethora of wideouts such as Dwayne Jarrett, Dwayne Bowe, and Robert Meachem slated to go in the mid- to late first round.

New England's Picks:
Round One: 24th overall (from Seahawks), 28th overall
Round Two: No pick (traded to Dolphins)
Round Three: 91st overall
Round Four: 127th overall
Round Five: 171st overall (compensatory selection)
Round Six: 180th overall (from Cardinals), 202nd overall, 208th overall (compensatory selection), 209th overall (compensatory selection)
Round Seven: 247th overall (compensatory selection)
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Postby JStein » Sat May 19, 2007 11:47 pm

APAP wrote:Dwayne Bowe is a guy I really hope they can get. It looks like no Stallworth or Moss, so he's a solid option, and he's a big dude. For me, the perfect first round would be S Michael Griffin and WR Dwayne Bowe. I don't know if Griffin falls that far, in which case I would be very, very happy with Willis, or even J. Moss as the article said. I guess we'll just see.

My how perceptions change :)
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Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Fri May 25, 2007 11:07 pm

JStein wrote:
APAP wrote:Dwayne Bowe is a guy I really hope they can get. It looks like no Stallworth or Moss, so he's a solid option, and he's a big dude. For me, the perfect first round would be S Michael Griffin and WR Dwayne Bowe. I don't know if Griffin falls that far, in which case I would be very, very happy with Willis, or even J. Moss as the article said. I guess we'll just see.

My how perceptions change :)
:-b
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