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Ask PFW: Feeling the draft

Posted Apr 9, 2013

With the draft now just a few weeks away "Ask PFW" is delving deeper and deeper into the various possibilities.

Understanding the cap calculations is something only an accountant could love. I am not an accountant, but what happens to a team like Washington (over by $340K) or St Louis (under by $830K) when the draft happens. Since rookie salaries are slotted, the cap should be well understood. Can they lose picks as a result? Can they be in a situation of not being able to sign their picks because of the cap? Does this mean we can expect a medium to high-priced veteran to be released on teams with less than $4 million of cap space? I thought the cap was a hard thing, so how can Washington be allowed to be over? At what point in time does a team have to be under?
Michael S.

Teams are not ever allowed to be over the cap. During the offseason, the top 51 salaries on a team need to be below the cap in order for a team to be in compliance. Draft picks often are not signed until around training camp, so teams have plenty of time to get in compliance if they are close to the limit at this point. Players restructure deals all the time to free up space, and it’s rare that players are released strictly for cap purposes today. While many that get let go are often referred to as cap casualties, most teams boot players they no longer want rather than afford. Money obviously factors into the equation, but most if not all players that remain valuable to their teams can be retained with a little effort. More often than not when a player is let go it’s because the team doesn’t view him as worth the price.
Paul Perillo

OK, so let’s talk about what the Patriots need most. Their defense was ranked 26th against the pass, so should they get a corner? The best ones aren’t in free agency anymore. So if they want to draft one it will have to be in the first round. But a defensive tackle would help too. John Abraham is still in the free agent market and could really help the secondary out. But with the loss of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd being released and Julian Edelman not being re-signed yet, if ever, the need for a wide receiver is incredibly large. If Lloyd and Edelman are re-signed than that need will be mostly gone with Michael Jenkins, Danny Amendola and Donald Jones at wide receiver could give Tom Brady a good set of targets. But if they don't resign them the Patriots will have to draft a wide receiver. So what is more important, receiver, corner or linemen? And what is the first step? Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think.
Jackson Belva

I don’t view receiver as the big problem area that most others … provided that Rob Gronkowski is OK and ready to go at the start of the season. With Amendola, Jones, Jenkins and most likely Edelman at wide receiver and Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jake Ballard and possibly Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells at tight end, Brady should have more than enough options. And I would think Bill Belichick would draft a receiver under this scenario as well. To me, the two biggest needs are cornerback and pass rusher. I’d go corner first but whichever had the best player available would be fine with me. Tommy Kelly gives them another defensive tackle so I wouldn’t make that a huge priority at this point. I want two of the first three picks to be used on defense with a wide receiver thrown in. But we all know a trade will likely come and put a wrinkle on all of our plans.
Paul Perillo

You guys have blown me off before, but the latest news about the great Gronk is expected. Why not trade him to the Broncos so come playoff time he is unable to play?
Jimbo Johnson

Maybe I’m being guilty of taking the company line here but I don’t view Gronkowski as the big health risk that he’s portrayed as. He broke his arm and came back too quickly, and broke it again. These things happen. Prior to that he hadn’t missed a game in his first two and a half seasons. Now he has an infection, reportedly, that may require additional surgery. Do we really want to give away a potential Hall of Fame talent because he has an infection in his arm? I certainly don’t, and I bet Belichick doesn’t either. The only help we’re going to give Denver this year is Welker. They can’t have Gronk too.
Paul Perillo

Hi Andy and Paul, Thank you for taking my question. Why aren't people seeing how signing either TO or Randy Moss or even both couldn't hurt the team? Yes, they had attitude problems, but then you say "get out" if it comes to that. I feel like both men want to keep playing the sport they love and were (are still?) DARN GREAT at it. They would not garner much interest in teams elsewhere and would be PENNIES against the cap. They would improve their otherwise production with TB12 throwing them the pigskin, and provide inspiration and experience to mentor the younger guys. They both want a ring and I bet are willing to work hard for one. There is probably a zero percent chance of this happening though right? Is it wrong for me to fantasize the upside of this working?
Stephen Wu

I think signing one of these two would be disastrous. First, neither is capable of playing at a high level at this point. Moss did virtually nothing for the Niners last year and TO couldn’t find a job. Both have slowed significantly and neither was ever considered much of a team player. What happens if you sign one and things go well for a while, and then suddenly the attitude problems start to show? You say release him, but where does that leave your offense. What if Brady has come to rely on Moss or TO and now they’re gone? That could be a problem. To be sure I’d be willing to take that chance if I thought either could still play. I don’t think that’s the case, and therefore I’m not interested regardless of price.
Paul Perillo

With the lack of significant depth at defensive back on the Patriots roster, what do you guys think of signing a guy like Charles Woodson? He's obviously not the player he once was (he's 37 years old) but I think at the right price (somewhere close to the veteran minimum) the Pats should kick the tires on the old man. He can play corner or safety and no one can deny his playmaking ability.
Dustin Michaud

Woodson was a great player but his best days are well behind him. At this point I’d rather draft a defensive back and work with Tavon Wilson and Alfonzo Dennard. With Dennard, Aqib Talib and Kyle Arringtonplus Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Adrian Wilson and Tavon Wilson, the Patriots secondary has the potential to be improved. Add a draft pick to the mix and maybe things don’t look so bad. Woodson probably isn’t an upgrade over that group at this point in his career.
Paul Perillo

Love the show, listen to it every week here in Tokyo, Japan. I have a quick question for you and the guys at Patriots Radio. What position would you guys like to see the Patriots draft in the first round? I feel that taking another shot on a CB would be the best choice. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on this but it seems that most would rather a WR be picked up in the first round instead. I would agree with this as long as we know Dennard is not going to prison. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks
Carl Reynolds

I agree with you Carl. I think corner should be the top priority. Defense in general has to be a bigger need than anything on offense. Until the Patriots find a way to consistently stop anyone I don’t believe they’ll win the Super Bowl. I’d like to see Belichick add to that side of the ball like he did last year. If there’s a wide receiver they like in the second or third round then take a shot then. But corner or pass rusher would be my top choices in the first round.
Paul Perillo

What are your thoughts on Aaron Dobson out of Marshall? He ran a 4.42 at his pro day and can out-muscle just about anyone for the ball. Plus he had 0 drops in 92 targets last year. I think he could be a big weapon for the offense.
Zack Ross

Dobson is a solid prospect and I would think would be a candidate in the second or third round. Personally, I didn’t love him. He does have great hands and made one of the best catches I’ve ever seen in one of the plays I watched on tape. But overall I came away unimpressed with his routes and he didn’t play against a high level of competition in Conference USA. Like I said, he’s solid but not spectacular. I wouldn’t be irate if the Patriots picked him but I feel there will be better options in the second round like Terrence Williams, Markus Wheaton, Quinton Patton and Da’Rick Rogers.
Paul Perillo

Hey Tyler Bradshaw here from small town Pryor, Oklahoma. Love all the work you guys do. I read this every week. So here’s a few questions. 1. As a big time Pats fan I want more than anything to see them get back to and win the Super Bowl. What is one move the Pats can make in your opinion that would push them over the top and get them a ring? 2. Are we or the Broncos the favorites out of the AFC? 3. Should the Pats use their first-round draft pick on a wideout who can play outside the numbers or someone who can strengthen the secondary? Thanks and love ya long time!
Tyler Bradshaw

Thanks for the nice words, Tyler. You offer some interesting questions and I’ll try my best to answer. The toughest one is the first – what move could push the Patriots over the top? Trying to stay realistic and avoid the temptation to say something like trade a seventh-round pick for J.J. Watt. In terms of reality, my one move isn’t really a move but more of a development. If Chandler Jones makes a significant jump this year and becomes a legitimate double-digit sack guy I believe the Patriots defense could improve to the point where it could push the team over the top. I believe Denver and New England will once again be the favorites and right now I’d give the Patriots a slight edge because the Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil and he was a key component on defense. Of course, both teams will add plenty of new parts between now and the start of the season. And I’d go with the secondary in the first round of the draft.
Paul Perillo

Hey guys, what free agents are still available that you think would be the best fit for the Pats at WR, DE and CB? Thanks
Mike Anderson

In terms of the three positions you mention, defensive end would have the most options. In addition to the two players the Patriots have spoken with – John Abraham and Dwight Freeney – there are a couple other pass rushing options. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison is a smaller outside linebacker type and would be a long shot at best given his volatility and size. Chicago’s Israel Idonije is also available, although reports indicate the Bears could re-sign him. There aren’t many options at corner beyond 37-year-old Charles Woodson, and his days as a corner are likely over. Antoine Winfield visited Seattle, but as of this writing was a still a free agent. There really aren’t any wide receivers available, unless you want to re-sign Brandon Lloyd and I’m not in that camp.
Paul Perillo

How big of an impact do you think Tommy Kelly will have. Could he start?
Mike Poland

Kelly certainly could start next to Vince Wilfork but I believe the more likely scenario would see him playing more of a part-time role in sub situations the way the Patriots hoped to use Jonathan Fanene last year. Kelly is capable of collapsing the pocket occasionally from the inside and that’s something the defensive line has lacked in recent seasons. He’s been a solid player for many years but he’s also getting a bit long in the tooth. With that in mind I’d like to see the Patriots use him sparingly in an effort to keep him fresh and productive. In the right role I believe he could be of value.
Paul Perillo

I know this year we have the fewest draft picks of recent years. How are we at this point for 2014? How many and where are they as it stands now?
Anthony Florkoski

As of today the Patriots have all seven of their picks – one in each round – for the 2014 draft.
Paul Perillo

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