AFC East mailbag on your cyberdoormat

Rob in Arlington, Va., doesn't like how the Patriots have approached the offseason compared to how active the Jets have been. Rob writes "I know it seems ridiculous to say, but aren't the Patriots basically just conceding the division in March?"

Whether you see the AFC runner-up Jets as pulling away from the Patriots, or the 9-7 Jets gaining ground on the defending AFC East champion Patriots, I'm not convinced there's been that much difference in what each club has done so far. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, however, thinks Patriots fans should be concerned.

The Jets have made the splashier moves, trading for cornerback Antonio Cromartie and signing free-agent back LaDainian Tomlinson. Granted, the Cromartie acquisition was an inspired maneuver that could give the Jets the NFL's top cornerback tandem. But I don't believe Tomlinson is a significant upgrade over Thomas Jones, and the Jets have gotten weaker at safety by trading Kerry Rhodes.

The Patriots have concentrated on re-signing their own players, but they're biggies: franchise nose tackle Vince Wilfork, sacks leader Tully Banta-Cain, cornerback Leigh Bodden and running back Kevin Faulk. Those are core players.

So I would advise Patriots fans not to freak out, and I would advise Jets fans not to get too carried away in the spring.

Jud it Utica, N.Y., wants to know if I saw the renewal reminder the Bills sent out to their season-ticket holders.

For those who haven't seen it, the ad features an unfortunate photo of Brian Moorman punting out of his own end zone against the Browns, an atrocious game the Bills lost 6-3 in overtime in Week 5. The personalized message includes the ticket holder's name and "awaiting your return."

FanHouse writer Pat McManamon exchanged e-mails with Bills executive marketing director Andy Major, who explained the photo simply "was one of our best that included the scoreboard in the background."

My thoughts are that the Bills probably wanted to incorporate a scoreboard shot, thinking it was cool to put the season-ticket holder's name "in lights" and came up with a nice play on words about returning. Maybe a better option would be to use a shot of rookie safety Jairus Byrd, who tied for the NFL lead in interception returns.

Kevin in Lafayette, N.J., is one of many readers who wants to know what the Dolphins plan on doing at receiver. Dan in Syracuse is among a group who wonders if the Dolphins will trade for Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall.

If I'd kept track of questions since my AFC East mailbag opened in the summer of 2008, by far and away the most frequently asked would pertain to what the Dolphins intend to do at receiver.

The Dolphins know they need another receiver. What's stopping them is the front office's belief receivers are overvalued in the current market. The Dolphins have been reluctant to pay the going rate, whether it be in dollars (for a free agent) or draft assets (in a trade).

Where this offseason could be different is they now have a quarterback with an arm that can test defenses deep. Chad Henne played last year with a receiving corps assembled with Chad Pennington in mind. The Dolphins might be ready to open it up this year now that they have a quarterback who can manufacture big plays with the right personnel. Henne recently dropped hints that he wants another receiver.

Do the Dolphins go after Marshall? I'm confident they've checked into it, but after two years of tracking their inability or unwillingness to procure a fearsome receiver so far -- window shopping for Braylon Edwards last year or declining to get into trade talks with the Cardinals for Anquan Boldin a few weeks ago -- my frame of mind is such that I'll be stunned if they ever get somebody.

Kevin in Chesapeake, Va., takes note of a Rumor Central item about the Jets acquiring Marshall in a trade that would involve Edwards. Kevin supports that trade and wonders whether the rumor has any basis in fact.

A week ago, National Football Post insider Michael Lombardi wrote the Jets were considering whether it would be worth their while to pursue a trade for Marshall. That report quickly became an Internet brush fire that suggested the Jets were in serious talks.

A Jets source informed me later that day there was no substance to the Marshall gossip. Similar dismissals were reported by the New York papers and the Associated Press. That said, a lot can change in a week. With most of the owners, general managers and coaches convening for the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., for the next few days, you never know where the conversations could lead.

Andrew from Geneva, N.Y., wants to know what the Bills' linebacking corps will look like now that they've signed free-agent inside linebacker Andra Davis.

That's an excellent question, Andrew, and one I hope to gain some insight about from Bills coach Chan Gailey on Tuesday morning. He's scheduled to be available for a media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings.

It's a little difficult to project the Bills' defense for next year because they are switching to a 3-4 scheme. Most of their roster was put together for the Tampa 2-style 4-3 defense the Bills ran under former coach Dick Jauron. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny will remain inside, of course, but what of Kawika Mitchell? Does Mitchell remain inside or move outside? Can defensive ends Aaron Schobel (if he doesn't retire), Chris Kelsay and Aaron Maybin play outside linebacker?

A lot of questions must be answered, but it will take months to learn the answers.