Quick-hit thoughts from around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. As of late last week, nine of the 14 players who were assigned the franchise tag by NFL teams have signed it. Logan Mankins isn’t one of them, which isn’t a big surprise based on these comments made by his agent, Frank Bauer.
2. I thought Saints running back Pierre Thomas, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency, might have been a target for the Patriots. But he can be scratched off the list after re-signing with New Orleans last week.
3. Could the Patriots be interested in Raiders offensive lineman Robert Gallery as a free agent? That was a question some had after Gallery said last week that he won’t be back in Oakland. My feeling is that Gallery will probably be out of the financial ballpark the Patriots will be willing to go. On a related note, in 2004, I remember Bill Belichick saying that he would have picked Gallery No. 1 in the draft, and that Gallery could play in any scheme.
4. When it comes to the NFL’s labor battle, I had thought that owners would eventually have the upper-hand because the players have a larger group that would be harder to keep together. But right now, it looks like most of the leverage is on the players’ side.
5. Sometimes you just get a feeling about a coach based on his presence. I got a positive one from listening to, and watching, first-year San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at the NFL Combine.
6. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is scheduled to travel overseas with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick this week as part of the “Massachusetts Innovation Economy Partnership Mission 2011 to Israel and the United Kingdom.” Kraft is one of the higher-power NFL owners, and this means he won’t be in the negotiating room as the NFL and the NFL Players Association come down to the wire in labor talks.
7. You've already studied the Patriots' 2011 schedule if you knew that the team's road game against the Redskins will mark just the third time in franchise history that the team has played a regular-season game in Washington.
8. Former Patriots tight end Daniel Graham was released last week after four years in Denver. Graham’s situation reminds me a little bit of Alge Crumpler’s. Teams looking for a solid blocking tight end that also provides leadership should have interest in Graham – who enters his 10th NFL season -- on a short-term deal.
9. The Packers signed coach Mike McCarthy to a contract extension last week. When I think of McCarthy, one of the first things that comes to mind is how his hire in 2006 looked underwhelming on the surface. McCarthy had been in San Francisco as offensive coordinator and the 49ers’ offense was ranked 32nd in 2005. Just goes to show that statistical production isn’t always an accurate barometer for head-coaching success.
10. Unless the Patriots don’t think offensive lineman Nick Kaczur’s injured back is getting better, I don’t see the benefit to cutting him now because of his $3.4 million base salary. Kaczur has had a lot of production and the Patriots have quite a few holes on the line of scrimmage, so that $3.4 million could just as easily be viewed as a solid insurance policy.