Digesting a few leftovers from Tuesday's Patriots mailbag:
David (North Attleboro, Mass): Because DE Markell Carter was paid more than the practice squad minimum to try to keep him from going another teams active roster, some fans feel he could make the team. Who are some of the players the Patriots have done this with before?
David, quite a few players fall into this category. The Patriots invest a lot in the practice squad, and you see raises for players annually as a season progresses. One recent example that comes to mind is offensive lineman Ryan Wendell. He had opportunities to go elsewhere, decided to stay, and he has since been rewarded for that with a promotion to the active roster and contract extension.
Matthew N. (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ): Mike, any idea when the public portions of training camp are going to be? I am heading up to a Red Sox game on Sunday, Aug. 5 and would love to go to training camp for a day or two.
Matthew, nothing has been announced, but you give yourself a good chance by coming to town that weekend. If we estimate that training camp starts around Thursday, July 26, usually there is a string of consecutive practices (maybe for about 6-7 days) before a day off, then a return to practice. You could hit it just right. That should be the period when training camp practices are still open to the public.
Matt (Scarborough, ME): Mike, I've been thinking about the roster, more specifically the d-line and where Ron Brace fits. The team seems short on the 34 end/43 tackle types so I was wondering your thoughts. Also, I seem to remember reading something about Brace and how he starts slow. In high school and in college it took him some time to really come on, so maybe if he can stay healthy from the get go, he can become a good player. Thoughts?
Matt, I wasn't aware of the "starting slow" aspect of Brace's career, pre-Patriots. My feeling is that at this point, entering his fourth season, you know what you have in Brace. We've seen him play 34 nose, 34 end, 43 tackle, and sub rusher, and I think his best fit is 34 left end in this scheme. Given his rare size, I can see why the team would maybe have a longer leash for him than with others (e.g. CB Darius Butler), but it just seems like it hasn't fully come together for him over his first three seasons. We've seen flashes (forced fumble in Denver last season), but not at the consistent level Bill Belichick desires. I view him as being on the roster bubble this year.
Pete (Boston, Mass): Mike, with the depth at receiver, I feel like you're counting out the possibility of a Julian Edelman trade. I understand his intangibles are hard to match, but how long are we to assume he'll play the role of backup receiver when KR/PR is replaceable and less important since last year's rule changes? Further, I'm not sure about his contract, but I would think he'll get larger offers and more playing time elsewhere should he chose to test the market. So why not get some value for him now?
Pete, Edelman's contract expires after the 2012 season. In a situation like this, the question I ask is this: Would the player's trade value trump his value to the team? I don't see another team giving up more than a late-round draft choice for Edelman at this point, and so my feeling is that Edelman has greater value to the Patriots as a slot-receiver-in-waiting and top punt returner than a late-round pick.
Jim L (Spencer, Mass): How can the Patriots pay Chad Ochocinco $6 million for 15 catches, then complain about Wes Welker wanting to be fairly compensated for outplaying his contract for the past five years?
Jim, I think the answer right now is that they made a mistake with Ochocinco. Trading two late-round draft picks and then agreeing to a contract restructure with Ochocinco that paid him a total of $6 million in 2011 (combining signing bonus and base salary) hasn't produced the desired return on investment. That said, I'm not sure how much Ochocinco's situation has to do with Welker's, as one would think the team would sign Welker to that type of deal tomorrow if he agreed to it.
Noodle (Arlington, Va.): Do you think there is an NFL team (other than the Patriots) that would give Welker a multi-year guaranteed deal that would make him one of the top 10 most highly paid wide receivers? If so, what team?
That sounds like the type of move the Jets might strongly consider, if it was ever an option to them. This is pure speculation on my part, but I do think Rex Ryan has a lot of respect for Welker as a player.