A few leftover questions from the weekly Sportsnation Patriots chat we didn't get to:
Chris P (Toledo): I'm happy with our offensive line, but feel a quality center is really the boost Tom Brady would need. Less pressure = more time for receivers to get open. I don't know if a starter could be had in the draft this year. Any thoughts on a FA center?
Chris, outside of Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack (transition tag), one free-agent of note is Evan Dietrich-Smith of the Green Bay Packers. One question to ask would be, "How much of an upgrade would Dietrich-Smith be over moving Dan Connolly back to center, and possibly inserting Marcus Cannon/Josh Kline at right guard. Sometimes the solutions are in-house. Connolly has played a solid center position in the past.
Daniel (Fresno, CA): I'd rather have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at this point. He may not be as good as Aqib Talib (when healthy), but he's on the field when needed. Also sounds like he'd come cheaper. Your thoughts?
Daniel, all things being equal contract-wise, I'd lean heavier toward Talib. Just think he's a better player. But if the terms for Talib reach a level that doesn't work for the Patriots, I don't think Rodgers-Cromartie is a bad fallback option at a cheaper rate/shorter term if that's what the market dictates. One concern I'd have about going long-term/big-money with Rodgers-Cromartie is that as a team you don't have any background/much certainty with him on how he approaches his craft, how he'd fit in the locker room etc. It's a little riskier to me in that regard.
Daniel, I do believe the Patriots will make a bid to retain Edelman. They want him back, but like most every negotiation, it comes down to "at what cost?" As I understand it, Edelman wanted the opportunity to see what offers were out there, which he can do in the three days leading up to the start of free agency. Then he can compare those offers to what the Patriots have in mind. That's where we are right now.
Dominic (Broomfield, CO): Mike, I love Vince Wilfork, I do. But your logic is odd. You say don't release him because he's everything the team embodies. Then you say 2009 lacked leadership because Wilfork (who was supposed to be a leader) wasn't and it showed his frustration openly by having the sign in his locker ...
Dominic, I understand the confusion as I didn't go deep enough into the discussion as it relates to 2009. This was a hot-button topic in our chats and mailbags in '09/'10 as I shared my opinion that part of the reason the '09 locker room wasn't in a great place was because the person who was supposed to be leading (Wilfork) wasn't put in the best position to do so because he was at odds with management over his contract. Some might counter and say, "A real leader would put that to the side and lead anyway." Fair enough, but that's easier for some people to do than others and Wilfork, in my opinion, isn't wired that way. Thus, when factoring in that human element, I thought the team miscalculated in that area that year. As we spin it forward, if you take Wilfork out of the locker room this year or he's not happy about a reworked contract, I have wondered if the Patriots might be creating the same type of '09 situation. But as I think it through, they have more established leaders in the room in 2014 (Mayo, McCourty) than they probably did in 2009, so maybe it wouldn't be as much of an issue. I hope that clears it up.