Exploring some hot topics around the New England Patriots in a weekly mailbag:
John, while the Patriots have a good number of receivers on their current roster, part of the reason they manage their salary cap with such discipline is to be well positioned to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. This could be one of them, although I do not know how they view the possibility. While Dez Bryant might not be the same player he was earlier in his career, he still totaled 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns last year. The other layer is what Bryant's own motivations are. If he's looking for maximum dollars, my sense is that wouldn't fit with the Patriots. But if he was willing to take a short-term contract at around $4 million per season (aligned with top-paid receiver Julian Edelman), perhaps the Patriots would at least consider it.
Mike, I've been watching this Johnny Manziel situation closely and I'm wondering why the Patriots wouldn't just make him an entry level offer and get him on the 90 man roster and just see what shakes? We know they need a QB for the future and there is zero risk with this. Ideas?— Tyke (@Tyke1202) April 9, 2018
From a pure football perspective, I agree that there is no risk. But as Bill Belichick sometimes says, any time a club signs a player, it gets everything that comes with him -- on and off the field. The last part would be the risk for the Patriots with Manziel. Their comfort level with him off the field would have to be high to sign him.
Hi mike! Just read the article on the patriots draft that you're featured in. Who do you think is the best coverage linebacker in the draft? Roquan Smith? I don't see him falling to #23. Can Alabama's rashaad Evans cover?— Antonio Favio (@TonyFavio) April 12, 2018
Tony, the thing that draft analysts say about Alabama's Rashaan Evans is that he is one of the fastest linebackers in the draft. ESPN's scouting report notes that he is "light on his feet in coverage, versatile and strong against the run." While it's a challenge for any rookie to make an immediate impact, a player like Evans could eventually become a four-down option with development. He might not be there when the Patriots make their first pick, but he seems like a good choice to put on the "possibilities" list as he is talented and would project to fill a position of need.
Mike, what are the chances of us drafting QB Lamar Jackson? I've read articles that we are linked to him. How true is this?— demond kelley (@dkelley95) April 13, 2018
Demond, the Patriots don't tip their intentions with any prospects, so I don't think anyone can truly say they know what Bill Belichick is thinking. Specific to Lamar Jackson, it's possible he won't even be there when the Patriots make their first pick. But if he was available, my hunch would be a "no" for the team based on accuracy (59 percent passer last season) and decision-making. Those are the two things often valued most by the Patriots at quarterback.
Hey @MikeReiss , One scenario I have not heard brought up, Could the pats trade the two 2nd rounders for another late round 1st? This could give them the opportunity to get the OT, a valued LB, and possibly the right QB? https://t.co/OTJyr2ZA0S— Scott Lakin (@Soxnation0613) April 12, 2018
Scott, they could consider that scenario if they have strong conviction on a player. But one thing that some believe about the draft is that the difference between pick 25 and 55 isn't that great, so you could have a situation where the Patriots gave up two potential starters to get one.
@MikeReiss morning Mike. Do you have any idea when the NFL Schedule dates for the regular season will be released? Have a great day.— Christopher Hughes (@vancemarianas) April 13, 2018
Christopher, next week looks like a good possibility for the release of the 2018 regular-season schedule, although nothing has officially been announced at this point.
@MikeReiss with the NFL having a problem getting fans to preseason games do you think their scheduling is part of the problem? The Pats for instance haven't had the #3 game at home since 2014, not to mention their opponent for game #4 has been the Giants since '04...2004! C'mon— Names go here ____ (@ReadNFLtweets) April 12, 2018
The scheduling might not help, but it doesn't seem like it's the main reason for any attendance struggles. Even when the top players are on the field in preseason, it's still not the same product as regular-season football because there is little scheme and game-planning involved. I look at it from this perspective: For those looking to get excited about preseason, it's a good chance to see the rookies and newcomers to get a feel for how they might help the team.