Chat with Mike Reiss
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NFL Nation New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss drops by to chat and answer all of your Patriots questions.
Reiss joined ESPNBoston.com in September 2009 and is a native New Englander. He first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004.
Send your questions now and join Reiss Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Mike (10:59 AM)
Good morning and welcome to today's chat. We'll get started in a few.
Mike (11:04 AM)
Looking forward to Friday's organized team activity, which will be our first look at the Patriots this offseason as a team.
Mike (11:04 AM)
What's on your mind today?
Marc (Malden, MA)
I want Andre Johnson !!!
Mike (11:05 AM)
Yes, Marc, I can think of 31 other teams, including Houston, that feel the same way. It's understandable. We can always dream.
any updates on Stephen Houston?
Mike (11:05 AM)
Herb, we'll get our first look at Houston in Friday's practice. I had a nice chat with him two weeks ago, and not sure if you saw it. Here is the link: http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/127896/how-houston-relocated-to-new-england
Mike (11:06 AM)
Houston, the big running back from Indiana, is a rookie free-agent I'm particularly interested in following. Every year, there is a rookie free-agent who seems to beat the odds and emerge and he seems like a solid-odds choice this year.
Rain (Ft. Lauderdale)
Will Dobson be ready for week one of the season ?
Mike (11:07 AM)
Rain, if Dobson isn't ready for Week 1, that would be a surprise. They are counting on him.
Does the roster being at 90 mean no Dustin Keller? I think he is a good fit if his knee checks out...
Mike (11:08 AM)
Mike, as we've seen over the last few weeks, the back end of the roster is turning over every few days. Just because the team is at 90 right now doesn't mean it is set in stone. In fact, we can almost guarantee some roster moves ahead.
Mike (Canton, OH)
We know Vince can barbecue. Can he still play 60 % of the defensive snaps?
Mike (11:08 AM)
Mike, I think 60 is a reasonable number. What they don't want, I assume, is 80 percent.
I'm sorry people, but at this point I think it's clear Keller and Finley haven't checked out medically....
Mike (11:09 AM)
Mike, if there's no movement on those players by mid-June, I'd agree with that. But the June 1 date is key because that's when signings don't count against the compensatory draft pick formula the team will use for 2015. Makes sense to wait on those signings until post June 1 at this point.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
I know Brady says he feels great, but realistically, how many elite years do you think he has left in him?
Mike (11:10 AM)
Tony, I think 3-4 is reasonable, with the caveat that I would never bet against Tom Brady for more.
Mike (11:10 AM)
Tony, I think 3-4 is reasonable, with the caveat that I would never bet against Tom Brady for more.
Sean (Springfield, Mass) [via mobile]
Mike, I have a comment I's like for you to consider. I look at Manning, Rodgers, Brees, etc.
Mike (11:14 AM)
Sean, I think they felt like they were doing something similar with the TEs in 2010 (Gronkowski/Hernandez) and sort of building it from the inside-out. We've seen what's happened with that plan. They did it with Moss in 2007 and that was remarkable. They thought Ocho could be the guy at one point. I understand the viewpoint, and think it's fair to a point. On Brees, I don't necessarily think he's benfitted from a big No. 1 receiver as much as a great offensive system that fits him so well. On Manning and Rodgers, those teams hit on some draft picks at WR and I think that's where the Patriots really need Dobson to come through this year. A lot to digest there, but those are some thoughts.
The guy with season tickets behind me has been talking up Armstead since around the Ridley fumble against the Ravens in the AFC Champ game....it's been a tease I want to see him play!
Mike (11:15 AM)
Mike, I have him high on my list of players I want to see tomorrow. I was told a few weeks back that he's good to go. We'll see how credible that info is tomorrow.
Sam (Westford, MA)
Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on Jeremy Gallon? He seems like a promising young receiver, but there are a number of potentially talented young receivers currently on the roster. I know it is still very early, but where are you expecting him to end up by the end of camp? Will his talents as a potential return man carry any weight?
Mike (11:17 AM)
Sam, great production, great traits. My feeling on WR is that an injury or two will probably help us sort out the picture rather quickly. Would guess Gallon to the practice squad at this point, but if shows up like Edelman did as a rookie in '09, they won't take the risk and will carve him out a spot on the 53-man roster. One thing to consider is that the Patriots can really keep 54 because suspended CB Brandon Browner won't count against the roster for the first four games. Almost a side benefit to keep a player like Gallon if he flashes, then you see what the state of the roster is when Browner is reinstated.
Joe (NJ) [via mobile]
Mike, with Belichick's plans to keep Mark Harrison at wide receiver do you think that reflects a view that he could be a legit starter on the outside or just more wait and see at this point?
Mike (11:19 AM)
Joe, similar to Armstead, I am interested to see Harrison on Friday, assuming he is out there. I heard he participated in rookie minicamp and I want to see how that foot responded. I wouldn't say "legit starter" at this point, but he obviously has a lot of things going for him from a traits perspective -- not many receivers that size. I always think the Patriots do a nice job identifying a player's strengths and playing to those, while finding a way to mask the deficiencies.
How much of a psycho is Hernandez? Except for an accidental bump on the dance floor, his victims never gave him a second thought ... much less could ever imagine it was enough to drive this guy to kill them. Not blaming the Pats, but how chilling is it that after "allegedly" committing double homicide, he is signed to a big deal? Thoughts?
Mike (11:21 AM)
Chilling is the word that comes to mind. I think about the times he'd walk into the locker room, big smile on his face, and strike up a conversation with reporters. He certainly duped me. As for the Patriots, I don't think they could have ever imagined what unfolded, but their due diligence and judgment certainly can be second-guessed based on the big deal. They are generally so fiscally responsible that it's surprising when you go back and retrace the steps.
trent (columbus, oh)
Over/Under 1.5 players will be extended before the end of the season? I'll go over--I think at least two of McCourty, Gostkowski, and Slater sign on to stay, sooner rather than later. What about you, Mike? Curious to see if kickers' price tags will rise due to added value of the placekicker if (when) extra points get moved back.
Mike (11:22 AM)
I'll go over. McCourty first, then Gostkowski a strong candidate to be second.
Chris ( )
Is there any chance Belichick is waiting for a TE to get cut like he did with Revis? It seems like Housler is on with way out of Arizona.
Mike (11:25 AM)
Certainly possible, Chris. I think ideally you'd like the player in your system now, but this wouldn't be the first time that BB had his eyes on a player who might be in jeopardy of not making a roster. Michael Hoomanawanui from a few years back is a good example. Matthew Mulligan is another from last year. It's risky to rely on it, so you have to be prepared for other plans, but I'm sure part of analyzing the situation is, "Do we sign another free agent or wait things out a bit and see what shakes out around the league?"
Anton Ackermann (South Africa)
Hi Mike, I was very surprised when they actually signed Will Smith to be the 3rd rusher, I think we have great in-house prospect in Chris Jones to take over that role. I know he is a DT but he is very explosive and given that we drafted a DT he is going to see less reps... Imagine giving him 15-20 snaps a game just going all out try to sack the QB... Can we maybe see such a scenario unfold 2014?
Mike (11:26 AM)
Anton, I think you're looking at two different positions when comparing Chris Jones and Will Smith. Jones is more of a between the tackles lineman who is best penetrating up the middle. Smith is more of a power defensive end who you ideally want rushing off the edge. While Smith has reduced inside at times, similar to what we saw with Chandler Jones last year, I don't think that's his game.
Ryan (Manchester) [via mobile]
Hey Mike, do you think the charity events and community service projects can serve as a chemistry builder between new players and vets? It's good to see the team helping in their community.
Mike (11:27 AM)
Ryan, it can't hurt, but I think that's a pretty small piece of the puzzle.
Mark [via mobile]
How disappointed whould you be if KT didn't make the roster? The Patriots should NOT have drafted a WR when they had more than enough already on the roster, Your thoughts?
Mike (11:28 AM)
Mark, I'm more of the thinking that a team can never have enough good players. An injury or two should help shake things out. And if it doesn't, I'd call it a "high-class" problem that a team would want to have. Would rather have too many good players than not enough.
Chad (San Francisco) [via mobile]
Hi Mike, What time and where are the OTAs today and Friday? Are we as fans allowed to go and watch? Will Brady participate? Thank you.
Mike (11:29 AM)
Chad, the OTAs are closed to the public. Brady is participating.
Mike! Hope all is well with the fam!Bottom line: To WIN the Super Bowl the Pats need Gronk, Dobson, and Vereen to get/stay healthy and have big contributions. The Pats will always be in the mix, but man would I like to see Brady win at least one more.
Mike (11:31 AM)
Shimon, those three are crucial. One thing that I think helps the Patriots is that if Vereen is injured again, fourth-round draft pick James White has a similar style of play. Meanwhile, there's no substitute for Gronk. And I believe Dobson is one of the key players for this team. They really need him to be that outside WR. They invested big in the position in 2013 and Dobson is the key to validating that approach, especially when 2014 was such a strong year at the position.
Long time reader [via mobile]
Why do you continue to cover aaron hernandez's trial in this blog. This is not patriots news, this is criminal news from a former player. It's ruining the blog experience to see this everytime I come to the blog. The patriots have moved on, this blog should as well....
Mike (11:32 AM)
Thanks long time reader. As you might have noticed, I am not writing those stories on Hernandez. They appear in the blog as part of an automated feed through ESPN. I sense you are not alone in your thoughts and would encourage you to reach out to ESPN and share your thoughts. We value reader feedback.
I love the comment Mr. Kraft made about liking the way Gronk is having fun and he's always positive. People that criticize a Vegas trip, are they also critical of players spending time with their family? Is it a distraction? Single players have more time to make those trips and more time to workout. Time for everyone to back off don't you think?
Mike (11:34 AM)
It's interesting, Evan. Just as I'm personally leaning to the line of thinking of, "Does Gronk need to tone it down?", Kraft says what he says and leads me re-think my thoughts. As long as a player is doing his work, not putting anyone in harm's way, I guess I don't see the problem with it. There are obviously some exceptions.
I read somewhere recently speculation that it's likely thar Brady will end his career somewhere else, much like many other legendary players. We all know Kraft, Belicheck, and Brady are as tight as can be, but ownership and management have shown they not afraid to move on from superstars on the decline. Will they accept a Brady who is playing at 65-70% of what he once was in a couple years if say through circumstance a backup quarterback has proven he is ready to at least start?
Mike (11:34 AM)
Ryan, that would be complicated, but I'd have to fall back on Bill Belichick's oft-stated remarks: "We'll do what's in the best interests of the team." If another QB gives the Patriots the best chance to win, it would be consistent for the Patriots to go with that QB.
Eric (Rhode Island)
Hey Mike. Long time...I have been meaning to get on here. I am overall pretty sold on this draft class. Added some great depth on the o-Line for down the road. Possible QB of the future. However, my favorite picks of the draft were clearly Stork; who I see as day 1 starter. White; this team sorely missed that 3rd down RB who can catch and block when Veeren went down. Bolden is not a 3rd down RB for this offense. My favorite pick was Gallon. I watched him play for 4 yrs at Mich. I truly think he somehow makes the roster and eventually takes over for Amendola in the slot, maybe as soon as next yr. He will return KO with Boyce and replace Edelman if needed on punts. Great route runner with good hands, and he is a tough kid. WR are going to have to watch out for him. So my question is, who were your favorite picks? Also, still not sold on the TE we have....
Mike (11:37 AM)
Eric, I think you covered it pretty nicely. I wouldn't say "favorite" but I felt strongly entering the draft that they had to focus on the o-line. They hadn't picked an OL in 2012 or 2013 and I felt like it would have been borderline irresponsible to not address it in 2014 from a feeding-the-pipeline and salary-cap integrity standpoint. I don't know if they got the right picks, but I think the approach was sound.
Mike, I look at the QB situation here in NE and wonder about the roster spots. Roster spots in the NFL are so valuable. It seems like there is always a rookie you could develop, but don't have room on the roster, and he has enough upside that he doesn't make it to the practice squad. I know you think the Pats will carry all three QBs, but can you envision a scenario where Mallett is cut? Yes, he knows the system well, but he does not have an abundance of game experience. Thanks Mike.
Mike (11:40 AM)
Ryan, maybe a 10-15 percent chance of that unfolding, and it would be contingent on Garoppolo really jumping out of the gate quickly, similar to what we saw in 2009 with Brian Hoyer (undrafted FA) out-performing 2008 third-round pick Kevin O'Connell. One thing to keep in mind is that if the Patriots do that, they forego the chance to get a compensatory draft pick next year if Mallett signs elsewhere in 2015.
Jeff (Canada) [via mobile]
Hey Mike, I think the biggest part of the Tom Brady interview with MMQB was when he said he won't be too far from the game when he retires. Do you think there is a chance Brady joins the team in either a coaching or executive role once his playing days are over? (Mind you I hope that's not for a long time lol)
Mike (11:42 AM)
That was interesting, Jeff, but I wouldn't say it was the "biggest part" of the interview to me. Brady has long said he loves football and can't imagine his life without it. Brady is also invested in personal health and has a sports therapy business in Patriot Place. Not sure it's possible, but perhaps the tie-in comes in that form. Or executive-level type stuff.
Derek (Jacksonville, FL)
Hi Mike, I wanted to know what you think this year of the AFC east? Who is the Patriots biggest threat to remove them from the top AFC east spot? Which teams improved the most? Do you think the patriots can reign the top spot, and which games this season make for the biggest threat to the patriots? I feel like no matter the schedule, the patriots should be a 10 win team; but what AFC east team do you think will have the most improved offseason and why?
Mike (11:46 AM)
Derek, I like what the Jets have done. Their defense has been their strong suit, and if they can maintain that, I think they've really helped their offense with some of their additions. I still see the Patriots as the class of the division, but I'd put the Jets second.
Bill (Atlanta, Georgia) [via mobile]
Hi Mike, what would u say if on defense we played a 3-4 with Easly,Wilfork, Chandler Jones, then our linebackers would be Collins,Mayo,Hightower, Ninckovich. I think it would be better for the defense since we are thin on linebackers. Also if you had guess now, who will make the cut for receiver for the regular season. Thankyou?
Mike (11:49 AM)
Bill, I don't think they'd be stout enough in the two-gapping 3-4 with that d-line. Would seem to be a case where the scheme doesn't seem to fit the talent. As for WR, Edelman and Dobson are locks, with LaFell and Amendola pretty strong considerations for the next 2 spots. That puts Boyce and Thompkins in the 5-6 holes, with Slater on the roster more for special teams. Puts Gallon on the PS if everyone is healthy. But like we said, long way to go, and an injury can sort things out quickly.
pat (new york)
Do you think that with the lack of a diverse tight end group and a plethora of diverse running backs the patriots switch to more 2 back sets? Or 3 receiver , 2 back sets?
Mike (11:49 AM)
Yes, Pat. I think that's fair to say at this point. The Patriots won't run a two-TE offense just to say they are running a two-TE offense. They are going to cater to the strengths of their personnel.
munchkin (glenwood springs, co)
Mike, I am betting that Sean Lee's ACL tear has made more than one Patriots fan cringe as we wait for Dominique Easley to sign his contract. It is tough to lose a player of Lee's ability in a non-contact OTA. But you aren't going to convince me that the Easley pick wasn't the right one. I have no problem with the team taking a risk on a potential impact player at a position of need. Easley could go a long way to making this defense special. If I read the projected rookie contract projections correctly it appears that the team would be taking the same financial risk on Easley that they are on Vince; both risks are worth the potential reward.
Mike (11:52 AM)
Well said, Munchkin. You acknowledged the risk, assessed it, and decided it was still worth it. Just as the Patriots did. My only beef would be with someone who said there was no risk involved with the pick based on the two ACL tears over the last 22 months.
Brian M (Middletown, RI)
Can you play matchmaker and construct a deal that the Patriots and Texans might agree to regarding Andre Johnson?Last week someone mentioned a 2nd, Mallet, and Boyce/Thompkins and your opinion was that it wasn't enough for the Texas. I don't think the Patriots give up a first. Is it a stalemate, or is there something like a 5th round pick that could bridge the gap (Patriots could justify it by having a compensation pick)?
Mike (11:53 AM)
Sure, Brian. Any deal for Johnson will include, at minimum, one first-round pick. So the deal would be this: Andre Johnson for a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 conditional second-rounder that could become a first-rounder if he reaches certain performace marks.
Mike (11:54 AM)
If I'm the Texans, that's the only type of package that would make me move the player. I can sign Mallett next year as a FA. And while Boyce and Thompkins have nice upside, they don't add much to the value of the deal IMO.
Dave (Naugatuck CT)
What is the motivation to wait until after June 1st for signing players such as Dustin Keller and James Anderson? Does Bill really care if the Dolphins get an extra 3rd or 4th round pick next year? With depth an issues at Tight End and even more so at Linebacker, why wouldn't they want to bring in these vets as soon as possible to see what they have and get them up to speed. My fear is that the Pats already know all about these two guys and are not interested. So what is the Linebacker depth chart?
Mike (12:00 PM)
Dave, you could be right that the team isn't interested, but I wouldn't dismiss the thought that sacrificing 2-3 weeks of work in the offseason is worth it to wait until after June 1 to protect a potential 2015 third- or fourth-round draft choice. That is a significant asset. As for the LB depth chart, it is strong at the top with Mayo, Hightower and Collins in the 4-3. We know Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones can play some LB-type responsibilities, so they should be factored into any snapshot in some form. But in terms of pure backups, you have Steve Beauharnais (7th round, 2013) as the top backup right now. After that, a lot of questions. Chris White, Ja'Gared Davis, Josh Hull, Cameron Gordon, Donetae Skinner, Taylor McCuller and possibly Darius Fleming in that mix.
Does it look like The Gronk will be ready for week 1?
Mike (12:01 PM)
Chris, he had the surgery in early January. As we saw with Wes Welker, that was enough time for him to be ready in 2010. Every player is different, but it's within range for Gronkowski to be ready. Have to see how it plays out.
Darchoob (Augusta, Ga)
Mike,I may be a little late to the party with the question, but it is something I would like an answer to and something I have heard absolutely nothing about, but with all the contract extensions for big time corners, and even the contract signed by Aqib Talib in the offseason, what is New England's chances of resigning Revis? It is pretty much a given they won't pick up his option. Also, what would happen with the millions in cap space they "borrowed" from next year if they did reach an extension? Thanks Mike!
Mike (12:02 PM)
I know a lot of folks have assumed that Revis is a one-year rental based on some of the big deals that have been signed. I would lean in that direction, but don't think it's a certainty. A lot of things can happen between now and then.
Mike (12:02 PM)
Let's take a few more...
Mike (Buena Park, CA)
Mike, I believe we have done everything we could to do to become successful this year. I think our only glaring weakness is at Center. I have faith in our line play, but it looks like we need to get stronger up the middle, could we see Bryan Stork challenge for the center spot this year, or is he too far behind the learning curve for year one?
Mike (12:03 PM)
Mike, I think Stork is a legitimate candidate. I'm not saying it will happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does.
Mike, your way too early surprise picks to make the team = one offense and one defense? I'm guessing Watson at TE and Ott at LS.
Mike (12:04 PM)
I like the Ott pick, Rick. I'll take him, RB Stephen Houston and LB Cameron Gordon. Looking forward to revisiting this when we actually have a chance to watch them play.
Mike, could you provide some details to the joint practices for the Pats and Redskins? Will they be practiciing at FedEx field prior to the first preseason game or does the practicing take place at a remote location. Thank you very much!
Mike (12:04 PM)
Will, the practices will be at the Redskins' training facility in Richmond, Va.
Trevor (Newburyport, MA) [via mobile]
What are the chances of the Patriots acquiring Andre Johnson? Is there even a chance the Texans would let him go? I think Andre doesn't want to be there anymore and wants to be on a more consistent winning team and we could use him as a big bodied receiver. What do you think?
Mike (12:06 PM)
Let's end on this one, Trevor, as it's clearly the topic that seems to be on the forefront of many. I don't think the Texans have any intention of letting Johnson go, so the interested team would have to really sweeten any deal to entice them. As the 2013 Chiefs showed us last year, a team can turn things around quickly and Johnson is a real asset to the Texans.
Mike (12:09 PM)
Thanks to everyone for chatting today. Hoping that Friday's OTA gives us some good stuff to be talking about next week as well.