September 25, 2016

Patriots Positional Previews – Offense and Defense.

Everywhere you look, you see training camp preview. We’re no different, though we think ours are more thorough and more entertaining to read. See if you agree:

Defensive Preview By Greg Doyle

The Patriots head into camp looking very strong along the defensive line, with little room for competition. The top four will be the newly signed to a long-term deal Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Jarvis Green. It seems unlikely anyone could crack that top four rotation. Marquise Hill should be set as the fifth guy and depth despite an unproductive first two years. This will be the year to prove himself, though he should at least get the roster slot to have an opportunity to do so. The last couple spots seem to be where the competition will be. Mike Wright stayed on the roster, after being an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati, for most of the season. He showed hustle and some versatility to play outside and inside. He has a good chance to make the team and even join the rotation. Santonio Holmes, a nose tackle, has some talent and should compete with draftee LeKevin Smith for the backup spot to Vince Wilfork. Give Thomas the edge with a year in the system and Smith could head to the practice squad. Dan Klecko could be out of opportunities and reports from mini-camp are he is working with the linebackers. Recent pickup Jonathan Sullivan is loaded with talent, but has shown little inclination to use it in his time in the NFL. He’ll have to demonstrate an immediate 180 to work his way into the rotation consistently.

Linebacker is a little slimmer, depth wise, heading into camp. Tedy Bruschi, Roosevelt Colvin and Mike Vrabel all will be mainstays, obviously. There is some question if Vrabel spends most of his time outside or inside. The thought is, he’ll probably prepare in camp for both, but start the season outside where he is best suited. He can capably play both, however. The fourth spot will likely be between Tully Banta-Cain and Monty Beisel. Beisel needs to show he has adjusted to the Patriots system better early on if he wants to start the season in the rotation. Banta-Cain needs to show he is ready to take on a bigger role outside, helping to replace Willie McGinest. He’s been in the system long enough and has shown flashes. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with more opportunity. Recent re-signee Chad Brown is back to hopefully make a bigger contribution in his second year with the club. Larry Izzo should make the team due to his special teams ability. Don Davis is probably a good candidate for the same reason. The rest of the spots come down to competition between draftee Jeremy Mincey, an outside player with good talent, and free agent signee Barry Gardner who has a lot of experience in the NFL. Eric Alexander, who has spent some time here learning the system, also has a shot. The last few spots will come down to whom among these four plays the best in camp and pre-season games.

The secondary the last two years seemed stacked in pre-season. Yet in both season, injuries hit hard and the Pats were scrambling by seasons end to field experienced guys. This year they look solid again heading into camp. Asante Samuel, last year’s talented rookie Ellis Hobbs, Eugene Wilson and free agent signee Eric Warfield all appear assured of spots. Rodney Harrison too should rejoin the group at some point depending on how he progresses off the major knee injury he suffered last year. At that point, it becomes less clear. Watch to see how Randall Gay performs. He looked like a top flight prospect in 2004, only to suffer thru an injury riddled season last year and missing most of the year. If he returns, he’ll contribute. Camp and pre-season games should point towards how that will sort out. Artrell Hawkins came in and played well last year and should be safe as a safety/corner depth swing man. Hank Poteat at corner is a journeyman, but has generally played well since joining the Pats. 2005 draftee James Sanders showed ability at points last year and may be ready to start while Harrison recuperates. Watch to see how he plays in the preseason and what units he is paired with. On more shaky ground are free agent signees Mel Mitchell, safety Tebuckey Jones in his second tour with the Pats and returnees Gus Scott and Chad Scott. A few of these are likely to get a look. From all appearances, rookie Willie Andrews has ability and may stick if he shows he can both cover kicks and return them on special teams. Ray Ventrone is a safety and hard hitter, without much upper echelon collegiate experience, who the Pats liked last year, kept on the practice squad last year and allocated to NFL Europe, where he gained some experience, in the spring. He has a shot, but will have to make inroads on special teams. All in all, the most competition on the team for the final few spots may be found at defensive backs. Any injury causing a player to miss significant practice time could be fatal to his shot to make the team.

Offensive Preview by Scott Benson

A few words: Just to say that I’m happy to be back here at GDRV for the 06 season. I’m looking forward to being part of the new GDRV team approach, and to be honest, I’m kind of hoping we get blazers.

Now, here’s a few words about the 2006 Patriots offense.

Coaching: It’s safe to call Josh McDaniels the offensive coordinator now, apparently. That’s a relief. There were a few tears in the press box last fall when Bill Belichick wouldn’t admit to what was already evident to most of us anyway; McDaniels was calling the plays. Clearly Belichick bucked under the intense pressure and promoted McDaniels, probably in self-defense. Score this one for the Knights!

I’ll tell you something about McDaniels, though. The kid likes to air it out. He makes Charlie Weis look like Woody Hayes. It’s as though he looks in the huddle and says, “hey, that’s Tom Brady!” and then spends the rest of the game sending in pass plays trying to impress him. I’m too old for this 60/40 pass/run split, Josh. Criminy, at least run a draw play so I can catch my breath.

‘Bombs Away’ McDaniels will have his hands full in 06, with a group of rookies from a surprising draft devoted almost exclusively to offense. How he develops and integrates Chad Jackson into a receiving mix that is decidedly thin is to me the offensive focal point, though we’ll also be anxiously awaiting a glimpse of the future of Laurence Maroney.

Quarterbacks: Hey! That’s Tom Brady!

I’m no more objective than Josh, frankly. So here’s your preview – Tom Brady is the friggin’ quarterback. Beat that.

One more thing – I like a pissed off-Brady in 06. He didn’t make any secret of his frustration with the outcome (and his own play) in Denver, or of his intention to ensure it didn’t happen again. To me, this spells success. Let’s just say he doesn’t get the primo parking spaces for nothing.

It sure looks like Matt Cassel – like Brady before him – will move into the number 2 slot in his second year with the team. Most people seemed to think the Pats would move on a veteran quarterback when Our Doug retired this spring (after 63 memorable years in the game), but so far, no dice. It’s hard to believe they’d bring in anybody but a 3rd stringer now, and some (the estimable Mike Reiss, for one) are even wondering if the Pats will trim back on quarterbacks (to 2) to squeeze in players elsewhere.

I was impressed with (and amused by) Cassel’s Young-Steve-Grogan pre-season, and he acquitted himself pretty well in the final regular season loss to Miami (in fact, so well that people immediately accused him of throwing the game). He’s got a bit of athletic ability and a sound arm, and you have to like the makeup of a guy who comes from four years on the bench at USC (the University of Sitting Constantly?) to a number two spot in the NFL in a little over a year. I don’t think Matt Cassel has been coasting.

I look at it this way – do I really think that the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl without Tom Brady playing 16 games? No. Do I think that all could be saved if only Those Cheap Bastards had gone the extra mile for Jay Fielder? No. Do I think that if – God forbid – Matt Cassel had to come off the bench and take a few series or even finish a game, he’d embarrass or imperil anyone? No, not really. No more so than anybody else that had to follow Brady.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I say to you…Matt Cassel…why the hell not?

Running Backs: Corey Dillon is old and fat and hurt and he had a terrible 05 and he’s got a persecution complex and he’s probably going to submarine Maroney just like he turned on Heath Evans and I heard from some guy he carries a nuclear warhead in his car and BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH.

Maybe Dillon’s done. If so, what’s the point of beating the hell out of him for it? The Patriots got one magnificent season (and a world championship) out of a then-30 year old Dillon, and if that’s all they ever get, I’m fine with it. It’s not as though we can berate him back to form.

Maybe he isn’t done, though. Say Dillon hangs around long enough to burrow a few more tough yards, dispense a few more stiff arms, and own a few more fourth quarters…you can’t tell me you can’t find a roster spot for him. And with Maroney here, do you need Dillon to be the 300-carry back anymore?

I don’t know much about this young man Maroney and his career at Minnesota, except to say I don’t recall him playing for Hayden Fox in the old Craig T. Nelson series. I hope not. I don’t want to talk out of school, but I question the quality of the Golden Gophers’ coaching during the years 1989-1997. Van Damme, the defensive coordinator? An idiot.

And now we come to the part where we say that though they’re both a year older, and facing new competition, both Kevin Faulk and Patrick Pass have been invaluable cogs in the Patriots success and can never be taken for granted and are still likely to contribute to further success with their savvy playmaking and unselfish team play and downright affordability and…I have to admit I’m believing this less every year.

Kough It Up Kevin lost me – perhaps his most ardent defender – in Denver. The Patriots were grinding upfield with the lead and the ball and I was just turning to my wife to say ‘they have them’ when Faulk laid his most prodigious of eggs. You know what happened after that. I will forever believe it was all the inevitable consequence of the Worst Possible Thing at the Worst Possible Time.

Maroney doesn’t seem to be considered much of pass receiver, yet anyway, and the Pats don’t have another back with Faulk’s particular skill set (unless, strangely enough, it’s Pass, the titular fullback, who begins camp on the PUP). I’ll never argue that Faulk doesn’t provide a consistent spark as the lone back in the spread offense, or that he won’t be doing it again this year. But seriously, that fumble was a killer.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention intriguing rookie utility man Garrett Mills, the productive Tulsa alum who may be a fullback if he isn’t a tight end if he isn’t an h-back. What’s that Taylor Hicks always says? Possibilities!

Receivers: You one of those people who wants storylines? The receiver position has no fewer than six. They better set up a buffet table over there because spread-trolling scribes are going to hit this position group like moths hit my porch light.

Deion Branch – There is every indication the MVP of Super Bowl 39 will hold out when camp opens. As the Boston Globe has made abundantly clear (I thought the commemorative pull-out section on Sunday was a bit much), Branch wants the team to tear up the remaining year of his rookie contract and show him some love or respect or huge wads of cash or whatever the hell it is that people want in this situation. Personally, I can’t be angry with or disappointed in the Louisville sprite, because if anybody’s earned his slice of the cheddar, it’s Branch. Nor can I find fault with the team’s position. They’ve convinced me that a balanced roster is far more likely to produce the desired result than a top-heavy one. Overpaying a few players leaves you with, well, few players.

So I can’t get caught up in the passion-play here, putting black hats on everyone, and I’m old enough to know that this, too, shall blow over. I figure all that cap room means the Pats have planned to deal with Branch all along. Let them make the sausage; we don’t have to watch.

Chad Jackson – I hated to see David Givens go; I never thought of him as a ‘great’ receiver, but he was a receiver that made great plays. He was physical, he was athletic, he got open. He produced on third down, and he could score. His loss leaves an undeniable void in the Patriots offense. Filling it, and quick, is Offensive Job 1.

Jackson ran a 4.3 at the Combine, but I like the Patriots’ web site description of him as a ‘clutch short area pass catcher.’ That, to me, is what David Givens was. The Patriots should be so lucky to end up with a faster version of him. He needs to get off the PUP first, though.

Reche Caldwell – It’s a horrible ‘first thing’ to write about the guy, but when the Pats signed Caldwell, a BSMW poster immediately dubbed him ‘Paper Reche’. I thought that was priceless. And not entirely unwarranted; though he played 16 games last season, he had played just 15 of the previous 32. He’s got good size, he’s got some experience, but he’s never caught more than 28 balls in a season. He seemed to hit if off with Brady right away, but there’s no telling where this one’s going.

Daniel Graham – You can almost see Graham’s story write itself. If he doesn’t end up as the next free agent departure, I’ll be (pleasantly) shocked. With Ben Watson’s emergence (and to an extent, the drafting of Texas TE David Thomas), and Graham’s best years still ahead of him, it seems inevitable. That’s a shame, really – another likeable player hitting the bricks. I don’t care if Graham ever catches the balls he was supposed to catch; he’s proven himself to be a NFL player on his ace run blocking alone.

Ben Watson – Combine his seemingly limitless potential and the tantalizing flashes with his highlight-heaven 100 yard dash on Champ Bailey, and you’ve got everybody expecting the world from Ben Watson. A guy can go either way on that kind of thing. With Givens gone, Graham going and the receivers thin, the margin of error is pretty slim.

Troy Brown – Even now, you’re damn glad to have Troy Brown on the field for a crucial third-down play. But at some point, time must move on. Here’s hoping that Troy plays successfully for as long as he wants to play, but at the same time, here’s hoping that the next generation of Patriots go-to receivers arrives soon.

Offensive Line: Of immediate concern is the condition of center Dan Koppen, who begins camp on the PUP with the rehab of his bum shoulder. Without him, the Patriots offensive line isn’t as good, or as deep. Matt Light returns after a blighted 05, and frees up Nick Kaczur to fight for the right tackle spot. Logan Mankins (off a promising rookie season) and Steve Neal are back as the guards. Depth should come from the usual standbys (Hochstein, Gorin, and ol’ Cut and Paste Mruczkowski) and returning guards Billy Yates and Ross Tucker.

Other than an occasion of catastrophic injury, I rarely worry about the Patriots offensive line. They may rarely be a great line, but they’re never a bad one. Smart guys who are well coached are the most calming influence.

Yeah, we’ll cast a wary eye at the rehabbing veterans (Kaczur joins Koppen on the sidelines as things begin, though Light is cleared for takeoff), but we’ll also cast a hopeful one in the direction of rookies Ryan O’Callaghan (gargantuan tackle) and Dan Stevenson (Weis-recommended guard). Actual draft choices, even. Ideally, they push the standbys and give the Pats more youthful talent along the line.

Patriots Game Day – Season Three

Welcome to another season of Patriots Game Day here on BSMW. Our past editions have focused mainly on the actual games, as we prided ourselves on getting game stories out to the public before the newspaper hit the stands the following morning. This year we hope to continue that and add to our coverage here.

Instead of having one person do previews and reviews here on the blog, we’re going to split up the post among three and perhaps four people. We’re going to add midweek discussions on the Patriots, offer analysis of how things are going, and hopefully bring you some statistical analysis that you haven’t seen before. We’re going to have roundtable discussions on the state of the club, and get into the local media coverage a little more as well.

We hope that all of this will result in a resource that Patriots fans will enjoy and benefit from. We hope to fill in the holes that we see in the local coverage and target the subjects that fans really are concerned about. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for topics that we should address here on the blog.

Football is back! Enjoy the season…

To kick things off, we decided to address a few of the issues that seem to be on the mind of Patriots fans heading into camp. Rather than wailing and moaning over free agent losses as the media seems wont to do, we try to tell you the reasons behind those losses and who might step up into their places. Instead of trying to stir up controversy by imagining that Tom Brady isn’t throwing as hard as he did last training camp, we’re looking at the reasons why the Patriots make the decisions that they do.

So without further ado, here are some of the issues we think are on the minds of the fans, and our thoughts on them:

The reasons why the Patriots didn’t make a bigger push for Ty Law.

Bruce: It seems pretty obvious that they just didn’t feel he was a significant enough upgrade for the money to make it worth their while to sign him. It says a lot about the Patriots that they had the available money this year to sign Ty and still chose to pass on what he and his agents were demanding.

I’ve heard a lot of talk in the media about the importance of a “shutdown” corner, and how this team isn’t going to the Super Bowl without one. In the past, the Patriots have made it clear that if the rest of the defense, specifically the front seven, are strong, then the shutdown corner isn’t as important. This was demonstrated in the 2004 playoffs.

Scott: Why didn’t they make a bigger push? The other day, Mike Reiss reported that Ty could make as much as $8 million this year simply by making it through Kansas City’s training camp. That ought to answer the question.

I like Ty Law. I’m sure that Ty is a better corner right now than anyone on the Patriots roster, but what I don’t know is how much difference it would make to the end result. Would it be an $8 million difference?

I also don’t know how much, if any, Ellis Hobbs progresses, or if Asante Samuel will ever prove that he’s the #1 corner he says he is. Or if Eric Warfield has anything to offer, or if Chad Scott can stay on the field.

But I do know that there was no freaking way the Patriots were paying Ty Law $8 million this year.

Greg: I’m not sure what not making a bigger push means, except that they didn’t beat out Kansas City for his services. He would have helped. But he is 32 years old. I am sure they would have given him a reasonable deal for this year, but knowing the Patriots, it was likely incentive laden and without much guaranteed money that would carry into future years. I really can’t fault them. Everyone questioned them last year on the decision, but how much did the Jets decision to give him the contract he wanted help them? And sure, you can say the Pats didn’t repeat either and that losing Ty Law was one of the reasons. But he wasn’t the sole reason. And would have Ellis Hobbs gotten on the field as much if they had kept him last year? Doesn’t Hobbs experience from last year help the Patriots this year? Again, it would have been nice to have Law. But the Patriots understand that you have to set a price and stick to it. That is what they did here.

*Why weren’t the Patriots more aggressive in free agency?

Greg: I think the free agent class wasn’t all that impressive this year. And the Patriots are not just preparing for this year, they are preparing for down the road as well. When other teams are cash strapped for having rushed up to the new cap levels under the recently negotiated CBA in future years, in theory, the Patriots will have room to sign guys they feel make a difference. You don’t just sign guys simply because you have the cash. There simply weren’t many difference makers out there in free agency. Over the course of time, however, some will appear and it won’t necessarily be this year. The Patriots should have room to be competitive signing guys over time, not just this offseason.

Bruce: Again, it comes down to value for the money. The Patriots had the cap room, but obviously felt that they were better served promoting from within and drafting rather than going after high priced talent. The small moves they did make were aimed at specific needs. I think you’ll see a transaction or two take place during training camp as well.

Scott: I’m not sure there’s any evidence that being ‘aggressive’ in free agency buys anything but the March-through-July admiration of agents and football writers. I’d say the Patriots have been pretty aggressive in free agency when they believed it would improve their team (Rodney Harrison and Rosevelt Colvin being the best examples), but generally, you know how this stuff goes. They try to draft well, enjoy all the benefits of young, productive players at affordable rates, and fill in their roster with role-playing guys that Warren Sapp likes to feel superior to (while he’s watching from the stands). And by the way – the Patriots still have most of the starters from their last Super Bowl team, so how many free agents did you think they needed to sign?

The next time their championship ‘draught’ extends beyond, say, 24 months, let me know. In the meantime, I’m not going to demand a new approach because they lost out on Joe Jurevicius.

*Reasons why they haven’t given poor Deion Branch what his agent wants.

Bruce: Not to sound like a broken record here, but again value. If you believe what Ron Borges wrote in the Sunday Globe of July 23rd, the Patriots have offered Branch a deal that falls around a million plus dollars short of what the franchise tag number for the wide receiver position would receive. For someone of Branch’s production, that figure seems about right, but Branch and his agent seem to be taking the tact that Branch’s numbers would be much higher elsewhere, in a different system that didn’t spread things around as much.

Scott: Hey, what kind of muckraker is writing these questions? Jeez! I feel like I’m trapped in a hellish Ask Nick mailbag here. I’m telling you right now, if there’s a question about the red jerseys coming up, I’m bailing.

As Tom E. Curran wrote in his delightful, Jason Chayut-skewering column on Thursday: “To be paid like a free agent, you kind of have to be one.”

I’m like anybody else – I prefer tranquility over conflict. And I like Deion Branch, plenty. I think the Patriots do too (the alleged 5 million-per offer seems to validate this), but not so much that they’ll throw out their whole business plan (maybe that should have read ‘wildly successful business plan’) for him. And we shouldn’t want them to.

Greg: Deion Branch is a very good receiver. Not great, but very good. But he hasn’t been mistreated. He’s under contract. The Patriots are offering a fair new contract. He is choosing, apparently, to hold out. He isn’t a hero. He isn’t taking a moral stand. There isn’t a moral question involved in the difference of a a few million dollars in a contract to a football player. He’s been very well paid. He’s done his job and he should continue to do so until his obligation is fulfilled.

*Why Adam Vinatieri and Willie McGinest were deemed expendable.

Scott: The inevitable consequence of winning Super Bowls. The players all want their share of the windfall. Plus, all the other teams want these players, even if only as talismans. So let’s not act like this is the first time it’s ever happened.

I’m not sure the team decided either player – or David Givens, the third member of the troika – was ‘expendable’ per se. I’d guess that no one in Foxboro is sure that they have a kicker that will inspire the same confidence as Vinatieri, and no one there believes that Big Play Willie will be easily replaced. God knows the receiver position is a question mark. I’d be very surprised to find out that anyone down there was doing back flips over finally getting rid of three players who had meant so much to the team.

I think it’s far more likely that they decided they could not accede to the salary demands of each while holding firm to their roster building model. It happens. You can’t keep everybody. The trick is keeping the right ones. And the proof of that will come with the pudding.

Bruce: As a group the losses of Vinatieri, McGinest and David Givens seem devastating. Looking at each case individually, you can see some logic in letting them move on. To me, Vinatieri’s loss is more heartbreaking to fans than devastating on the field. It seems for some time there was a disagreement between he and the club as to what his value was. If you coldly look at his performance, which the Patriots do so well, you see a kicker that is getting a little up there in age, there were some curious decisions made on field position last season that in the past would’ve been an automatic kick from Adam. He isn’t the best on kickoffs, though he seemed to do better last season in that area. There have also been rumors of back problems. In Stephen Gostkowski, I think they’re looking at a guy who is younger, an athlete like Vinatieri and a bit stronger. The billion dollar question is of course if he can kick in the clutch like Adam could.

With McGinest, again this was emotional. But it was also clear that he was more valuable to the Browns than he was to the Patriots. They need his leadership in that lockerrom. The Patriots seem to feel that they can replace his production with Rosevelt Colvin and Mike Vrabel by hoping that Monty Beisel improves inside next to Teddy Bruschi.

Greg: I don’t think they were expendable so much as its a question of priorities. You can’t sign everyone. You can’t pay everyone exactly what they want every time. On a team that has won three Super Bowls in recent years, there are going to be plenty of guys who have performed well and contributed greatly to the success. Sometimes they are going to cash in on that success elsewhere. In a perfect world, I am sure the Patriots would have preferred to keep both Vinatieri and McGinest. The Colts seem to think losing their running back, but gaining a kicker makes them a better team. Why didn’t they just choose to pay the running back and sign a veteran, cheaper kicker? They play in a dome in ideal conditions, couldn’t a competent kicker do the job in those conditions? And when they gambled on letting the running back go, they reportedly coveted Lawrence Maroney in the draft who ended up with the Patriots. The Colts then had to settle for a slight reach and their second choice in Joseph Addai. Could that have been an unintended consequence of choosing the kicker over the running back? The point is, decisions on who to sign have consequences. If not this year, eventually. Its the nature of a cap system. And the Patriots were only willing to go so far for a kicker, even one as good and productive as Vinatieri. And they stuck with it. Time will tell how many Super Bowls the Colts win choosing to go for the kicker as the difference maker.

*Players who will step up and be better than we think.

Greg: I’ll go with Jarvis Green. He slipped slightly last season, but I think this year they’ll work him in more and use 4-man lines more often that will help him team on the same line as three first round picks. I think he is poised to live up to the promise he has shown at times in the past, especially in big playoff games. I also like this kid Willie Andrews they drafted. He appears fast, athletic and versatile. He may stick as a special teams and dime back this year and be a surprise contributor as a rookie.

Bruce: They saw something they like in Reche Caldwell. I think playing with Tom Brady automatically makes him better. I see Ellis Hobbs making a big leap in his second year in the league.

Scott: I’ve got two. Jeremy Mincey and David Thomas. No particular reason – wishful thinking mostly. In a perfect world, Mincey’s raw skills enable him to contribute right away as a spot edge rusher, and Thomas, the third tight end to be certain, makes us forget about Red Zone Mike Vrabel.

*What ARE they going to do, if anything, with that $15 million cap room?

Bruce: I still think something will get worked out with Branch at some point. I see a pickup or trade or two coming during training camp as the coaching staff sees what they have, and what might be available as surplus from other teams. Daniel Graham will also be up for a new deal next season, and while the drafting of Dave Thomas might be with a view of replacing Graham should he leave, the Patriots really like Graham’s blocking skills and would like to keep him – as always, at the right price.

Scott: They’re going to keep it, and split it between their greedy executives. Best case scenario: some players and their families starve as a result.

Miguel, the Internet Cap Guy over at patsfans.com, noted the other day that as much as $6.6 million of the available space could go to an August roster bonus for previously-put-upon Richard Seymour, he of the lucrative new deal (hint, hint….sometimes these things work out despite the five alarm headlines). Another option is for the Pats to spread out that payment over a period of years, but maybe they’ll decide to dispense it in one whack in exchange for some breathing room in 07 and beyond.

Naturally (see above), I’m guessing that some of that cake goes to Branch, and maybe to other solid players like Daniel Graham and Dan Koppen, both of whom are entering the final year of their deals. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they’re not done acquiring players for 06, and considering they were a bit cash strapped when trying to deal with 05’s myriad injuries, they might do well to hang on to a bit of mad money for just that purpose.

Greg: Nothing much this year. They’ll use some of it on Seymour’s new deal when it kicks in. They’ll probably re-sign some of their own players as the season gets close. Deion Branch will likely get a deal. Graham is a possibility. And they are targeting to have room next year, as well, if they have to absorb some possible dead money should they cut ties with, say, Corey Dillon following the season.