The Welker Situation

wesBeing a Boston-based sports blog, how could we not touch on the whole Welker situation? I didn’t want to and put it off because, frankly, I’m indifferent about it. My general essence over this ordeal can be summed up by one word, “meh”. I mean we clearly had this coming. As much as I wanted Wes to stay, this was inevitable after how things have been panning out over the last few years. You can argue that he chokes in the big game situations, but the guy put up crazy numbers for us and left it all on the field. I’m not going to blame him, or the Pats for that matter. The NFL is a business. Belichick, Kraft, and the front office made a business move that they feel made sense to better their business. Granted, letting him go to Denver wasn’t ideal for us in New England, this isn’t the first time the Pats have made risky moves in terms of signing, or not signing, a big player. Also, keep in mind Danny Amendola isn’t some scrub. The guy can play. Oh and in case you forgot, Brady will still be the one throwing the ball to him. I don’t know about you but the way the Patriots have completely dominated over the last decade, and that’s not an opinion, I think I can safely put my trust in Bill and company to make the right offseason moves for the team. There’s always a plan. With that said, will we miss Wes Welker? Of course. You haven’t watched a single Pats game over the last five years if you say different. Just how much though, is the question? Only time will tell.

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Patriots Offseason Update

talibCiting Multiple Sources, the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots would like to get the Aqib Talib deal done soon. It remains their top priority on defense.

Globe writer Greg Bedard also mentions that if the Patriots sign Talib he expects them to be on such players such as Keenan Lewis (Steelers), Nnamdi Asomugha (Eagles), Derek Cox (Jaquars), Quinton Jammer and Antoine Cason (Chargers, Chris Houston (Lions), and Cary Williams (Ravens) to fill the other cornerback position.

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/extra_points/2013/03/thoughts_on_har.html

In other news CBS sports reported from several sources that the Patriots had considered making a run at restricted free agent Victor Cruz before Cruz switched agents to Tom Condon Monday

Since the Giants placed a 1st round tender on Cruz, the Patriots would have to had to give the Giants a 1st round pick and a long term contract.

Due to the tender and Condon as the agent, the Patriots will now not likely make a run at Cruz

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/jason-la-canfora/21854299/on-heels-of-boldin-harvin-deals-more-wrs—-including-giants-cruz—-could-be-dealt-

Jason La Canfora reported that Ed Reed has hired an agent. La Canfora reported that there is a “good chance he moves on.” The two top teams are likely New England and Indianapolis.

http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/2222/ed-reed

Patriots Off-Season Options

Getting Things Down Pat: With the latest news from the New England Patriots regarding Wes Welker wanting to “test the waters of free agency”, and the team failing to franchise any of their free agents, one has to wonder…what will the Pats do this off-season?

The Patriots have two primary needs this off-season. 1. A solid number one or number two wide receiver (should they fail to bring back Welker) and a productive cornerback/defensive back to help with the pass defense. Here’s a rundown of who the Pats can sign/draft to fill those needs:

Slot Machine: Wes Welker has no doubt been a great offensive weapon for the New England Patriots. Welker has caught 110 or more passes for 1,100 yards or more in five of his six seasons with the Patriots. He had a career year in 2011 with 122 grabs with 1,569 yards and 9 TDS. Welker however, is aging at 31, and is likely going to use his impressive Patriots resume’ to land himself a big pay-day somewhere else.

With all that said, and the fact that Welker is willing to talk to other teams, the Pats need a plan B should re-signing Welker fall through.

Here are the top five free agent pass catchers available:

Mike Wallace- In 2012 with Pittsburgh: 64 REC, 836 YDS, 8 TDS.

Greg Jennings- In 2012 with Green Bay (in 8 games): 36 REC, 366 YDS, 4 TDS.

Danny Amendola- In 2012 with St. Louis: 63 REC, 666 YDS , 3TDS.

Austin Collie- In 2012 with Indianapolis: 1 catch for 6 yards missed the season due to injury.

Brian Hartline- In 2012 with Miami: 74 REC, 1083 YDS, 1 TD.

Granted, those numbers don’t exactly replace Welker, but the Pats won’t need to completely replace him if they can land a solid receiver like the ones listed above.

Realistically Greg Jennings and Green Bay will probably agree to re-sign and Mike Wallace will probably take his talents elsewhere for more money than he’s worth. Austin Collie, when healthy has been reliable in Indy, but I don’t see him in New England next year. Brian Hartline had a career season last year for the Dolphins, so he should stay in South Beach.

So, that leaves Danny Amendola as the Pats most realistic option, as pointed out by Chris. Amendola has been a solid slot receiver for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and would be a good pickup should Welker leave.

Side Note: The Patriots only have 5 picks in this year’s NFL Draft (one in rounds 1,2, and 3 and two picks in round 7). The Pats will pick 29th in the first round and could wind up in a position to draft highly ranked wide receivers Keenan Allen out of California, Justin Hunter of Tennessee, or Cordarrelle Patterson also Tennessee.

No Thanks, I’ll Pass: The Patriots pass defense ranked 29th overall in 2012, giving up a total of 4,342 yards for an average of 271 yards per game. New England also gave up 27 passing TDS, allowed an average quarterback rating of 86.9, and a 62 percent pass completion rate.

Given those results, the Pats may want to hire one or two of these free agent pass defenders:

Ed Reed- In 2012 with Baltimore: 58 tackles and 4 interceptions.

Dashon Goldson- In 2012 with San Francisco: 69 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions.

Antoine Cason- In 2012 with San Diego: 73 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions.

Quentin Jammer- In 2012 with San Diego: 64 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions.

LaRon Landry- In 2012 with New York (Jets):  99 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- In 2012 with Philadelphia: 51 tackles and 3 interceptions.

Given the numbers the Patriots pass defense put up last season, any one of these available DB’s are significant upgrades to the secondary. Realistically Ed Reed, Laron Landry and Dashon Goldson will likely all re-sign with their respective teams or elsewhere. That leaves Antoine Cason, Quentin Jammer, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Again, picking up any one of those guys would be a step in the right direction.

Side Note: The Patriots 29th draft pick position could also allow them to go after a few defensive players such as Kevin Minter inside linebacker out of LSU, Blidi Wreh-Wilson cornerback of UCONN, or Desmond Trufant of Washington.

Final Thoughts: The Patriots have plenty of time to consider these and many other options in the weeks to come. It will no doubt be interesting to see what New England choose to do this off-season. What do you think will happen? Will Wes Welker stay? If he goes, who should the Patriots pursue? leave a comment below.

Welker to Test Free Agency : No Deal Imminent

Both the Boston Herald writer Jeff Howe and Adam Schefter have reported that Wes Welker expects the market next week.

Yesterday a source told CSN New England that the Patriots were closing in on a multi-year contract but now that looks like it is not the case.welker

Ultimately, the Patriots want to resign Welker and Welker wants to stay with the Patriots, so in all likeliness he will be back. But it looks like Welker wants to know his market value and out in the open anything can happen. (See Vincent Jackson’s contract last year, 5 Years 55 Million). If a team comes out with a huge number. The Patriots likely will not match. But Welker is turning 32 next season and viewed by most as a system player, the market may not be as strong as he would like.

Hopefully, the Patriots reward Welker with a deal, and we do not have to go through the awkward breakup stage of watching him in a uniform that is not red, white, and blue.

Do the Pats have a backup plan if Welker leaves?

It is rumored that the Patriots already have a plan to replace Wes Welker after not applying the Franchise Tag to him this season if they cannot come to a deal. It is also reported, however, that they are coming close to a deal since both sides knew that they were better with each other than without. Supposedly, they are looking to acquire Danny Amendola who is a slot receiver from the St. Louis Rams. Amendola missed 5 games last season but still caught 63 passes for 666 yards and 3 scores.  Danny Amendola is 27 years old and most likely won’t want to return to the awful Rams if he has a chance at a Super Bowl ring.  Danny is 4 years younger, and 2 inches taller than Welker. Do you think they will go through with this?

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Gronk Setback?

It was recently discovered that Rob Gronkowski has underwent surgery a few days back for an infection in his arm that he hurt multiple times last season. The good news is that he isn’t expected to miss any extra time and should be reporting to camp with the rest of the Patriots. Hopefully this is true, since we probably would have had a gronkowskishot at two Superbowls with him healthy. That’s speculating, but still. Gronk has been under the knife three times since getting hurt against the Colts midway through November.

This won’t stop Gronk from being Gronk though, as he was criticized for his craziness at a Las Vegas nightclub a few weeks back. Obviously, Gronk is still young and making the most of his youth, as he deserves to do. It’s gotta be tough for all of us Patriots fans to know that he has yet another injury, but at least it isn’t a major setback…hopefully!

Brady Signs Extension

BREAKING NEWS:

Tom Brady has just signed a contract extension through 2017. The reason why this is getting so much publicity right away is because it is only worth $27 million. Yes, that’s a lot for you and I, but for Tom, its chump change. He wants to win another STomBrady-010708-775408uperbowl and cement his legacy even further after the team-who-shall-not-be-named beat him twice in the big show.

Since it is a new story, there are no facts about the contract such as incentives and bonuses or how exactly it will look on the books each season. However, it will definitely make it easier to bring in some top 5 position players that should most certainly help with the success of the Pats going forward. Brady has always said that he wants to keep his loyalty and retire with the team that he started with. This isnot the first time that he has restructured his contract or taken less money for the good of the organization. Hopefully we can get some defensive backs and some other role players and make another run or two (or three, or four).

To put this into perspective, Drew Brees signed a 5-year, $100 million contract last season ($20 million a year). Peyton is making twice as much as Tom at $18 million. Even Sam Bradford made $15.6 million last season!  Brady deserves another chance at a title after all he has done to make this team a powerhouse, and all of the salary sacrifices he has made over the years. I guess Giselle and hundreds of millions of dollars isn’t enough for him, he wants more rings.

The Fraud That Is Ray Lewis

Like any Boston fan, I’ve been trying to avoid Sportscenter as much as possible lately. Aside from the Bruins, there’s just too much upsetting news in the sports world right now. I mean the Red Sox are still irrelevant for the time being, the struggling C’s lost Rondo for the year, and Ray Lewis’s face pisses me off now more than ever.

But with said, it’s kind of hard to raycriesavoid hearing about the latest in the Ray Lewis fraud fiasco. I honestly don’t know how he is getting off so easily with all this. For starters, he may or may not have murdered two guys outside a nightclub, or was at least involved enough to pay off the family of the victims and lead them to cringe each time they see him on TV. I know this is old news and only coming up again now because he’s back in the Super Bowl, but it wouldn’t be nearly as bad if the man didn’t pretend to be a saint. Wes Welker’s wife hit the nail on the head and I really wish she stuck by her words instead of apologizing. As much as he pretends to be and wants to be, the man is no role model.

nfl_u_raylewis_cmg_600With the murder situation aside, new insight from Sports Illustrated claims Ray used banned substances to recover from his torn triceps injury. Again, the man just simply denies it when confronted at media day and everyone moves on. HOW? How in the world did the media just give up on that question? Ray says he doesn’t want to talk about it and that’s it? A 37 year old Ray Lewis suffers an injury that would keep a 23 year old specimen of an athlete out at least 6 months. Within 7 weeks, the guy is back on the field. In less than 3 months he’s playing again. Oh and just happens to announce upon return that this will be his last year. I call bullshit.

Now I’m all about a good sports story. Coming back from an injury to end a Hall of Fame career with a Super Bowl win, who wouldn’t want to see something like that? But not from this guy. And I’m not saying that as a Pats fan whose still bitter about losing in the AFC championship game, even though I am. I’m saying that as a human being who doesn’t want to see people praising a murderer, cheater, liar, fraud, etc. In fact, I despise Jim Harbaugh so much I would actually root for the Ravens if it weren’t for Ray Lewis. I know this new story will have no effect on Ray playing Sunday but I truly hope more comes of it after the season and his career gets yet another asterisk next to it. I say this with reluctance, but let’s go Niners!

Brady Fined

Tom Brady was fined $10,000 last night after a slide against the Ravens last week that the league called a dirty play. Not that it matters, I’m pretty sure him and Gisele can swing the 10k. Ed Reed said he didn’t mind the play that much because it was in the heat of the game, but Bernard Pollard (one of the dirtiest guys out there) took to the media to complain. He said that if you can call it on the defense, you have to be able to do what’s right and call it on the QB too. Anyways, I like Brady for doing this. It shows that he was pissed off and wanted to do anything to win.

Ignore the voice of the guy in the video, even though it is pretty amusing.

Coach Sabotaged SuperBowl?

A new story surfaced today about a former Oakland Raiders’ Head Coach. According to multiple players that played for Bill Callahan, he “sabotaged” SuperBowl X2424XXVII.  According to Wide Receiver Tim Brown, who has almost 15,000 yards and 100 Touchdowns in 17 seasons, Coach Callahan changed their game plan right before the SuperBowl. He said that the whole team called it Sabotage. Callahan was brought into the organization by Jon Gruden, and remained good friends with him. Coincidentally, Gruden was the head coach for their opponent in that game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown said that Callahan always seemed fed up with the Raiders’ organization and even walked off the field on them a couple times. Even Jerry Rice, who was on the Raiders during that time at the end of his career said he found it “very unusual” that the coach changed dgdgeverything at the last minute. The Raiders ended up losing 48-21.

Normally, I’m not much for conspiracy theories but this seems fishy. Jerry Rice said that they practiced running the ball all week, and then on Friday, two days prior to the big game, they changed the plan to pass. They didn’t just throw it a little more, Quarterback Rich Gannon threw the ball over 60 times in that game. Many former players are either taking shots at Brown, or backing up his remarks as the story keeps developing.

Do you think a coach would actually sabotage a SuperBowl win, and his legacy by handing it over to a friend?