If I was able to correctly speak english, that's exactly I what I will Writing.
keys words: Perspective and having a plan ( no improvisation)
Don Banks, SI.com
Willie McGinest, gone. David Givens, gone. Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham and Andre Davis, gone, gone, gone. Adam Vinatieri? Going, going, almost gone.
What in the name of Tully Banta-Cain are the New England Patriots doing in free agency?
Pretty much what they always do, to no great surprise. Sticking to their plan amidst all the hand-wringing by fans and the media. Refusing to break their carefully crafted business model and overpay. Keeping emotion and nostalgia for past successes in check and out of the decision-making process.
Hey, one of these days that formula isn't going to work like it has in the past. Eventually New England's free-agent losses are going to turn into regular-season losses, and not even savvy mid-level signings, shrewd trades and consistently strong drafts are going to be enough to offset all the defections on both the personnel and coaching fronts. It's the law of the NFL jungle.
But until it does, it's hard to quibble with the results, no? Nobody ever said the Patriot Way didn't require a healthy dose of patience and perspective, especially when there's a gaudy $20 million to spend under the salary cap and New England has yet to make a free-agent addition to counterbalance its subtractions.
These are indeed tough times for New England fans to remain true believers. Chanting the mantra of "In Belichick we trust'' takes you only so far in mid-March, when the only news seems to be bad news and the goings completely outnumber the comings.
After all, McGinest was the first player ever drafted by the Patriots (No. 4 overall in 1994) after Bob Kraft bought the team and started the process of turning around the franchise's sagging fortunes. McGinest was beloved by the fans, an ideal teammate and locker-room leader, and his signing with Cleveland on Wednesday marks the end of an era in New England.
But all of that history didn't make the Patriots go wobbly in the knees when the building-an-identity Browns -- led by head coach Romeo Crennel, the former New England defensive coordinator -- offered the 12-year veteran a three-year deal worth $12 million, which includes $6 million of guaranteed money and $8 million in the first two years.
McGinest will turn 35 in December. Paying him as if he were 29 and still in his prime would have been a risk in New England's estimation. And the Patriots simply don't take those kind of risks. Never have. Probably never will. So, with regret, they bid the highly respected McGinest adieu, believing they've made the right choice, if not the convenient one.
It was the same basic story with Givens, the talented and underrated receiver who on Tuesday received a five-year, $24 million windfall from the Tennessee Titans, including $8 million to sign. New England's best offer had been $17.5 million over five years, with a $5.5 million signing bonus and incentives that could add another $500,000 per year to the deal.
Givens, a former seventh-round draft pick who is just 25, didn't have the age factor working against him as McGinest did. But there were key numbers involved. With the Patriots, Givens was the No. 2 receiver, behind Deion Branch, who's in line for a huge raise when his contract expires after the 2006 season. Tennessee offered Givens No. 1 receiver money, knowing they'd have to overpay him to win this particular auction. But in New England, they don't pay No. 2 receivers No. 1 money, because then you have to blow up the salary scale twice, for Givens and again when you attempt to re-sign Branch.
And then, of course, there's the iconic Vinatieri, who will likely elicit the loudest hue and cry of all if he joins the ranks of the ex-Patriots in the days ahead. The veteran kicker, who is set to visit Green Bay on Friday, is seeking to become the NFL's first $3 million per-year kicker, with a signing bonus topping the $3 million that ex-Packers kicker Ryan Longwell got when he signed with NFC North rival Minnesota last weekend.
The Patriots could have franchised Vinatieri for the third year in a row, but it would have meant paying him a $3 million salary. New England's thinking is that while it was willing to fork over $2.5 million to Vinatieri in 2005, another $500,000 puts him about $1 million over the going rate for the game's best kickers (Longwell received $2 million per year from the Vikings). That's a 50 percent premium the Patriots don't seem willing to pay, which is perhaps why Vinatieri talks about New England in the past tense, as if he's already gone.
But you have to wonder, is $500,000 -- or less than half of one percent of the $102 million salary cap -- worth losing perhaps the greatest clutch kicker of all time, and the player whose right foot decided the first two of New England's three recent Super Bowl victories? And will anyone remember the front office's financial discipline next November, when Vinatieri's replacement (let's say, Paul Edinger) misses a last-second 46-yarder in freezing rain at Gillette Stadium, with the Pats losing by two points to the first-place Dolphins?
It's a fair question that should be asked now, before events render it second-guessing. If New England does lose Vinatieri, that could be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back, as the cumulative weight of the Patriots' personnel losses reveal a tipping point that has been long avoided. How much is too much inflexibility? Is it ever time to break the bank for the right reasons and the right player?
As the Duane Starks and Chad Brown acquisitions last offseason proved, the Patriots aren't perfect. But they are consistent. They don't have a magic formula, just a plan. And they stubbornly stick with it, at almost all costs.
But until they fail, dragging their record down because of it, how can you fault them for their logic or their track record? They bid farewell to McGinest and Givens and may lose Vinatieri and the venerable Troy Brown for the same reasons they unemotionally cut ties with the likes of Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, Damien Woody and Joe Andruzzi in the past: because they thought it was the right call in every case.
And let's remember this: The Patriots are rarely if ever big players early on in free agency, when the money flows the strongest and the signing bonuses tend to get silly. New England has been adept at working the market once the opening rush is over, identifying key role players and bargains who have greatly contributed to their Super Bowl teams.
Or have you forgotten how Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Bryan Cox, Larry Izzo, Bobby Hamilton, Roman Phifer, Otis Smith, Antowain Smith, Tyrone Poole, David Patten, Larry Centers, Mike Compton and Anthony Pleasant arrived in New England? Before their 2001 team won the Super Bowl in storybook fashion, the Patriots that offseason signed 18 free agents, bringing in a wave of mostly no-name or modest-salaried veteran talent. That model is largely still in place.
We have a long way to go in this free agency season, and I'm pretty confident the Patriots will be heard from before it's all said and done. You can count on them not to be flashy with their money or string together too many zeroes on their signing bonuses. And maybe looking back, we'll come to view the departures of McGinest, Givens and Vinatieri as the real beginning of the end for the NFL's most recent dynasty. The law of averages say it has to happen at some point.
But it hasn't yet. And that's why you have to give the Patriots the benefit of the doubt at this time of year. Even when the doubters are starting to outnumber the believers.
Thanks Frenchy! One of the other guys posted this somewhere back down the board, but the occasional duplicate of something this good doesn't hurt!
You may not speak great English, but your mind works like Messieur Pasteur or Messieur Voltaire...
Enchanté frenchypatsfan, Merci beaucoup...............Bonne nuit.
Learned some French in grade school (NUNS :eek: ). They started teaching it to us in the 1st grade no less. I never liked it then but being 1/2 French(Canadian) I am okay with it now.
Get that post count up Frenchy...10 since January...you have more game in you!!!
Frenchy, j'ai appris le francais jusqu'au niveau du bac. Je pourrais traduire ce que vous ne comprenez pas assez bien.
Looks like Monsieur Banks has been reading our message boards hasn't he!
gomezcat: se parli il francese dovresti parlare pure l'italiano...giusto ?
p.s = very nice article - i agree.
Should be required reading for all those non believers and fans who think the sky is falling.
Nice. This is the first reporting of what the Patriots offered Givens that I've seen. Worked out to 3.5 million per year w/ incentives. That's a fair offer and by no means a "low ball."
Before anyone is allowed to post here it that article should be mandatory reading. Merci beaucoup, Frenchy! :rocker:
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