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Pats Off-season Review (Pre-Free Agency Edition) - Defense

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by DaBruinz, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Well, this is my 1st off-season review for this year. Call it the Pre-Free Agency / Pre-Combine review. For the purpose of this review, I am going to consider ERFA and RFA as part of the team.



    NT – Vince Wilfork, Michael Wright, LeKevan Smith, Santonio Thomas– The Pats drafted LeKevan Smith last year and he saw a few snaps. Nothing exciting. Santonio Thomas spent the entire year on the Practice Squad. Wilfork and Wright were the main-stays at NT, though I think that Wright is better suited to DE and getting more snaps.

    I don’t see the Pats drafting a DT unless he is better than LeKevan Smith, Santonio Holmes and Marquis Hill.
    Free Agents: Mike Wright (ERFA)

    DE – Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Jarvis Green, Marquise Hill - I have to admit that Marquis Hill needs to be considered a bust. I held out hope that the kid would get it together, but it just hasn’t happened. Ty Warren, in my estimation, has passed Seymour as the best Pats D-lineman. The coaches credited him with 117 tackles last season, though the NFL only credited him with 87. Wait a minute, 87? HOLY damn. Most NFL Linemen only get 40-50 and he surpassed that by 60-100%. Maybe it was because teams were doubling up Seymour, but it didn’t look like it. Warren, Seymour and Wilfork are amongst the best D-linemen in the league.

    I don’t see the Pats drafting anyone unless they believe that person is better than Marquise Hill AND Mike Wright.
    Free Agents:None

    OLB – Rosie Colvin, Mike Vrabel, Pierre Woods,– The TBC experiment didn’t pan out. He was only ok against the run and didn’t produce enough presence off the edge to be a full-time starter. Rumors have it that the Pats won’t be bringing him back and the Jets are planning to make him a substantial offer. More power to them, I say.
    Mike Vrabel and Rose Colvin were good when they played together, however, that didn’t happen once Seau went down and Vrabel had to move back inside. Woods showed promise on special teams and could become a starter one day.

    Free Agents mentioned to give the team an infusion here include Adalius Thomas and Carlos Polk.
    Free Agents: Tully Banta-Cain (UFA)

    ILB - Tedy Bruschi, Eric Alexander, Corey Mays – Another off-season and another time for us to say that the Pats are WOEFULLY thin here. What makes matters worse is that Eric Alexander proved that he’s not up to the task of going against the better TEs in the league. Also, there are rumors that Tedy is contemplating retirement, though will probably be back.
    The problem is who to bring in. There are very few players with the talent to play ILB in the Pats system. Bringing Seau back is a definite option as the defense was great against the run with him in there. The problem is that Seau, Bruschi nor Alexander can cover TEs. That leaves the Pats to find someone who can.

    One free agent that I would love the Pats to sign is Jarrett Johnson. He’s smart, versatile (DE/ILB/OLB) and doesn’t make many mistakes. He filled in admirably for Ray Lewis at MLB in the Ravens defense this past year and many people compare him to a young Mike Vrabel but for the ILB position.

    Free Agents: Larry Izzo (UFA), Don Davis (UFA), Junior Seau (UFA), Barry Gardner (UFA), Corey Mays (ERFA), Eric Alexander (ERFA)

    CB - Randall Gay, Ellis Hobbs, Antwain Spann, Gemara Williams - What the Pats do hinges on whether they put the franchise tag on Asante Samuel. With the weakness of the draft and the relative weakness of the free agency class at CB, Asante is worth 6yrs/$44 million in my eyes. Even with his lousy tackling. There just isn’t a lot of help out there.

    Nick Harper was mentioned, but I don’t want any Colts players, honestly.

    Free Agents: Asante Samuel (UFA), Randall Gay (RFA), Gemara Williams (ERFA), Antwain Spann (ERFA), Chad Scott (UFA), Ray Mickens (UFA)

    Safety - Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson, James Sanders, Artrell Hawkins, Mel Mitchell, Tebucky Jones, Willie Andrews, Ray Ventrone, Rashad Baker-
    Rodney went down due to a low blow by Bobby Wade. Sanders stepped in and was above average. Artrell Hawkins did well last year, but, by the end of the season this year, he was getting burned badly. Willie Andrews was amazing on special teams and really helped the kick-off and punt coverage units excel.

    Eugene Wilson may get moved to CB if he doesn’t show the same killer attitude he did during his rookie and sophomore years. Ever since he broke his arm during SB 39, he’s been gunshy and not nearly the player he was.
    Mel Mithcell, Tebucky Jones, and Ray Ventrone all were on the IR and joined by Wilson not long into the season.

    Ken Hamlin and Tank Williams are probably two of the bigger names out there. As is Kevin Kaesviharn (though he’s been cheap-shotting a lot). Deon Grant and Jon McGraw could get looks by the Pats as well.

    Free Agents: Rashad Baker (RFA), Ray Ventrone (ERFA)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  2. 363839

    363839 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Hey Dabruinz. Regarding Seymour's perfomance for 06. I'd LIKE to think that his drop in production was due to injury. Elbow and knee, I believe.
    Do you think he can return to his former self when he returns to camp rested and healed?
  3. satz

    satz Rookie

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    seymour played the whole year injured and against good OL he sufferred.He already had surgery and i am sure hope he will be back in full force.

    WIth him ,vince and ty health we should be good with mike green in rotation.I would like a NT to give vince a break.wright is a little small for it.

    ILB - Get donnie edwards he is lighter but can cover faster TE.Shore it up with bru+seau in rotation with a rookie thrown in their.I still believe this is the way to go.Eric alexander is quite young and got his first start against peyton and clark - i believe he should get more snaps and will improve alot over the offseason.He will work on to prevent getting burned by TE.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2007
  4. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    I enjoyed reading all three of your posts. Guess I won't have to buy Patriots

    Football Weekly this month.
  5. Miguel

    Miguel Patriots Salary Cap Guru PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    If there was any doubt that PatsFans.Com is the place to be for insightful discussion on our favorite NFL team, DaBruinz' posts just erased them.
  6. stinkypete

    stinkypete Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    I've been hearing about Jarret Johnson alot on here lately. I'm not very familiar with him, but he sounds intriguing. Anybody know any scouting information on him?

    This is the type of FA I see us bringing in, along with a bigger name, more veteran player, to shore up the linebackers. Hopefully he is more of a Vrabel and less of a Beisel.
  7. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I actually like this draft for CB. There's a solid 4-5 CB I would consider as solid late first rounders and most of them are expected to drop to within striking range if we chose to trade up a little.
  8. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 Rookie

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    Yes, CB in FA is weak... I think we should draft DBs.

    And yes, we are woefully think at ILB.
  9. ayjackson

    ayjackson Rookie

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    Nice post DaBruinz. Though, I'm a little skeptical of your condemnation of Alexander's ability to cover a tight end. Are you going on something more than the AFC Championship game? Isn't he a converted SS? It was Clark. He may have been sick. He certainly wasn't used to being on the field that much. I'm inclined give him a little more tether. BB doesn't teach linebackers for two to three years just to give up after one tough half of football.
  10. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Even Last year I felt that Warren was under-rated by everyone and that he out-played Seymour. It could just be my perception. Don't get me wrong. I love Seymour, but I think Warren is better.

    As for Alexander, he finally cracked the line-up because the Pats didn't have anyone else. Bruschi has lost a step and doesn't cover as well. Vrabel doesn't cover as well either. And neither does Colvin. We can figure on facing the Colts every year because of the talent of both teams. If we don't have someone who can cover clark, be it a safety or a LB, then the Pats will get burned every time.

    BTW, It was Aaron Moorehead who burned Alexander on one play. Moorehead is the Colts 3rd TE.
  11. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    I like the review, when you look at it in print it is amazing they only allowed 14.6 PPG with all of the backups that were forced into action. Looking forward once you move past the DL there are an awful lot of questions. So much hinges on Samuel, we should know within the first week of free agency, begins March 2, if the Pats make any splashes. My wish is that Samuel is franchised with the hope a long-term deal is signed and BB uses his charm at the probowl to sway A. Thomas over...

    My only comment on the D is that not all the position can be filled by FAs, it is unlikely we can bring in a veteran FA ILB, OLB, S and sign Samuel.

    More and more I think Samuel walks and they use this year to re-build the LB core. It seems that players from college can come in and contribute in the secondary much faster than LBs. CB is a very expensive position, especially compared against LB. I am leaning towards 2 veteran LBs with the secondary reinforcements coming via the draft.

    If you has to guess which FAs do you think stick?
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    With 24.6 Million in cap space, I think that the Pats CAN do all of the above. I don't foresee them spending a TON on a guy like Jarrett Johnson. Maybe a 3 year deal worth 7-9 million total. I don't think that the likes of Hamlin or Grant are going to command more than 3-4 mill a year. If the Pats could get Thomas for 6 million, that would like about 10-12 million for draft picks and other players.
  13. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    I think it will be tough... 24.6 is a lot but not a ton in this wacky new world of FAs.

    Defense
    Johnson - 3
    Hamlin or Grant -3
    Thomas - 6
    Samuel - 7

    Offense
    Graham - 4
    Bennett or Curtis - 4-5

    Draft picks - 4-6
    Scrap heap - 4-6

    Minimum of $35 M+, some positions are going to be filled through the draft or by minimum contract type vets.
  14. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    I have no question that the pats could fit it the six free agents you mention. As you say, it is a matter of cap mechanics.

    Jag veteran free agents cost less than $100K each, call it $500K. The rooks, player 52 and 53, practice squad and injury fund add about a net of $6M. That leaves us with $20M for free agents if we want. Consider the following 1st year contracts all for four years.

    Net first year salary $1.0M ($1.3M less the $300K for the player replaced in the top 51)
    25% of $10M bonus $2.5M (or 20% of $12.5M bonus on a 5-year)
    total $3.5M


    The rest of the salaries and 2nd or 3rd year bonuses don't affect the 2006 cap.
    So the 6 could be had, if they averaged $3.333M net cap space each. If we actually got all six to come, pioli would find any additional needed cap money. There are still restructures available.

    Personally, I don't think the patriots have any intention of signing six of the top free agents, or rather six free agents in the total price ranges that these players would require. Three to four players seems much closer to the mark. The rest of the help will come from the draft.

    The question for me is how many mid-level free agents are brought in. The cap cost might be $2.5M, but the total cost would be much less.

    1st off, the top 51 rule is in affect. Second, I doubt that Graham is going to cost 4 million against the cap regardless of the contract he signs. Just like Thomas, Samuel and Hamlin wouldn't cost what you say. The 1st year of the contract is the signing bonus year. So you figure the pro-rated bonus and a very low salary.

    I am not saying they are certainties by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be done.

    BTW, the Pats don't need 4-6 million for scrap heap players. Again, the Top 51 rule is in affect.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2007
  15. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    I think that's what most of these guys would have cost in 2006 as FAs. In 2007 with all of the cap room teams have their prices may rise. Some teams who have been down for a while may throw around stupid money.

    Remember Givens got 6/year and he's not as good as Grant, Thomas or Samuel at their positions. This could be a crazy year.
  16. patsfan55

    patsfan55 Rookie

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    #95 Jersey

    i too, have felt the last couple yrs that warren was starting to catch up to and surpass big sey
    you hit on it here but didnt mention in ur original post that the safeties also, not just ilbs were being beat by the te

    also, finally finally someone else saying what i was saying by stating that artrell hawkins was gettin burned badly at the end of the yr

    and i too, feel like geno could move back to cb
    especially if asante is gone
    i mean the guy has the ability, and obv has produced in the past, so if he cant play at that high level anymore at safety, why not try him at corner?
  17. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    DEFENSIVE LINE
    We have a fine five man rotation, with five starters and backups. But we play a 3-4 and it's a long game without a sixth to give guys a breather, and a long season without an OK seventh.

    OK, who thinks we don't need an upgrade from Smith, Hill and Thomas? Shouldn't be bring in players or a draftee to compete with these three for the two available roster spots. To put it another way, are you comfortable in our depth if any one of the five is injured?

    INSIDE LINEBACKER
    Which of the free agents are we bringing back? Seau? Gardner?
    I agree that we should make a go at the best ILB we can get in free agency.
    How bad are we with Bruschi, Seau, Alexander,Gardner and Mays? personally I think we are one free agent short. In the end, I think we'll be fine.

    OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
    IMHO, we have more of a problem at OLB. We have no depth. Woods is a maybe and that's all there is.

    CORNER
    The tag just decides when Samuels is officially off the team. We need to sign him or presume he's gone. How bad are we with Hobbs, Scott, Gay and Wilson? We've won with a lot less. However, I think we should bring in at least two. If we realize that Wilson is injury-prone safety and Gay hasn't played for the last two season, then we understand how serious this is. I would being in two free agents PLUS draft two early.

    SAFETY
    I'm fine with Hawkins, Sanders, Harrison, Jones, Mitchell, Andrews and possibly Wilson. We have much more serious needs.

  18. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    Givens didn't get 6 million a year. Givens received a 5 year/$24 Million contract. That's 4.875 million a year.

    Those prices are for 2007, not 2006.
  19. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    ILB: I see Fletcher being signed. He has patriot envy after losing to them yearly, plus two members of the Pats staff are his college buddies. He would feel comfortable, play for a winner, and stick it to a Buffalo team he felt treated him poorly last season. If Edgerton Hartwell is cut he is an option. His torn achilles (which happened vs. the Pats in '05) usually takes a full season to recover (see Julian Peterson). Those two signings, plus drafting a young ILB prospect who could have a year to develop before seeing significant action (I like Siler, D. Harris, Tim Shaw as prospects), would do alot to shore up the ILB position.

    OLB: TBC is a difficult call. He beat D. Ferguson in the playoff game for 2 sacks, but there is no denying the defense suffered vs. the run after his insertion into the lineup. The drop off was dramatic. Where the blame lies can be debated, but the results were bleak. I would like to see a dynamic player at OLB for the Pats, a player who can change games and force an offense to game plan. None of the Pats OLBs does that. The only free agent who could have that kind of impact is Adalius Thomas, though he is already close to 30 years old. The Pats pattern is not to invest too heavily in players of that age, and Thomas will demand top dollar. Prospects in the draft who may provide a long term answer are Jarvis Moss, A. Spencer, J. Moore. However, none of them is likely to help next season in a meaningful way... and even if they could the Pats don't often give a rookie that kind of playing time barring injury to a vet. My recommendation is to move Vrabel back to OLB, leave the OLB corps as is, and draft a dynamic young player who can be the position's bridge to the future. My preference is Spencer, a player of freakish strength who can rush the passer and hold the point of attack.

    CB: With his wrist injury fully healed, I believe Hobbs can be a #1 cb as soon as next season. This gives the Pats flexibility with Samuel. I feel they should franchise him, then either let him prove himself to be more than a one year wonder, or trade him for a #1 pick. If the Pats trade Samuel, drafting a cb who can at least contribute at nickel in Year 1 becomes crucial. Leon Hall is dropping in the draft due to perceived speed issues. While other cbs may have more raw talent, Leon is a coachable technician who can get on the field right away and contribute, and will not suffer culture shock: he is used to playing in big games vs big time talent. Other options in the draft who might provide instant impact at nickelback are Revis if he drops, Jonathan Wade, AJ Davis, Chris Houston and David Irons. When the Pats drafted Willie Andrews, there were reports they were gleeful, that he was a steal, a player who could transition to CB in the NFL, not just safety. Andrews stated in mid-season that this year he was being groomed. I have hopes he can play nickel, right corner or FS next season.

    Safety: James Sanders is a competent starting SS. Thus far he does not appear to be game changer. While a reliable tackler, he is not an intimidator. At free safety Artrell is a communicator and solid tackler, though he at times takes bad angles and can mis-step (for a player playing in that much space, such mistakes are common). Clearly there is no Ed Reed on this team. I have no expectations that Rodney will last a full season, as his body seems to have become brittle. Still, a safety corps of Rodney, Sanders, Hawkins, Geno and Willie Andrews is respectable. With Geno and Rodney likely in their last years with the team, some depth in the draft could help build a bridge to the future. Josh Gattis of Wake Forest plays like a raw Kerry Rhodes. He would probably be available in rd 3, since he failed to impress with his man coverage skills vs. WRs at the senior bowl. However, his athleticism is not in doubt: as a 60 meter hurdles runner he has first class leaping ability and coordination, combined with 4.4 caliber playing speed.

    DL: I agree with DaBRuinz that Warren has displaced Seymour as King of the Mountain. Those who argue that Seymour "was injured" just make the point: Seymour is not durable. He is always injured. Warren is almost never injured, and if he is, he plays well through it. Durability is as important as talent, because durable players like turtles win the race. I see no issues with the quality of the D-line, although the Warren contract situation is about to rear its head. Warren should stay a Patriot for life. A project draft pick who may be a better option than Hill, Thomas, or Smith is Joe Anoiai from GT, an underrated Dt who was the unknown centerpiece of GTech's dominant defense. He was constantly doubled while the usual flashy GTech Lbers made impact plays. His size and stoutness at the POA lend itself to the 3-4 as a late round pick who could surprise.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2007
  20. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    I am glad that this series of posts generated a lot of discussion..

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