May 24, 2004
Offseason Turmoil Despite A Title For The Patriots
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
People say that winning cures everything. Apparently a Superbowl Trophy, the ultimate prize in the NFL, wasn't quite enough to prevent offseason turmoil in New England.
Patriots cornerback Ty Law has two years remaining on his current contract, the final of which would likely see him become a salary cap casualty. Law has made it known in many published reports that after having a solid season last year he was hoping to get a contract extension that would have included a pay increase. Instead he and his agent couldn't reach an agreement with the team and he's made it clear he felt that the negotiations apparently were unfair. He's accused head coach Bill Belichick of not being truthful and even going so far as to call his coach a "liar".
In a recent interview on WEEI agent Law's agent, Carl Poston, said that the cornerback apparently had preliminary discussions with Belichick regarding an extension, but when it came time for Poston to sit down at the negotiating table Law didn't like how the early meetings went.
"All he wanted to do was talk to Bill about 'What are your plans,'" Poston said in the interview. "'Am I going to be here, are you going to extend my contract, or are you going to let me go because I know I've got a high cap number? That's when Bill said, 'No, you're going to be here, $15.6 million guaranteed, and let's go ahead and pursue that.'"
Later when the the Patriots' front office offered less money, although Poston obviously realized it was a negotiating ploy, Law apparently wasn't too happy about it. "I told Ty, this is just a beginning," Poston said. "But he said 'They're not even beginning where they said they were beginning!"
However there are many who believe that had the negotiations been kept between Poston and the Patriots front office, the situation may not have become as ugly as it has and the two sides may have been able to eventually come to an agreement. According to published reports the numbers that Poston and Law were looking for from the Patriots apparently weren't that far off from what the team was reportedly offering, but what Law heard initially was enough to make him want to play elsewhere and instead he's voiced his displeasure to the media and the negotiations are now over.
But trouble was also apparently brewing even prior to last season.
In a published report in the Boston Herald on Sunday, Law felt that Belichick left him out to dry when he failed to tell reporters the reason he was on the sidelines the first week of training camp last year.
"You [the media] were writing that I failed the conditioning run, right?" Law told the newspaper in a recent conversation. "Hell. I had had groin surgery. Surgery. And [Belichick] didn't back me once. He just let it hang out there without saying a word. I was dying to say something. So I had the groin thing. Then after the season started I had the (high) ankle (sprain). Then I tore an abdominal muscle. Some guys don't play hurt, never mind injured. I play injured. And then they throw that stuff at me (in the contract talks)? That's when I was like, ‘Let me out of here.'"
But he's not going anywhere. He's under contract for two more seasons, and with training camp two months away he knows he'll need to come to work while finding a way to put the differences he and Belichick have behind them.
"[Our relationship will be] like it always is," Law told Steve Burton in an interview on Sports Final Sunday Night when asked about how his first interaction with Belichick will go when camp starts.
"Hey, what's up Bill, how you doing ...[I'll] shake his hand and acknowledge him as a head coach trying to defend his championship."
Law also told Burton that he believes Belichick will shake his hand when the two meet again.
"Why not? I mean, if you're a professional, why not? I mean, we're here now, no sense in arguing on the field. We're trying to defend a championship."
TROUBLE WITH WEIS AND BELICHICK?
The situation between Charlie Weis and the Patriots is one that could cause any fan to scratch their heads.
As the old saying goes, "If it's not broken, why try to fix it?". Winning two championships in three seasons certainly would make you think that everything was working just fine and there was no need to change it, but apparently that may not be the case after negotiations between Weis and the Patriots on an extension have come to a screeching halt.
"It would be strange if he were to return after this season," Weis' agent, Bob LaMonte, told the Providence Journal recently. "Given the present state of negotiations it's highly unlikely."
One week ago LaMonte told the Boston Globe that Weis would not return to the Patriots if the team wouldn't make him one of the league's more highly-paid coordinators. Weis reportedly now draws a middle-of-the-road $500,000 from the Patriots while a number of coordinators league-wide are making more than twice as much.
"We tried to reach an agreement and corporately the Patriots decided against it," LaMonte told the Journal. "So for Charlie, all he can do is work as hard as he can, devote himself and know he will not be back next year."
LaMonte's also told the newspaper the Patriots stated reason for not paying Weis is because a larger salary doesn't fit with their "corporate structure."
It's doubtful that's the case. Despite the fact the team has won two championships under Weis' offense, his playcalling has taken quite a bit of criticism over the past three seasons. In 2001 the team was 19th in the NFL in total yards while scoring just three offensive touchdowns during the postseason en-route to their eventual title.
In 2002 they finished 21st in total yards and missed the postseason, and last season they finished 17th in the league in total yards. Of their fifteen wins last season, eight were decided by 8-points or less. Maybe Belichick feels that the team left a lot on the table and won in spite of Weis' play calling. Maybe it's just because they feel there's no point in paying him more if he won't be back next season if he takes a head coaching job.
But this talk of an "organizational philosophy" of not paying coordinators top dollar just seems foolish. Eventually they'll need to hire someone to replace him, unless the team's long-term plans are promoting from within. However to send the message that top coordinators won't be compensated as such in New England just doesn't seem to make any sense.
Whatever the reason that the Pats front office won't "show Weis the money", the situation certainly is enough to make you scratch your head.
NO BYE, NO BRADY?
In a recent issue of ESPN The Magazine it was reported that while the offseason has allowed Tom Brady's surgically repaired right shoulder to recover, it seems that wasn't the only serious injury the New England quarterback had to fight through last season. Apparently a hard helmet hit he suffered against the Bills late last season left his knee so swollen that he'd have missed the first week of the postseason had the Patriots not had a bye. According to the magazine the injury, which was kept secret during the team's title run, is now reportedly 100% healed.
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