Four Downs
Offseason analysis of the NFL, division by division

Four Downs: AFC East

by Bill Barnwell

Buffalo Bills

You could make several arguments about who the heart of the Bills defense was in 2006. One train of thought would say that middle linebacker and defensive playcaller London Fletcher-Baker set the tone for the team in the center of the field, recording 146 tackles and four picks. Another, perhaps, would venture to say that stud cornerback Nate Clements gave the Bills comfort that one side of the field would shut be down, as Clements and the Bills held #1 wide receivers to a -25.0% DVOA, third in the league. A third might even point to the player on Fletcher-Baker's right, Takeo Spikes, who set an inspirational tone while spending the whole year struggling through injuries.

Pick whoever you want, but it doesn't really matter now. They're all gone.

The big move was Clements, whose new eight year, $80 million contract with the 49ers has a whopping $22 million in guaranteed money coming to, arguably, the second-best cornerback in football. The move is a serious one for the Bills; while they were third against #1 wide receivers, they ranged from 17th to 27th against other receivers. While there's no one on the market who the Bills can replace Clements with, they haven't even made a single move as of yet to patch up the secondary. The player whom this move impacts the most, really, is free safety Ko Simpson. The fourth-rounder had the luxury of being covered for in 2006, but in 2007, he'll be expected to cover other people's mistakes.

His fellow second-year safety, on the other hand, will be covering for the players in front of him. Donte Whitner had a year well-regarded by Bills brass, but he'll be expected to do a lot more now that two starting linebackers are gone. Fletcher-Baker left for the questionably greener pastures of Washington, signing a five-year, $25 million deal. While he's not likely to see the end of that deal (when he would be turning 37), Fletcher-Baker has yet to miss a game in his career, a valuable asset for a Redskins team with no appreciative depth at linebacker. The Bills are yet to replace Fletcher-Baker with anyone, and their starter at middle linebacker for the moment is the unheralded John DiGiorgio. Get your delivery puns ready, Sunday Night highlight crews.

Spikes, on the other hand, was dealt to Philadelphia alongside backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb, with defensive tackle Darwin Walker coming in return. Walker's a good pass-rusher from the interior and fits the Bills mold of quick, slightly undersized defensive linemen. Walker will rotate around the defensive line along with Larry Tripplett and 2006 first-rounder John McCargo, who missed most of his rookie campaign with a broken foot. Spikes is likely to be replaced by backup Angelo Crowell, who started in an injured Spikes' stead in '05. Either way, the Bills front seven is extremely likely to suffer.

Those moves are all more damaging than the one that received the most coverage this off-season: Willis McGahee, after a Penthouse interview burying Buffalo, was dealt to Baltimore for a pair of third-round picks. McGahee has the cachet of being a star running back, but he isn't. Astute observers would note that his two 100-yard games in 2006 came against the Jets, who had the worst rush defense in football last season. His DVOA, which has remained remarkably consistent for his three seasons (0.4% in 2004, -1.3% in 2005, and -1.6% in 2006), isn't the stuff of star players -- it's the home of guys like Vernard Morency, Greg Jones, and Artrose Pinner. While the price the Ravens paid wasn't that expensive, the contract they gave McGahee was. Durability concerns alone would make the contract ill-advised, but the running back the Ravens are getting is not the one they're paying for.

In lieu of replacing McGahee with an expensive running back, the Bills seem to be investing their leftover money in the offensive line. Three offensive linemen have made it over to Buffalo this off-season, with the most prominent being Redskins guard Derrick Dockery. Dockery received a seven year, $49 million contract, or in relative terms, about .92 Hutchison. Dockery will be entrusted with creating holes in the middle and keeping interior rushers off of J.P. Losman's sorta-blind side in 2007. The Redskins offensive line was rather good at running toward and behind Dockery in '06, ranking fifth in the league in adjusted line yards to left tackle and seventh to the middle of the field and at guard. They also ran a much higher percentage of plays to the left side than the right, which could speak some about their confidence in Dockery. On the other hand, Dockery won't have Chris Samuels to the left of him this year.

The Bills also brought in Langston Walker from Oakland and Jason Whittle from Minnesota. The latter is a handy reserve, but not someone who should be relied upon to start for any lengthy period of time; Walker was part of the much-maligned offensive line in Oakland, but he may have been one of the better parts, as Oakland ranked ninth in running at right tackle in 2006. Of course, Oakland had the worst pass protection by a large margin in 2006, and Walker was a huge factor. He tied Robert Gallery in allowing eleven sacks, and committed eight penalties for 55 yards on the campaign. On the other hand, Walker has blocked five kicks in his career, so maybe the Bills plan to get their Frank Beamer on.

Overall, while the Bills are a team with several very good young players in the lineup, it's hard to make any sort of argument that the Bills did anything but dramatically regress in 2006. The goal of a team with any desire to win is to hold onto players like Clements, not let them go. While letting McGahee go was the right move, the lack of a ready-made replacement will hurt the Bills some simply by giving them another position to fill.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

This is a team with lots of gigantic holes to be filled. Replacing Fletcher-Baker and Spikes is probably the most pressing need, as the least amount of depth exists behind them at the moment. While the Bills have been linked to California running back Marshawn Lynch with the 12th overall pick, it would be repeating the same mistake they made when they drafted McGahee. It's simply not that difficult to find an effective running back. Middle linebacker Patrick Willis is the best selection to fill the Bills' needs. While drafting a halfback wouldn't be a disaster, the Bills would be smart to wait till 2008 and save their money for Michael Turner (although rumors have him visiting Buffalo this week).

Bringing in another corner would seem to be on the Bills' list, but with second-year corner Ashton Youboty the expected starter in 2007 across from Terrence McGee, the Bills might want to bring in a veteran as opposed to another rookie. Former Bengals corner Tory James might make sense as a veteran mentor. Finally, a real wide receiver to play across from Lee Evans would be nice. No, Peerless Price, you don't count when you average eight yards per reception. While there are red flags on Antonio Bryant's record, he'd be a value pickup and, if Willis McGahee is right, there's not really many places to go and get in trouble at in Buffalo, anyway.

Miami Dolphins

Free agency has seen the Dolphins lose several useful spare parts and replace them with different ones, but the moves they have made aren't likely to dramatically impact the team's performance in 2007.

New England, in some sort of parting grab at Nick Saban, signed Wes Welker and Sammy Morris away from the Dolphins, with Welker's RFA status netting the Dolphins second- and seventh-round picks. Welker's loss will hurt the Dolphins some, but his skill set is relatively easy to find: There are a lot of guys willing to go over the middle and catch eight yard in-patterns for the minimum salary, and very few of them cost second-round picks. The Dolphins will actually come out ahead on the move in the long run. Morris was a player whom the Dolphins always seemed to want to include in the running game, but the second that they actually gave him the ball, they immediately regretted it and took it away. The Dolphins signed former Lions fullback Cory Schlesinger, who's on the downside of his career but should be equal to the task of replacing Morris' production on special teams and as a blocker.

The offensive line saw underrated left tackle Damion McIntosh leave, with Kansas City signing him to a six-year contract. It's worth noting that when McIntosh played left tackle in 2005, the Dolphins were fifth in the league at running behind left end and first behind left tackle. In addition, when McIntosh returned to left tackle in 2006, the team's offensive line play improved markedly. While McIntosh is not a star, he'll be a useful part on an always-excellent line in Kansas City. The Dolphins signed Chris Liwienski and Seth McKinney in free agency, hoping the former can return to tackle without too much of a drop off. It's unlikely to work out.

Tight end Randy McMichael also left the side, re-joining former Dolphins coach Scott Linehan in St. Louis on a three-year, $11 million contract. After trying to trade McMichael, the Dolphins saved themselves from a $3 million roster bonus by cutting him. His move to St. Louis also allows him to join Leonard Little in some sort of NFL Repeat Offender Scumbag Crew. Replacing McMichael in Miami is former Packers tight end David Martin, who posted a better DVOA than McMichael in 2005 and has shown signs he could be an effective starter. For the Dolphins, the money budgeted for McMichael is probably better spent elsewhere, so this isn't a bad move.

The Dolphins' big move, though, was signing Joey Porter from the Steelers. The always controversial and sometimes half-shirted Porter has had a quiet off-season outside of beating up Levi Jones at the Palms in Las Vegas. See, he's already better than McMichael! While Porter is yet to be charged with anything beyond misdemeanor battery, there's nothing in the Basic Strategy books I've read that say punching NFL left tackles helps you win. As for Porter's football abilities and how they will affect the Dolphins defense in 2007, there was talk around the league that Porter's ability to beat blockers in one-on-one situations was on the wane.

(Editor's Note: Except in night clubs.)

Moving from the Steelers 3-4 to the mixed Dolphins scheme, Porter is likely to be employed in a fashion that's out of his comfort zone. The differences between the two schemes are too big for people to accurately say how Porter will adjust, but expect him to struggle some at the beginning of the season.

A smaller move also saw the Dolphins ditch long-time kicker Olindo Mare, whose accuracy has been on the wane, for Giants kicker Jay Feely. Finally, quarterback Joey Harrington was released, leaving Cleo Lemon and the ghost of Daunte Culpepper on the roster.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

There's been significant talk of Miami trading for Trent Green, which shows the lack of confidence that the Dolphins have in Daunte Culpepper ever becoming a useful quarterback again. Whatever assets would need to go to Kansas City in exchange for Green should be used to restock the rest of the roster. Signing David Carr would have been a better move, but he's gone to Carolina.

There are very few positions on this roster that don't require some sort of upgrade. Even the Dolphins' position of strength, their defensive line, is aging and needs fresh blood. A good place to start, though, would be wide receiver, where Chris Chambers celebrated a festival of incompletes and Marty Booker is aging. At the ninth pick, however, Ted Ginn or Robert Meachem would be a reach. That's all right -- the Dolphins can trade down and use the extra picks to restock their defensive line and grab someone like David Harris to eventually replace Zach Thomas in the middle of the Dolphins' defense.

New England Patriots

March saw the Patriots, for the first time under Bill Belichick, really open up the purse strings. While the Morris and Welker moves were discussed above, the happy surprise for Patriots fans was the five-year, $35 million contract given to Adalius Thomas to breathe some life into a decaying Patriots linebacker corps. While there's every reason to believe that Thomas will succeed in New England, he might be perceived as a failure in his debut season. What the Patriots need more than anything else is a linebacker who can cover running backs (whom the Patriots ranked 22nd in the league defending against, a hole in their pass defense for years) and stop receivers coming over the middle (the Patriots gave up big games to guys like Welker and Mike Furrey, neither of whom are known for their ... deceptive quickness). As someone who's played cornerback and safety before, Thomas can do that, but the number Patriots fans are going to expect him to match is his 11 sacks for 2006. Don't expect Thomas to match that or be employed in a way that would allow him to do so. Thomas will take Tully Banta-Cain's spot in the lineup, with the overachieving seventh-round pick moving on to San Francisco.

The next big signing saw Donte' Stallworth arrive from Philadelphia on a six-year, $30 million contract with one year and $3.6 million guaranteed. Stallworth brings a downfield option that the Patriots simply didn't have last year; while Reche Caldwell averaged 12.5 yards per reception, Stallworth was up at 19.1. With Stallworth down the field and Welker and Ben Watson staking out territory over the middle, the rest of the Patriots wide receivers will be fighting for scraps; that's why fellow newcomer Kelley Washington might see more time on special teams than he will in the offense. Playoff hero Jabar Gaffney's roster spot might come down to the health of Chad Jackson, who tore his ACL in the AFC Championship Game; Gaffney's aversion to special teams isn't likely to play well when Belichick is finalizing his roster in September.

One loss in the receiving corps was tight end Daniel Graham, who'd developed into a useful player by the end of his tenure in New England, if not one worthy of a first-round pick. Signed by Denver, he was replaced by Belichick's white whale from 1995, Kyle Brady, who signed a two-year deal. Brady will be expected to fulfill Graham's blocking role, while David Thomas' role in the passing offense will increase.

Corey Dillon also requested and received his release, a move not likely to dramatically affect the Patriots unless Laurence Maroney struggles in returning from off-season shoulder surgery. Perceptions of Dillon's performance last year were inflated by games where he'd score lots of cheap fantasy points (the nine carries for 25 yards and three touchdowns game against Detroit comes to mind) but not really deliver much on his carries. He ranked 21st in the league in DVOA, a far cry from his championship-caliber 2004. Dillon's hidden strength was his excellent pass blocking, but those responsibilities are likely to be picked up by Morris. As for Maroney, remember that "the Boston Herald didn't report until yesterday that Maroney had shoulder surgery" does not mean the same thing as "the Patriots didn't know until yesterday until Maroney had shoulder surgery."

Finally, Asante Samuel was tagged as the team's Franchise Player. The failure to sign him to a long-term contract in 2006 was almost unquestionably the wrong move relative to the market when Nate Clements' contract and Samuel's playoff performance are considered. Assuming Samuel signs his franchise tender, Patriots fans have an excellent contract year and a bitter goodbye to look forward to.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

The Patriots own the 24th and 28th picks in the draft (draft value: 1400, equivalent to the #8 overall pick). Although they don't like drafting linebackers, their team desperately needs to alleviate the pressure being placed on the rapidly aging Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi. Moving Vrabel inside will help some, but both players have lost a step. Most mock drafts have linked the Patriots to Penn State outside linebacker Paul Posluszny, which pretty much ensures that the Patriots will not draft Paul Posluszny when the day comes. Go check and see how many mock drafts forecast Laurence Maroney and Logan Mankins the last two years. Besides, the Patriots really need an inside linebacker, not an outside one. The aforementioned Patrick Willis would fit, but he's unlikely to make it to #24, and the Patriots don't have a second-rounder to package in order to move up. An alternate move would be to draft a safety like Reggie Nelson or Michael Griffin to eventually replace Rodney Harrison in the secondary, with "eventually" likely meaning "sometime around Week 5." While some mocks have prescribed a running back, the Patriots already have four who can expect to see playing time in 2007 and are unlikely to draft one in the first round two years in a row.

New York Jets

The off-season after the pleasant surprise that was the Jets' 2006 has been quieter than anyone else's in the AFC East. The big move was the acquisition of Thomas Jones in a trade that swapped the 37th overall pick for the 63rd. Jones replaces the released Kevan Barlow, and represents a solid addition to the Jets offense; while he'll turn 29 before the season, he hasn't been worked particularly hard throughout his career, and his DVOA has been relatively consistent over the last few seasons. In fact, Jones is a similar-quality back to McGahee, but while Jones got a four-year, $20 million contract, McGahee got a seven-year, $40 million deal. Advantage, Jets.

Fullback B.J. Askew left the club as well. While he made some noise at the beginning of the free agency about wanting to play halfback, Askew moved to Tampa Bay, where he will be expected to play approximately no halfback. Darian Barnes has come over from Miami, and he'll compete with James Hodgins for the starting job if no one else makes their way over. The Jets also got a new backup quarterback, with Marques Tuiasosopo taking over for Patrick Ramsey.

The Jets also made several moves to shore up a porous defensive line. First was the acquisition of former Cowboys DE Kenyon Coleman, who signed a five-year contract. Coleman has experience playing in the 3-4 with Dallas, but his performance record doesn't seem to indicate much in the way of future difference-making. Next was the signing of Dolphins defensive end David Bowens, primarily a pass rusher with Miami and likely to fill the same role in New York. Former Bears first round pick Michael Haynes has also signed; while Haynes isn't likely to live up to his first-round selection, his signing represents a low-cost move with a lot of potential upside. Finally, former third overall pick Andre Wadsworth signed a contract for the minimum; Wadsworth hasn't played since 2000, when he underwent microfracture surgery. Hey, it's worth a shot.

Free Agency Remainders and Draft Needs

The Jets are in a comfortable position and can choose to go a number of different ways in the draft. The defensive line acquisitions seem to indicate that the Jets will try and shore up the line with free agents and hope that the incumbents improve. They could choose to draft a cornerback like Texas' Aaron Ross if faith in Justin Miller has waned too severely, or even go for local running back Brian Leonard, out of Rutgers, to provide a blocker for Jones.

Later this week: AFC North.

Comments

204 comments, Last at 16 Apr 2007, 10:52am

1 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Uh, Bill... a Mr. Harrison on line 1... something about a lack of respect...

2 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Uh, whoever the editor is---

if Levi Jones' version of that incident is true, it was actually Porter and six others vs one. So, yeah, Porter's ability to take someone on one-on-one is still in doubt. :D

3 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Why don't the Pats have a second rounder this year? I thought the Wes Walker trade is for a second rounder next year and not this.

4 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Well I'm grouchy too about letting both Spikes and LFB leave at the same time, but I don't think it's as bad as all that. The Bills needed to pay attention to their OL and DL first, and that's what they've been doing. If they do draft a running back in the first round, I'll be back to full-scale depression again.

5 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

In the third paragraph, I think it is supposed to be "appreciaBLE linebacker depth" instead of "appreciative", unless of course you mean the linebacker depth didn't say 'thank you' enough.
Good article.

6 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Kelley Washington might see more time on special teams than he will in the offense? The final knock on the squirrel in Cincinnati was that he could not play special teams because of his neck injury. I don’t believe he ever played special teams. Strictly a WR#3/4 and viewed as a liability overall. A strange signing, baring injuries I would not be surprised to see Washington go as the last cut before the season.

7 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Interesting that the Jets signed Kenyon Coleman. I watched quite a bit of them last year, and it seemed to me that Dewayne Robertson was playing well, but not really doing the job of a 3-4 NT. I would have quite liked to see him take Van Oelhoffen's place at end and let Rashad Moore play NT, I think that would be a better fit for them. Coleman is rank average, and while he couldn't be worse than KVO, he's nothing to shout about.

I also think the Jets could do worse than trading Vilma to a 4-3 team, moving Victor Hobson inside and drafting someone like Anthony Spencer or Jarvis Moss to play OLB, but only if they could find someone willing to make it worth their while in trade terms.

8 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

The numbers on Stallworth's contract are wrong - those were the early (wrong) numbers, if memory serves. Stallworth's guaranteed $3.6M in 2006, and that's it. After that it's a whole truckload of money to keep him, and his agent's already called it a one-year contract multiple times, so everyone knows that's what it is.

9 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I thought that the Bills made the correct decisions in the players they let go. MLB and cornerback are not really vital positions in the cover two defense.

Michael Griffin to the Pats makes a lot of sense too.

10 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#3 - Miami has a pick in the second-round they received from New England. I don't recall any other transaction between the two...

#6 - Yes, he has. After Washington refused to play special teams for a while, he started to and it was his ticket back into the lineup.

#7 - That's the thing. They could trade their best player on defense and use their #4 pick in a role unsuited for him...or they could not play the 3-4.

#8 - Of course, correct. My bad on that.

#9 - Most successful Cover 2 teams have a pretty great MLB. Also, the Bills' lack of an alternative at the position makes the situation even more dire.

11 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I would say the Washington signing is similar to the David Terrell signing, or when they brought JJ Stokes in for a look. They might just want to see if the guy has talent and just needs a change of scenery or better coaching. Although Washington had a very good receivers coach in Cincy (which can't be said of Terrell or Stokes in their first career stops). I would agree with the theory that he will be a late cut in camp.

I would also second the idea that the Jets should trade Vilma and possibly Robertson to teams where they would fit the scheme, even if they might not seem to get decent value in any trade. They don't represent good value playing in schemes where their liabilties are exposed anyway so trade them away and use the picks to find guys who do fit. There is nothing dumber than watching coaches try to bash square pegs into round holes.

12 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Bill

I can see your point, but Shelton Quarles was hardly a dominant player in the middle for the Bucs. It is most important to have the Will backer who can dominate in space and run with a receiver. The smaller, mobile, pursuit style middle linbacker is a reasonably fungible position and there should be a few available in this draft at the end of the first day.

13 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#10 Fair point, I was blindly assuming that Mangini was a 3-4 only guy because of his association with Belichick, but of course that's a pretty weak assumption. The only player who that scheme seemed to be getting the best out of last year was Bryan Thomas.

I think that Robertson might be better on the end, but I really felt that he looked more like a #4 draft pick last year than he had in previous years (not saying much, I know), and it would be nice to see him back in a 4-3 system. Vilma doesn't look like he would ever get used to the level of exposure to blocking that being a 3-4 ILB involves, so I think they really should trade him if they're determined to run it.

14 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#12 - True. They also had a Pro Bowl DT, DE, good corners, and a Pro Bowl safety. The Bills have...a bunch of guys. Therein lies the difference.

#13 - I agree with you in the sense that it would be better to trade him than force him to be the square peg in the round hole. I'm just saying that moving to the 3-4 wasn't a good idea in the first place.

15 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

This was an ok column, but there just weren't enough miniature horse jokes in it. I can appreciate trying to mix it up a little, but sometimes, you've just got to pay tribute to the classics.

16 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Let me guess, the secret word for today is 'waned', right? What do I win?

17 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

At least Joey Porter beat up a 300 pound guy instead of his wife ( Mcmichael). But Levi Jones didn't look like he was lying when he said Porter had 5 other guys with him and "jumped" him, and only started attacking after the other guys jumped in.

Random question: How come when a guy like London Fletcher leaves Buffalo people start to say things like " he was getting old anyway" or " he lost a step", but then when the Redskins bring that guy in it's " he was the heart of that SB rams D", "he's a stud etc.". Is that just more and more redskins hype/optiminsum? It seems like when a team GETS a player his value is jacked up, and when the LOSE a player his value is jacked down unless it's an extreme ( Losing a true super star) and then the fans really mourn the loss of the guy.

18 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Concerning the Jets, they have to be figuring that Clemens will be the #2 QB this year, don't they? I mean, after all, he was on the cover on the world's best football annual in 2006. Of course, Tuiasosopo has been playing in QB hell so perhaps he's better than his limited performance suggests.

19 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Paul Poslozny was I believe a finance major who doubled with something else and got excellent grades. I'm not saying that makes him smart, but when you compare what some of the other first round picks majors it says something. Mixing the job of college football, and a real major says something. You would think the Pats would value that intelligence and that workmans attitude.

I think off the top of my head Brady Quinn, Paul Poslozny, Levi Brown, An thony Gonzales, Joe Thomas, and Adam Carriker had "real" majors.

20 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

19:
"You would think the Pats would value that intelligence and that workman's attitude."
We hear statements like this all the time. Is there any actual at least semi-objective evidence that the Patriots, or for that matter any other team, prefer 'smarter' players more than other teams?

21 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

19:

"I think off the top of my head Brady Quinn, Paul Poslozny, Levi Brown, An thony Gonzales, Joe Thomas, and Adam Carriker had “real� majors. "

Not to be controversial, but that's pretty much all the white players expected to go in the first round vs Levi Brown. I also read that the Patriots had one of the largest numbers of white players on their squad for their superbowl trips in '03 and '04. Could that have anything to do with their image of picking 'smart' players?

22 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Mixing the job of college football, and a real major says something.

Yeah. It says "he went to Penn State."

24 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 17

Chris, wait until Samuel starts his holdout and is traded. By then, he'll be a terrible cover CB who was only able to get playing time because so many other DB's on the Pats were injured. Look at AV last year -- overrated, can't kick off, etc.

25 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 21 - "Not to be controversial,"

That's hilarious. I can see how you earned your username.

26 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I'm wondering after Porter's fight with/ambush of Levi Jones if the Dolphins are suffering some buyer's remorse. Or are they thinking 'yeah, that's what we need more of on this team'?

27 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I think you got only half the comparison on McGahee there, Bill.

The other comparisons would be McGahee vs. Jamal Lewis (an improvement) and the Bills line vs. Baltimore's, as unsettled as it is (much better last year than Buffalo's).

Why would we not expect McGahee to have better production than Lewis, then, which is what Baltimore is paying for? The Bills may not have lost much, but Baltimore has certainly gained, once you take both persepctives into account.

28 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 8, 10

Not only that, but only $2 mil of that $3.6mil is really guaranteed. The other $1.6mil is 16 separate $100,000 roster bonuses (presumably to give the Pats partial protection should Stallworth get hit with a drug suspension).

29 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

24- That is an interesting point with AV. While a pat he was "mr. clutch", but when he went to the colts he was " overrated, over valued, and more fungible".

22- Pat, your a Penn State guy aren't you? My favorite Poslosny quote was at the combine when he worked out dispite not being expected to. They asked him why he worked out ( and could have tarnished his high status) and Paul responded, " we're linebackers, and we work".

20- Football smarts.

21- It's not like I "made up" the fact that those named players were business and finance majors ( and Brown graduating early), while most of the other guys were AT BEST sociology majors and other guys majoring in less. Let's just say that some guys were more impressive "student" athletes than others. Some GM's would probably rather prefer a few tenths of a point on a 40 time, while other GM's would rather have the guy that's smarter in the classroom and better in interviews ( and seemingly better character). Example: Some teams would rather have Hines Ward, some teams would rather have Plaxico Burress and that is what makes the NFL go around.

On a side note, I think Dusty Dvoracheck ( spelling), had one of the highest wonderlic scores, but the guy has mental or depression problems. So just because somebody might be "book smart" doesn't mean his is neccesarily a "low risk" or "high character" player, but you would think there is some correlation.

30 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

"There are a lot of guys willing to go over the middle and catch eight yard in-patterns..."

Yes, many are willing. Considerably fewer actually do. There aren't a bunch of guys surpassing Welker's FO metrics.

31 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

PLAX! Represent the 7-5-7! Holla!

Sorry...I'd like to see the average wonderlic scores for the guys coming out of my homeland. It just seems like we breed 'em really dumb here - Vick, Plaxico, Allen Iverson.

32 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#27 - It's true that McGahee will (likely) be a better back than Lewis. That doesn't mean that McGahee will be a good back or value, though, especially at that price. Baltimore's gained at the running back spot slightly, but they would've been smarter to give an equally effective but much cheaper running back (Corey Dillon comes to mind) a smaller deal and hold onto Adalius Thomas.

#30 - Welker was 47th in the league by DVOA last year. There are plenty of receivers ahead of him.

33 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

29:
My question stands: is there any direct evidence that some teams disproportionately favor football smarts OR 'book smarts' over other traits, relative to other teams? I think we grant lots of players 'football smarts' if their teams win a lot, or they perform well, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case: football 'dumb' players can be good as well, based on their athleticism.

34 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I've actually read that Patrick Willis might be something like a Lavarr Arrington type player: great when running around the field and making plays on pure instincts, but he really struggles when he's given a specific limited role to fill. So even if he falls to the Pats I'm not sure he would work out so well in their D.

Re: Smarts
Weren't the Rams known a couple of years ago for drafting guys will really high wonderlic scores?
And also, I think Amobi Okoye graduated as a 19 year old, so he must be pretty smart.

35 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

33- It is difficult to evaluate intelligence. Colleges have that problem with grade point averages, standardized test scores, EC activites, letters of recomendation etc. Some people take watered down classes, some people aren't good test takers etc. It is difficult to give a person a single "intelligence value".

On the other hand, some teams value character higher than others ( yes, I am looking at you cincinatti). The steelers choose not to resign Plax or Joey. Now we really don't know if these guys are intelligent ( although I'd imagine not), but they are at least perceived as lower character guys, compared to Hines, Jerome, etc.

You don't always have to have a 4.0 to play quarterback. People argued whether or not Terry Bradshaw could spell "CAT" or not. He couldn't even qualify to get into LSU because of terrible academic performance. Bradshaw admitted that he wasn't very book smart, but said that he didn't have to be a genius to see whether or not a guy was open. Frank Gore is a guy who didn't even graduate highschool, but is doing just fine in the league thus far.

To answer your question, YES, some teams value speed more than others, some value character/smarts more than others, and some value receivers more than others ( Matt Millen).

36 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

It’s not like I “made up� the fact that those named players were business and finance majors

FWIW, where I come from the Business major is one of the most BS degrees you can get. Not sure about Finance.

37 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

re: 27
Well, the Ravens are only paying McGahee $5mil per year for the first 4 years of the contract, I doubt that Dillon would sign for much less than a 1yr/$5mil deal. Dillon has had much more wear and tear on his body than McGahee, so he's probably more of an injury risk and has a greater collapse rate (sorry, its baseball season).

I don't think there is any doubt that Bills did the right thing in getting rid of McGahee though, two 3rd rd picks for a guy who was leaving for FA in a year was a good move.

38 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

What did Okoye major in? Psychology.

There are probably kids in highschool taking AP and AB classes with a harder workload than a psychology major at Louisville.

People hype up how he " was considering going Ivy league". That is nice and all that he was "considering it", but there are players in the draft that DID do it. It's nice that he speaks well and he is certainly labeled a "high character guy", but if he weren't trying to be a football player it wouldn't be as impressive.

39 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

22- Pat, your a Penn State guy aren’t you? My favorite Poslosny quote was at the combine when he worked out dispite not being expected to. They asked him why he worked out ( and could have tarnished his high status) and Paul responded, � we’re linebackers, and we work�.

I wasn't suggesting Poz isn't smart. It's just that all Penn State athletes typically have a real major, or appear as if they've got real academics. That doesn't mean they're smart (though they could be) - it just means that it's not simple to fluff by at Penn State as an athlete. Pretty much the only athlete I can remember recently leaving Penn State without graduating was LaVar Arrington.

40 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I'd add Victor Abiamiri ( finance major ND), Trent Edwards was a Poly Sci major but stanford is stanford as two other high ranking players with academics. There are other guys with noteworthy academic achievement, but I'm saying that a lot of guys at the top basically majored in "football". Nothing wrong with that, but when other guys were doing football AND academics it makes it more impressive. Not even from an "intellicence" point of view but a "work hard" and time management point of view.

41 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

1. Methinks that understanding the human psyche (sp?) is more difficult than number crunchers realize. It's not like it's a Philospohy degree (Would you like fries with your order?)

2. Frank Gore didn't graduate from HS? How was he able to play NCAA atheletics without a HS diploma?

42 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

39- Do you attribute that to Joe Pa? I wasn't saying PP is smart, I just liked how he said " we're linebackers and we WORK".

I thought when Joe Pa won the title they asked him if it was his best team he's ever coached. He responded by saying something to the effect of "we'll see in 20 years when we find out who these men really are in the real world".

I'd also like to throw out there that the late Eddie Robinson had an 85% graduation rate at Grambling. I wonder how many other coaches can say that? I wonder if some of these big schools even hit a 50% mark.

43 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

There are probably kids in highschool taking AP and AB classes with a harder workload than a psychology major at Louisville.

Any reason to say that, or did you just feel like incredibly insulting all psychology majors and/or the University of Louisville?

That's got to be the most asinine thing I've ever heard you say.

44 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

"That’s all right — the Dolphins can trade down and use the extra picks to restock their defensive line and grab someone like David Harris to eventually replace Zach Thomas in the middle of the Dolphins’ defense"

Is it really that easy to trade down? The main theme of the MMQB this week is about how hard it is to do that because of the high risk:reward ratio of the high draft picks, which makes sense.

45 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Do you attribute that to Joe Pa?

Partially. It's the university's stated goals. Paterno's probably one of the few college coaches alive that can reasonably state that when he disagrees with the direction of the University, the University changes, not him. So it's him, but when he leaves, I doubt it'll change.

I’d also like to throw out there that the late Eddie Robinson had an 85% graduation rate at Grambling.

You have to compare the graduation rate to the rest of the school. Public universities graduate a lower percentage. Private universities graduate a higher percentage.

46 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I would like to rescind the words "number crunchers" from post 41 and just say "some people."

No offense to you number crunchers.

48 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

43- I said that because Okoye graduating at 19 with a "psyche" degree really isn't that impressive. If he wasn't a football player he's probably have a difficult time finding a decent job with that degree. Oh, and I'm sure I've said more asinine things.

Here's one for you guys to chew on...
Quentin Moses, DE out of Georgia. He was an all SEC Recreation and Lesure studies Major. Does that mean he was a mean frisbe gold player or something? Can you even be an academic all american as a lesiure studies and recreation major?

50 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I think this coming draft is a make or break draft for the current Dolphins GM. I see the Dolphins as having lost a lot of "depth" this off-season. However most of the players they lost seem to be league average production players. They picked up one older potential impact player at a position their D co-coordinator has gotten good production from similar players with those skill sets. I think the Dolphins aren't going to be a factor this year unless the hit 2-3 homeruns in this draft. However there is less pressure if some of last years draft class shows up for year 2. I'll also point out the Dolphins are very thin at DE having lost Bowens to the Jets. I think the GMs toast if he has another draft class like last year.

51 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Oh, and I’m sure I’ve said more asinine things.

You're right. You said this: If he wasn’t a football player he’s probably have a difficult time finding a decent job with that degree.

Give me a break. It's either a social sciences degree or a natural sciences degree. Either one has plenty of career opportunities, especially with graduate work.

52 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

49. He just discovered them through iTunes.

53 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

As far as I can tell Okoye has took no graduate classes. There are "opportunities" if you pursue further education, but most psyche majors don't step out of college and make good money.

54 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

There are “opportunities� if you pursue further education, but most psyche majors don’t step out of college and make good money.

You didn't say "make good money". You said "he'd have a difficult time finding a decent job." Low-end social sciences jobs ($25-30K) are relatively common, and there's decent upward mobility with experience.

You're not talking about someone who has a custom design-your-own major that consisted primarily of basketweaving and Appreciation of Modern Cinema.

As far as I can tell Okoye has took no graduate classes

As far as I can guess, you don't know what classes he's taken at all, so speculating about how 'fluff' his degree was is the silliest kind of speculation. And insulting, I might add. Give the kid the benefit of the doubt rather than underhandedly insulting him on a message board.

55 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 36

I'm biased. But I assure you, a Finance degree is no joke.

56 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

53- Your right, I don't know what classes he took, but some people have notes that they took Grad classes as well. Okoye doesn't have anything of that nature noted.

If somebody "wanted" to go Ivy league, it isn't as impressive as somebody who " went" Ivy league.

I'm much more impressed with a finance major, engineering, double major ( like Quinn).

A lot of those people who graduated in psychology couldn't even get jobs after college. I wouldn't call a 25-30K job a "decent" job and I'll bet most people wouldn't either.

I said most of those first round prospects were psychology/sociology or worse. Quentin Moses being " all SEC academic" in lesiure and recreation cracks me up. He must be a real cerebral guy. Oh wait, I can't say that... I don't KNOW him.

58 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I’m much more impressed with a finance major, engineering, double major ( like Quinn).

It's freaking Notre Dame. Who cares what he majored in? If there ever was a football school where you don't have to worry about the intelligence of the players coming out, it's Notre Dame.

Oh wait, I can’t say that… I don’t KNOW him.

It's not just that you don't know him. You don't know him. You don't know the courses he took. You don't know the program. You don't know the university. Instead, you're just being a presumptive all-around jackass based on your "opinion" of what impressive majors are.

At a lot of universities, several "joke" majors sound perfectly reasonable, whereas other "real" majors sound joke-like. Moreover, several "real" majors can be impressive if taken one way, and complete jokes if taken another way. Integrated Arts at Penn State, for instance, is one of them - it's basically a design-your-own major.

The fact that you're trying to judge how intelligent someone is based on their major is just... amazingly insulting. My own major typically makes people go "Oh my God, you must be smart" because it sounds all technical and super-impressive. Which is retarded. There are smart psychology majors. There are dumbass astrophysics majors (this, I know from experience).

59 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I wouldn’t call a 25-30K job a “decent� job and I’ll bet most people wouldn’t either.

My first job out of college paid me $22,500 per year and it was perfectly decent job, fuck you very much.

61 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#50
This will be the first year that Mueller is actually running the draft for the Dolphins. 2 years ago he wasn't around and last year it has been widely reported that Saban called all the shots and pretty well ignored Mueller and the rest of the personnel people's input. I don't think Mueller can be blamed for last year's unproductive draft class (many were injured/out for the year) and probably won't be judged on it either.

62 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

McGahee is actually pretty good. I don't know why Bill gets on his case so much. Behind the Ravens' superior run-blocking, I wouldn't be surprised if he put up Thomas-Jones-in-Chicago-type numbers.

63 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

You don't know me? Hey, do you know any of these NFL players? Maybe we shouldn't comment about any of them because we don't personally know any of them. It would just be some unfair generalizations right? Do you think you know any of these guys because of the generic answers they give to reporters in interviews?

Okoye took the courses to get a Psych major. That is not very impressive. Is he smart... who knows. Q. Moses was an all SEC academic guy as a lesiure major... Does that mean that he is smart because got an A+ in golf class?

22,500! Is that an annual salary? That's below the poverty line bro. People who work at Mcdonalds can make 15K per year. No wonder you used the "irrational" profanity towards me, you must be pretty angry there making peanuts.

and Pat, your anger is "irrational". I never said you can "judge" intelligence based on major. It just adds to that players portfolio if he went to a good school, good major, and good grades.

64 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

US poverty guidelines linked on my name. How many kids do you think I had when I graduated college?

Oh yeah, and just to give everyone else an idea of how long Chris spent composing that post, I had to do one Google search for "poverty guidelines" which led immediately to the HHS poverty guidelines. Chris, you might want to consider, you know, thinking about what you say and researching it a little before you start shooting your mouth off.

65 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I never said you can “judge� intelligence based on major

No, that's true. So replace "judge how intelligent someone is" with "judge how impressive their college academic accomplishments are". And your comment still looks just as ignorant and insulting as it did before.

Q. Moses was an all SEC academic guy as a lesiure major… Does that mean that he is smart because got an A+ in golf class?

Now, you're seriously starting to piss me off, so I have to go and actually look up what a Rec & LS major is. It includes a required internship, a large number of hours of practical experience in local leisure service places: no, the list of recommended places doesn't include a golf course. Rather YMCAs, state parks, senior centers, Special Olympics, and after school programs. Coursework can include studies on therapeutic recreation (i.e. for elderly, etc.), also ecological focus, resource management, etc.

Could he be a slacker? Sure. But he could also have been in that because he planned on working at state parks, or at a YMCA. Personally, I prefer to err on the side of caution rather than seriously insult someone.

and Pat, your anger is “irrational�.

Based on #57, #59, and probably plenty of others, I'd have to say not. You're insulting people based on almost no information, rather, your own opinion of a small fragment of information. I believe the technical term for that is "prejudiced."

66 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Chris

I have on occasion defended you as you appear to possess some knowledge of football. You have denigrated various qualifications without any knowledge of their provenance and slagged people off because they might earn less money than you. Perhaps you should think about how your posts may be looked upon by others and seriously consider some kind of apology.

67 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#62 - You should really read the article where I explain exactly why I'm on McGahee's case. It is, for your convenience, at the top of this page.

As for the ongoing college degree debate, it's entirely irrelevant to, you know, football. Let's try and wean ourselves out of it before posts start getting deleted and tempers get any more inflamed, folks. I was a Communications major; let's all agree that I'm dumber than an NFL player with any degree, and let's go from there.

68 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

RE:35

Gore did not graduatee high shcool? you say?

How did he get to play in college? Don't you have to gradutave high school in order to play in college? He went to Miami, right? That school must be crap.

69 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

sorr about spelling
horriblly drunk rite now

70 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Bill,
I think I pretty much exhausted this argument on the original McGahee-got-traded thread, but my take on him is this: If his production was average (close to 0% DVOA) and the Bill's run-blocking was considerably below average (26th last time I checked), that means paired with average run-blocking McGahee should contribute above average production. The Bills overall rushing offense was -11.7% DVOA (A. Thomas at -24.5% DVOA), so McGahee's -1% DVOA should be something of an accomplishment given the overall suckitude of the Bill's offense.

71 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

67: Basically, my point is exactly the same as #70, so I won't belabor it. Behind a terrible line, he puts up league-average DVOA, which suggests he could improve to 5-10% DVOA, 20-25 DPAR next year. And many of the guys in that range are much more expensive than McGahee is.

Oh, and a clarification: I don't mean to say that Buffalo should have kept McGahee. I'm just saying that I think you underestimate his value to the Ravens.

72 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

That's a fair premise, but I don't really think it's accurate. The Bills offensive line, over McGahee's career, has been ranked 25th (2004), 16th, and 26th (2006) by adjusted line yards. The Ravens line, meanwhile, has ranked 11th, 28th, and 19th over that same timeframe. It's not as if McGahee's moving to the Chiefs.

The more salient point might be the one you made earlier -- that, maybe, McGahee could bump his level of play up to Thomas Jones-with-the-Bears levels over the next couple of years.

Jones just got a four-year, $20 million contract. McGahee got seven years and $40m+. I don't think he'll make all that, but his guaranteed money is a ways above Jones, I would imagine.

There are also plenty of guys at the level of DVOA/DPAR discussed that don't make anywhere near the money McGahee's getting. Just looking at 2006 alone, Ladell Betts, Ahman Green, Leon Washington, Corey Dillon, Brandon Jacobs, and Ron Dayne all put up numbers that would rank among what would be considered McGahee's upside. Several of those backs were available this offseason, and would have cost significantly less than what McGahee did.

I guess we'll have to watch and find out.

73 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Pat- do you have PMS or something? Jeeez. What's the point of talking about any player since we don't know any of them. We wouldn't want to be unfair to them now would we?

Hey, if you meet somebody in prison, why guess that he's a criminal. I mean, he COULD have been innocent. We wouldn't want to rush to any conlusions and be unfair to that person. If somebody majored in underwater basket weaving, why should we make any assumptions, I mean, he could be albert einstein and the best damn basket weaver ever.

Karl- Earning 22K per year wouldn't do it in my area. 22K per year in a lot of the country is just scraping by. You could earn more money than that even without a college degree. Am I judging the person doing that job... NO. Don't jump to conclusions here. I'm just saying that that isn't a "decent" living in my area.

What I was juding was the guy cursing at me. I mean " you don't know me" after all.

74 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Um, DiGiorgio may not even make the team, and will be the backup MLB at absolute best.

Angelo Crowell will move inside to MLB, and if not him Keith Ellison will. 30 seconds of research would have found this for you, but I'm not surprised you weren't willing to put in the effort.

75 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Okay, seriously - when is someone going to recognize that Chris is the very definition of a troll? (Even if he doesn't mean to be - he is.) Can we all agree to just ignore him from here on out? Let's face some facts:

1) Pat is, for the most part, never wrong. Honestly, if he wasn't a PSU/Eagles fan like myself, he'd kind of scare me.

2) Chris has been called various forms of "jackass" on, by my approximate count, 4 million different threads here on FO alone.

So, for Chris to keep antagonizing Pat (and everyone else) with his line of alleged "reasoning", which everyone but him recognizes is at best flawed, and at worst blatantly racist - he can only be doing it for one reason: because he enjoys getting a rise out of you all. Honestly - he's like the Ann Coulter of FO.

You want to stop that? Stop responding to him. Ignore him - it'll drive him NUTS.

76 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

72: I think that Buffalo's ALY has been helped by McGahee, and Baltimore's has been hurt by Lewis. I realize this is a subjective judgement, and you can feel free to disagree, but I think it's important you see where my reasoning is coming from.

Second: Many of those cheap backs with high DPAR come from outlier performance in limited action. Backs who split time often get freakish DVOA/DPAR, and it doesn't mean they'll be able to carry the full load at an above-average DVOA. Moe Williams in 2002, Onterrio Smith in 2003, Derrick Blaylock in 2004, etc. Just because he put up above-average DVOA for a year as part of a platoon doesn't mean Dayne is a capable feature back.

Only a handful of those, like Ahman Green and Corey Dillon, have shown they can do well with 300 carries, and those two are much older than McGahee, and less valuable long-term.

I think McGahee is a pretty safe choice to fix the running game, and while he won't blow us out of the water with a monster season, he'll do better than most of the other options the Ravens had available.

77 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

As a Recreation and Leisure major I feel the urge to stand up for my program (which shouldn't be hard, I've been doing it for four years). Recreation and Leisure is basically a mixture of business/management courses, psychology/sociology type courses and phys ed courses. Yet those majors are usually deemed to contain much more intelligent people (I don't know about in the US, but here in Canada psych is considered one of the more difficult majors). Of course Chris will probably knock my intelligence, but the fact remains that where I go to school it is equally tough to get into the Rec program as it is the business program, and we have one of the better business schools in Canada.

78 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#50

It's a bit harsh to call this a make-or-break draft for Mueller, as it's his first draft as a 'real' GM in Miami. What I find more interesting is how the 'Fins approach this year. The D doesn't have long left in its current form so does the front office try and patch the offense together and make a run, or do they accept that with a 1st year HC now is the time to start from scratch?

The Joey Porter signing and the possible trade for Trent Green suggest the latter, but if that's the case, where's the O-line and WRs to support it?

79 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#74 - That's true. I got to 28 seconds of research and then I needed a breather.

Seriously, Crowell played OLB last year. The Bills need a OLB *and* a MLB. The Bills can make noise about him becoming a MLB, but it actually has to happen first.

#76 - I will say that you said "Many of the backs I pointed out..." were part-time backs and that "Only a handful of those..." were full-time ones when it was, in fact, an entirely equal 3 & 3 grouping. That being said, we can agree there. I think McGahee's a safe choice to make it better, too.

80 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 32

Well yes, technically in a league with over 150 receivers there are 46 that surpassed Welker's FO metrics. That's about 1.5/team, placing Welker in the solid #2 receiver area (at least in terms of productivity).

Let me amend my earlier statement by expressly stating what I thought was clearly implied -

Yes, many are willing (to go over the middle and catch eight yard in-patterns for the minimum salary). Considerably fewer actually do. There aren’t a bunch of guys (available and willing to play for the league minimum) surpassing Welker’s FO metrics.

A guy like Reche Caldwell (last seen doing his Roberto Duran impression during the playoff loss to Indy) may be willing, but it would be risky to assume he'll be successful.

In the end, the question is did the Pats overpay (either in salary or draft resources) for Welker? Obviously you think yes. I'm inclined to disagree given Welker's productivity and the Pats own unpleasant experience in trying to 'go cheap'.

81 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Oh, and by the way, proud U of L grad (1980 Chem Eng.). But I did take a numer of psychology classes too. I agree with #43 completely.

82 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Interesting how the identity of "joke" courses varies from place to place. At my university, the acknowledged skives are geography (aka rowing), economics and management, and classical archaeology and ancient history (aka drawing pictures of pots). Modern languages (which is half of my course) deserves to be perceived in the same way, but isn't, for some reason. Philosophy, on the other hand (which is the other half of my course), is a seriously rigourous course that has more in common with mathematics than anything else, but with the added discipline of having to write essays. Experimental psychology is much the same (though related to a very different branch of maths). Someone who did philosophy, psychology and physiology here would have done a properly hardcore degree. That said, at most other UK universities, psychology is indeed a bit of a joke.

83 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Murr who?

81. A football player who majored in Chemical engineering would be impressive. A guy who "wanted" to go ivy league, but instead majored in psychology isn't very impressive. It's not bad, but it's just not impressive at all.

What's really a joke is to go to college for 4 years, major in psychology, get a job for 22K per year and THINK your making a decent living. There are bar tenders and servers who can make 80+ K per year with no formal education.

The Psych majors in my area either had to go back to grad school, or get a job in a different field. If that's what you want to do, that's what you want to do.

84 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Not to pile on poor Bill, but McGahee's contract is extremely backloaded -- the first four years, he makes less than $20M, and it's really open to question if the Ravens go past year 5 (the last two years contain over $15 mil in and of themselves).

Unless it's with the Patriots, Ozzie does know how to deal.

85 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I'm not a big McGahee fan, so I'm not sure the Ravens made a good deal. But here's ESPN's report on his contract:

McGahee will receive an initial signing bonus of $7.5 million and subsequent option bonuses of $6 million after the 2007 season and $1.5 million following the 2008 season, for a total of $15 million. The base salaries are $595,000 (2007), $605,000 ('08), $620,000 ('09), $3.6 million ('10), $6 million ('11), $6.5 million ('12) and $7.2 million ('13).

Even without the option years at the end of the contract, the deal is worth $26.42 million over five years.

So I think it's misleading to call this a $40M+ contract except for PR purposes.

As I understand it from some rudimentary research, McGahee's cap number for 2007 is about equal to what they saved by cutting Mulitalo (they still have to carry some dead money on his contract but will free some short-term space).

So it looks like the Ravens chose to fill a hole at rb, open one at guard, and give up two 3rd round and one 7th round picks - plus future cap space in the form of McGahee's bonuses- to do it.

86 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

You could earn more money than that even without a college degree.

College degrees aren't about immediate money after graduation. They're about entering positions with upward mobility, job security, a high ceiling, and frequently very good fringe benefits. If you want immediate money as soon as possible, technical positions are pretty much the way to go. "Money per year" is a poor metric of how good a job is.

Interesting how the identity of “joke� courses varies from place to place.

I had a friend in college who majored in astrophysics because he didn't know what he wanted to do, and it was easy. He's also right - lots of the "joke" majors (business, hotel & restaurant management, etc.) require you to take an internship, actually commit time to a class, etc, whereas some of the natural sciences just make you show up and take tests, and it's relatively easy to pass with mediocre grades.

And with that, I'm pretty much done with the whole major debate.

Jones just got a four-year, $20 million contract. McGahee got seven years and $40m+. I don’t think he’ll make all that, but his guaranteed money is a ways above Jones, I would imagine.

McGahee's, realistically, is a 5-year, $26M contract, which makes it pretty comparable to Jones's. Incidentally, the guaranteed money is pretty comparable: $12M for Jones, vs $16M for McGahee.

McGahee's making only a smidgen more - Jones is making $5M/year, with $3M/year guaranteed, whereas McGahee's making $5.2M/year, with $3.2M/year guaranteed, and that ~5% increase over Jones is probably just the premium for the fact that McGahee's two years younger.

88 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

yeah a guy who started college when he was 16 and majored in psychology is teh stupid. I would say he is smart, because he realized football is what he wanted to do for a living and knew that playing in an Ivy League school, while it would impress one person unless he majored in something he deems unworthy would also lead to a lower chance of making it into the NFL (or being drafted as high as Okoye is being placed..) Perhaps if football did not pan out for Okoye, he planned on taking grad classes at an Ivy League school to impress Chris. I mean he is only 19-he has a lot of years left.

22K is a decent living depending on where you live and what your life is like at the moment. If he lived in NYC and had 4 kids and a wife...then no, but if he lived in a suburban town in the South with no one to support but himself-its not bad.

And on subject, Paul Poz reminds me more and more of DeMeco Ryans. From the major and hard work to the falling behind guys who have better 40s. Poz is going to make whoever drafts him happy.

89 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

82 - I have no real comment on the major discussion, I just wish to mention that my University left yours a length and a half down the Thames on Saturday.

As far as I can see, Bill's complaint about McGahee is roughly what MRH said at the end of 47 - the RB they signed is probably better than the RB they let go, but they let a guard go in order to get hum who makes their run blocking somewhat worse, so the overall gain is probably not very great.

90 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

In the end, the question is did the Pats overpay (either in salary or draft resources) for Welker?

Yes and no. Here's why:

If they had offered Welker a poison-pill contract that the Dolphins couldn't match, they'd have been required to give a second-round pick to the Dolphins (Welker was an RFA). The Florida Sun-Sentinel claims the Patriots were prepared to offer such a contract:

(The) Patriots were set to give Welker, then a restricted free agent, an offer sheet worth $38.5 million over seven years on March 3.

An NFL.com report said the Patriots were going to include a "poison pill" that said if Welker played four games in Florida, his contract would become fully guaranteed.

If one accepts that rumor (which, for the record, Scott Pioli denies), then the Patriots gave up a seventh-round pick to make the trade, then negotiated a contract for five years, $18 million, $9 million guaranteed. So they gave up a draft pick, but saved money.

As to whether Welker was worth either deal, that will play out over the next three to five years.

91 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: 84-86

McGahee’s, realistically, is a 5-year, $26M contract

... and that's still a whole lot of money for an average player at a position in which average players are relatively easy to find for cheap. I'm 100% with Bill on this one. I suggest that McGahee continues to benefit more from the publicity surrounding him during his sophomore year at Miami than from anything that he has demonstrated in the four years since he was drafted.

92 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

re:41
"1. Methinks that understanding the human psyche (sp?) is more difficult than number crunchers realize. It’s not like it’s a Philospohy degree (Would you like fries with your order?)"

You've obviously never taken a psychology class. I majored in Electrical engineering, and minored in psychology. I basically took the psychology for the easy A's. My sister was a Psych major. The major is as much, if not more, of a joke, as philosophy. Atleast in philosophy, they expect you to analyze things. Psych is just spitting back whats in the book.

93 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

"Karl- Earning 22K per year wouldn’t do it in my area. 22K per year in a lot of the country is just scraping by. You could earn more money than that even without a college degree. Am I judging the person doing that job… NO. Don’t jump to conclusions here. I’m just saying that that isn’t a “decent� living in my area."

I have to agree. In New England here, if you made $22K, you'd be living in a box under the Highway. I've got friends making in the mid 30s, who can't afford apartments.

94 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Psych is just spitting back whats in the book.

That's what almost all majors in the sciences are if you only care about getting the degree, rather than a career. The fact that it's spitting back math instead of spitting back words is a minor, minor difference.

This is the main reason I don't like calling any major fluff, at all. Without knowing how much work the person actually put into it, and the requirements, it's hard to know how hard it is.

… and that’s still a whole lot of money for an average player at a position in which average players are relatively easy to find for cheap

Definitely true. But $4-5M/year is what the market is for starting running backs who've stayed healthy (and McGahee barely fits that mold). Any team which realizes this and spends appropriately is probably ahead of the curve, but you can't really fault a team for following the market.

95 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

In New England here, if you made $22K, you’d be living in a box under the Highway.

Or with a roommate, which is how most people on short-term limited incomes actually live. $20K/year is roughly what most grad students make across the country, more or less.

96 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I can't believe you guys think 22K is a "decent living". In what country are you talking about?

22K in Washington DC doesn't cut it. What is that, somewhere around 10 bucks an hour? How could you eat, pay rent, student loans etc. with 10 bucks an hour salary? Even people with a 30K job have a hard time scraping by here and a lot of other parts of the country. In washington, you'd be living in a walk in closet with that money.

Thank you Rich. People take psychology for the easy A's and the class with the most chicks in it. Electrical engineering is different.

So what do people say to a psych majors... " Oh wow, a psych major, you must be real smart, i'm impressed" or " So what do you plan on doing after college".

88- Why was he smart for realizing that he wanted to be a football player early. A lot of people realize they want to be football player early and have joke majors. So are the guys that never make it "dumb" for wanting to be football players and not having a more practical major? Every talented young highschool player thinks " they can be the 1%" that makes it. Especially if they go to a big time D1 school.

97 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Bill,

I must admit, when I saw that you were the author of this article, I was a little disappointed. The contributions that you have made to the bostonsportsmedia.com GDRV roundtable leave a lot to be desired. Frankly you most come across as your stereotypical uninformed non-fan of a team.

That said, I can't really argue all that much with what you have written on NE. I take mild offense to the insinuation that NE fans aren't sophisticated enough to realize that a season devoid of sacks might not be a disappointment for Thomas. Aside from that, I agree with most everything. When I read last year that NE and Samuel were only $2.5m apart in bonus money, I was hoping that NE would just get it done.

98 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

96

What is the point of your argument? Are you saying that a 16-yr. old high school graduate is academically lazy? How would it affect his ability or dedication to football either way? Do you have to be a jerk on every topic?

99 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Getting back to football...Is there any plan to compare the East, say, to the divisions they will play this year? The comparative strengths and weaknesses would be interesting, to say the least!

100 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

How could you eat, pay rent, student loans etc. with 10 bucks an hour salary?

Um. Easily? $400 rent (with a roommate - at worst $500), $100-150 food, $100 or so student loans if they're not deferred, or if they exist at all. Some jobs (especially in the social sciences) pay off your student loans for you.

Like I said. Judging a job solely by money/year is really, really shortsighted.

In washington, you’d be living in a walk in closet with that money.

DC rooms for rent under $500/month.

And now, for real, I'm done. This is just completely silly. There's a difference between talking about someone and judging them, and you apparently can't tell that.

101 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I don't have much to add to the sweeping generalisations on peoples degrees (I'm an Economics grad; make of that what you will), but $22k at current exchange rates is just over £11,000. That isn't a lot.

102 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

re 92

Rich,

Funny how this is working out. I majored in Mechanical Engineering and minored in Philosophy. I liked Philosophy for the fact that there was very little rote memorization involved. Just reading and analysis.

Different strokes for different folks.

103 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

89: How did The Match go?

And I've decided to stay out of this majors/purpose of university discussion for the moment. I'm in too much pain and need to take more meds.

104 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Pat- So living in some tiny room 30 miles away from the city, is a decent living? People working at 7-11, or Mcdonalds can make more than that. Then you have taxes, car, gas, insurance, and some people do enjoy going out on friday/saturday nights. Just because your salary is 22K per year doesn't mean you take home 22K per year.

James London, your right, 22K is a joke of a salary and isn't a decent living by any standards. Pat just likes to argue everything and argue points when somebody makes a generalization.

98- The point of my argument is that a lot of kids playing college football want to play professionally, but very few make it. It isn't smart for a talented high school football player to go to a big football school over Ivy league. For every Okoye there are tons of other guys that don't make it. The percentage of college football players that play pro is very low and it's a losing bet in the long term.

105 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Generally intelligent people who keep wandering off-topic is what keeps me hooked on this site. You know, besides the great analysis and whatever.

106 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#89

Oh no, does this mean we are going to need an 'irrational boat race thread?'

107 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#105

Cambridge is clearly better than Oxford, cuz ther's a Cambridge in Massachusetts, which is in New England, which is where Tom Brady lives. Oxford Manning sux...

How's that?

108 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Pat- Do you understand that 100 bucks per month for food would equal 25 bucks a week and about 3.50 cents per day on food? Is that do-able? Sure, but for a former football player and 300 pound guy that works out very unlikely. That cracks me up.

109 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Chris,
Don't you see bike messengers in dc?
How much do you think they make?
There are some places to live.
Hell I live in a super hip area(u st corridor,little etheopia)
And I couldn't care less about someones major.
The draft is unconstitutional and I can't believe it even exists.

110 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I graduated in 1995 with an English degree and spent four years working as a carpenter, making about US$20,000 a year, before my second start-up succeeded modestly and I could start working indoors full-time. 20K isn't a lot, especially in Boston, but of course I had no family to support and I lived in a Southie apartment with four other guys. It seems to me that unless you're the sort of person who's obsessed with material goods, then my situation in the years after college was just fine--I would call it better than fine, actually, since it was a happy, productive time and I wouldn't trade it.

111 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Wow, late to the party. Funny how threads that aren't supposed to be about the Patriots become huge Pats discussions, and ones that are (at least in part) end up diverging into what majors are hard.

My thoughts:
Bill, I love your humor. Thanks...

On salary: Grad students in Boston make under $20K a year, living in the second or third most expensive city to live in in the country. It's not easy, but certainly possible. I know, I did it for five years. And the fact that I didn't immediately jump to 50k+ a year doesn't mean that my undergraduate education was worthless. Incidentally, to put the assertion that 22k a year is "impossible to live on" in perspective--minimum wage is currently $5.15 and hour. That means a person working 50 hours a week at minimum wage, with no vacation (and usually no medical or dental insurance) makes about $13,400 per year, before taxes.

On majors: You simply can't say one major is easy without looking at the school. Psychology, for example, is a total joke at some schools, and quite well respected at others. I know a psych major who was at a shcool which put a very quantitative focus on the subject and she had to take rigorous, nasty statistical analysis courses and also some courses in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Linguistics was the joke major at my fiancee's school, and a nasty, difficult, world renowned major at mine. While I certainly will agree that some majors are less applicable or marketable than others, you can't say if they were easy or not without knowing the school.

Money... doesn't the mere fact that you majored in something called "Recreation and Leisure" and expected people to take you seriously say something about your intelligence... ;-) Just kidding. Don't take offense.

OK, and now I apologize for interrupting this nice discussion of society and majors with football talk, but:

1) I think some of the value the Pats saw in Whelker was taking him away from a division rival, who already has other holes to fill. Furthermore, given the amount of tape the Pats coaches have probably watched on him, I feel more confident that they know what they're doing with him then they do with some of their other additions.

2). I want to go on record saying that I don't think the Jets good season last year was solely the result of an easy schedule. I think they were underrated going into last season, and they're underrated now. I don't expect them to topple the Pats, but they should compete. However, they need to figure out what they're doing with their front seven. Why can't coaches be creative enough to create a scheme that highlights their players, instead of trying to force players into their scheme?

112 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

109- Just because you SEE somebody in DC doesn't mean they live there, and it doesn't mean they are making a decent living either.

If somebody gets good grades as a finance/double major while playing football it says something about that person. Do you think that person is more or less likely to throw 81K on the strip club floor, and be involved in multiple shootings and 10 run ins with the law or less likley? Oh wait, we don't know those people so we can't make a prediction. It would be irrational.

113 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Chris, and your degress is in _________ ?

114 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Did Pacman have a psychology degree? Should you not draft any black person or just any black person with dreads? Or just any black man with dreads from WV? Maybe you just shouldn't draft Pacman.

115 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Crap, nothing kills being a smart*ss like forgetting to proof #111 reworked:

Chris, and your degree is in __________?

117 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

OK. I'm killing the off-football discussion now. Any posts after this one that don't directly discuss football are getting deleted.

As for the football comments -- you guys, I think, are ignoring two important facets of the McGahee/Jones thing. First, McGahee is yet to show that he's capable of producing at a similar level to Jones consistently. Part of that is his youth, but he hasn't yet. I'm also still unconvinced that his move to Baltimore is going to increase his FO metrics. I haven't done any research on how moving to a better offensive line improves DVOA/DPAR, so while it would intrinsically follow, I can't say it's fact.

In addition, the other point is that if the offensive line was that good, finding a pretty decent running back should be a lot easier to find than giving up a late second-rounder (in draft value) and giving even the $20+ million he's likely to get up. Running backs are easier to find than that. His longer contract won't be much of an issue now, but the Ravens will eat a bit of money at the end of it, which isn't good. When the alternative is signing a mediocre back and keeping Mulitalo and Thomas, I think that's a much better move. That's just me, maybe.

As for Welker, what I was implying was not that Torry Holt was better, but that similar players like Mike Furrey, Eric Parker, Kevin Curtis, and Bobby Wade all performed at an equal or superior level. Only Curtis went as high as the third round in the draft. My point, as I mentioned, wasn't that Welker isn't a useful player -- it's just that players of his skillset and caliber can be found with careful scouting later in the draft.

Oswlek - I must admit that when I saw it was you commenting, I was also a little disappointed. Sometimes, life can be disappointing. As for your worries about me disparaging Patriots fans, I can assure you that I didn't mean you specifically and also that the majority of Patriots fans I live, work, and watch games with cannot appreciate the subtleties of linebacker play.

118 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Off-topic, but on football...

Any lead posts coming soon on Pacman getting suspended by the league for the entire season, and Chris Henry getting suspended for eight games?

Came here first after reading it on espn. (they're good for news, but don't compare to the Outsiders for commentary/analysis)...

119 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Gray - One went up almost exactly as you posted it.

120 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

For my part, I can't believe no one here wants to talk about Andre Wadsworth!

- Alaska Jack

121 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Oh. My. God.

Anyway, it is helpful to remember that where teams are with respect to certain teams is not always helpful. The difference in ALY between BUF and BAL was .3. .3 is not going to take a slightly below-average back and turn him into anything other than... a slightly less-below average back. The drop-off between McGahee and some random scrub is not so large that it was worth two 3d round picks, regardless of his worth relative to Lewis.

97: That was the most bizarre non-sequitur ad hominem attack I've ever seen. So you agree with him but think he's not very good? Did he steal your lunch money or something? Date your sister?

As for the sacks thing, it doesn't matter what fans you're talking about, the vast majority of them are definitely not sophisticated enough to have any sort of insightful discussion about football. That's just the way it is. That is why we are all here, and not just talking about everything with our drinking buddies.

117: You did not just compliment Bobby Wade. You did not just go there.

75: While Pat is, indeed, fraught with awesome, he has been known to make mistakes.

From time to time.

122 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

"Oswlek - I must admit that when I saw it was you commenting, I was also a little disappointed. Sometimes, life can be disappointing. As for your worries about me disparaging Patriots fans, I can assure you that I didn’t mean you specifically and also that the majority of Patriots fans I live, work, and watch games with cannot appreciate the subtleties of linebacker play. "

Touche.

I just see that kind of comment as unnecessary. All one has to do is listen to WEEI for 30 minutes or so to determine that the NE sports fan isn't the most brilliant specimen. That said, this site isn't WEEI, and I think that most readers of this site *are* intelligent enough to know the difference.

124 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Next FO will be banning celebration posts and/or spikes after posting.

125 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

My point, as I mentioned, wasn’t that Welker isn’t a useful player — it’s just that players of his skillset and caliber can be found with careful scouting later in the draft.

The operative phrase is "can be found". Sure, you can find players. Heck, you can find a SuperBowl MVP QB in the sixth round. But, what are the odds.

Figure that an absolutely home run with a late 2nd round pick would be a receiver who catches 67 balls over the middle and contributes a huge number of reliable fumble-free touches in the return game.

With Welker, they get proven NFL production in PRECISELY the roles they need from their slot receiver. They get a guy who already understands how to get open quickly underneath as a blitz-busting slot receiver -- a skill that is anything but automatic from a college player used to offenses that are sandlot ball compared to the NFL.

126 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

124 - they aren't banned, it's just that you have to make your next post from 15 yards away from the keyboard. Which is something of a challenge.

127 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

re: 117
The Ravens really didn't have much use for Mulitalo, his replacement last year, Jason Brown, is younger, more athletic, cheaper, and better (especially since it seems that Mulitalo's arm will never return to full strength).

I admit I'm being optimistic regarding McGahee, but honestly I'm just longing for the day when the Ravens have a legit passing and rushing attack (when Jamal was great they couldn't pass, and once Jamal was washed up their passing game rounded into form w/ McNair).

I do think that with the salary cap at $110mil, $5mil isn't that expensive for a starter, especially since it was the only starting position the Ravens had to fill that couldn't have been replaced in house (AD and Pashos should be ably replaced by Johnson and Terry). I do think RB fungability is a bit overstated-look at the better teams in the playoffs last year: NE, Indy, NO, Chi, SD-all of these teams spent a first round pick on a RB recently. Hell, even Denver opened up their checkbooks for T. Henry, whose production was pretty similar to McGahee.

128 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

The operative phrase is “can be found�. Sure, you can find players. Heck, you can find a SuperBowl MVP QB in the sixth round. But, what are the odds.

Figure that an absolutely home run with a late 2nd round pick would be a receiver who catches 67 balls over the middle and contributes a huge number of reliable fumble-free touches in the return game.

With Welker, they get proven NFL production in PRECISELY the roles they need from their slot receiver. They get a guy who already understands how to get open quickly underneath as a blitz-busting slot receiver — a skill that is anything but automatic from a college player used to offenses that are sandlot ball compared to the NFL.

This is definitely one of my points of contention with Bill. A virtual certainty at slot WR - a position that NE puts a lot of stock into - is well worth a 2nd round pick. Now, if it were a case where a huge contract came along with it, that would be one thing, but Welker's contract is perfectly viable for a WR of his caliber.

I for one, was calling for NE to trade a 2nd for Welker as early as the middle of last year. That trade will look like a steal in 2-3 years.

129 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

#122 - I never said that FO readers who are Patriots fans wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I said Patriots fans. There's an obvious difference (which you picked up on in your first post). Remember that this column also runs on FOX, where I can discuss the AFC East with like-minded stereotypical uninformed non-fans.

#125 - The reason I pointed out the players better than Welker who were similar and cheaply-available was to point out that the odds of finding a Welker-caliber player are much higher in the late rounds than it is to find, say, Deion Branch, who the Patriots grabbed in the second round in 2001. That is another reason why Welker is a bad move -- he does not represent a home run with a second-round pick, he represents a solid player whose skill level can be replicated by cheaper receivers while preventing you from hitting a real home run with your second round pick.

The irony is that the Patriots are a team who, under Belichick and Pioli, have almost always let the "proven" player move on in order to replace him with a younger and/or cheaper player.

#127 - I didn't get to see Brown play much last year, so I'll defer you to on that by all means. The thing about fungibility when it comes to running backs isn't that it's overstated but more misunderstood -- guys like LaDainian Tomlinson aren't fungible. I thought it was ironic, though, that your list contained teams who have replaced expensive veteran running backs (Indy, New England, and Chicago) with cheaper ones.

The last thing I should point out about McGahee is that while people have pointed out that he should play better with a better offensive line, he hasn't in the past. When Buffalo's offensive line improved from 25th to 16th (which was better than the Baltimore offensive line he's going to), McGahee's DVOA went from 0.5% to -1.3%. When the offensive line slipped back to 26th in '06, his performance stayed stagnant at -1.6%. Maybe he will improve next year -- but saying that he'll do it with any sort of certainty is wishcasting and not backed up by the data.

130 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

"All one has to do is listen to WEEI for 30 minutes or so to determine that the NE sports fan isn’t the most brilliant specimen."

I can't listen to WEEI for more than about 20 minutes without wanting to stab someone in the throat.

131 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

BTW, I'm a complete NE homer (when I'm not insisting that Tom Brady is a noodle armed sissy, which he is), and I thought that Welker was the best aquisition the patriots made this offseason.

Much better than Thomas. Troy Brown has been a fundamental cog in the patriots offense for the last 10 years+, and they have had a very hard time getting anyone to equal his production. Welker has a similar skillset.

You MAY be able to find a player like Welker late in the draft, but over the last couple of years, they patriots havent been able to.

132 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Bill #129,

Just a few points of contention regarding Welker:

The irony is that the Patriots are a team who, under Belichick and Pioli, have almost always let the “proven� player move on in order to replace him with a younger and/or cheaper player.

NE really doesn't do this that much more than any other team. Just in the past couple years, they have locked up Bruschi, Vrabel, Brady, Seymour, Koppen, Light and Neal. They attempted to resign Branch but he forced his way out. McGinnest, Bledsoe, Andruzzi, et al were guys that would have been let go by any team in the league. Probably only Givens, Milloy and maybe Woody were guys that other teams would have kept.

Mike Furrey, Eric Parker, Kevin Curtis, and Bobby Wade

First off....Wade? C'mon now.

Furrey and Parker aren't nearly as good on special teams as Welker. I'm not sure about Curtis' prowess on special teams, but he is a good WR.

Aside from that, I am trying to figure out when the 2nd round of the draft became this round full of layup blue chippers. Welker's next 4 years will likely be better than 80-90% of the guys selected from 33-64 in a few weeks. So they won't hit a homerun (in your opinion), they are hitting a solid double.

Said another way, if NE selected a WR and got equal to Welker production most would consider that one of the best picks in the entire draft. For every 3-4 guys you can name that were drafted later, I can name 10 guys that were drafted earlier that aren't as good. It is all relative.

I understand that Welker's contract is larger than your typical 2nd rounder, but it isn't so much so that NE needs to get 2-3X what a good second rounder would offer. They are paying a miuld premium for some surety of production.

Lastly, IMHO, NE places more value on the slot WR due to the spread offense being a primary set. They got bit last year by having to use Brown outside and having not competent replacement. If Welker does nothing more than what he did last year for Miami, he shores that position up for a number of years. There is value in that.

If Welker amounts to 80% of Troy Brown, the trade will be a clear victory for NE. Welker is already better than Brown was going into his 4th season.

133 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

NE really doesn’t do this that much more than any other team. Just in the past couple years, they have locked up Bruschi, Vrabel, Brady, Seymour, Koppen, Light and Neal. They attempted to resign Branch but he forced his way out. McGinnest, Bledsoe, Andruzzi, et al were guys that would have been let go by any team in the league. Probably only Givens, Milloy and maybe Woody were guys that other teams would have kept.

Yes. I never said the Patriots let every veteran they had go -- I said almost always. Guys like Brady and Seymour are core players and almost no team would let them go.

I also find it very hard to believe you could be a Patriots fan and miss the backlash that they got for letting McGinest and Vinatieri go, let alone Milloy, Law, and Tebucky Jones. Teams do not often let guys like McGinest go -- they hold onto them for a year too long and get left with his shell and a contract.

Furrey and Parker aren’t nearly as good on special teams as Welker. I’m not sure about Curtis’ prowess on special teams, but he is a good WR.

OK - so your argument's that a passable WR who's an excellent special teams gunner is worth a second-rounder? That's not real. Look at the NFL. Those kind of guys don't get drafted in the second round, not by the Patriots, not by anyone. If they were that valuable, they would go in the second round and Larry Izzo would be making $7 million a year as a backup linebacker and an excellent gunner.

Aside from that, I am trying to figure out when the 2nd round of the draft became this round full of layup blue chippers. Welker’s next 4 years will likely be better than 80-90% of the guys selected from 33-64 in a few weeks. So they won’t hit a homerun (in your opinion), they are hitting a solid double.

80-90% is highly unlikely, but then again, I don't have your crystal ball. But sure, I would say that Welker's likely to be as good as say, half the WR's taken.

Said another way, if NE selected a WR and got equal to Welker production most would consider that one of the best picks in the entire draft. For every 3-4 guys you can name that were drafted later, I can name 10 guys that were drafted earlier that aren’t as good. It is all relative.

If a guy was the 46th best receiver in football? That wouldn't be one of the best picks in the entire draft. It would be a useful player.

You're miserably misunderstanding the point of Welker's fungibility. It's not that there are any wide receivers that are drafted higher than Welker who are busts, it's that every wide receiver similar to Welker was a late-round pick or undrafted free agent. The exceptions are guys like Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell -- who, coincidentally enough, were both let go by their original teams and picked up for nothing by the Patriots last year because those guys are freely-available talent. Guys like David Terrell aren't, but their potential upside make them such high picks because if he pans out (which they do about, oh, 50% of the time), he presents talent that is not acquirable with a later pick or undrafted free agent -- Marques Colston being the noticeable exception.

If Welker amounts to 80% of Troy Brown, the trade will be a clear victory for NE. Welker is already better than Brown was going into his 4th season.

Yes, he is -- Brown has 21 catches in his fourth season. He also nearly tripled his number of catches from his seventh to eighth seasons, and then peaked at 30 with 101, over three times what he'd had two years earlier.

Why do we have reason to believe that Welker will follow that career path? Because one guy with a similar style had an atypical pattern? Absurd. Assuming that Welker's better than Brown, he'll be on pace to catch 150 passes in 2010. At that point, I'll be happy to admit he was worth a second-round pick.

134 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Drafting a receiver is VERY risky. There have been a few guys that have been very productive early, Randy Moss, Boldin, Fitz., but it usually takes a receiver a few years to learn the coverages and which routes to run ( especially in an offense like New England, as opposed to Atlanta) OR have outstanding physical attributes like Moss, or be so polished like Fitzgerald.

With that being said, the chances of drafting a productive receiver in round 2 are very unlikley. Not productive long term, but in say the next year or two years. It is unlikely to draft a WR in round two that will catch 65 balls next year be a return man. The fact that Welker has already played ( and learned coverages) with success, and can add something on special teams means that he is much more likley to produce next year over a 2nd round draft pick.

Don't forget who he had throwing to him last year. Daunte Mcnabbfumblepepper, Joey scare-ington, and Miss Cleo. You would think he would perform better with a competant Tom Brady throwing him the pigskin.

Do you remember him in the Fins/Steelers game at the start of the year? Welker was the only one ballin. Chris Chambers was sleeping the first three quarters. At least Welker provided some excitement.

135 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Oh wait, nevermind. Jermarcus Russell... I mean Daunte Mcnabb fumblepepper has a very strong arm. On the other hand Brady Quinn... I mean Tom Brady doesn't have that kind of arm strength and can't make all the throws. Maybe Welker should stay in Miami with the quarterback with the stronger arm.

136 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Oh wait, nevermind. Jermarcus Russell... I mean Daunte Mcnabb fumblepepper has a very strong arm. On the other hand Brady Quinn... I mean Tom Brady doesn't have that kind of arm strength and can't make all the throws. Maybe Welker should stay in Miami with the quarterback with the stronger arm.

137 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Why is Brady Quinn so consistently compared to Tom Brady? I understand that they're both white, all-american faced, QBs from the northeast who share a coach and a name, but apart from that I'm not so certain that they're the same player.

I haven't looked at it closely, but based on Brady's less than Quinnish college career, I can't believe that he's the closest projection for Quinn's pro career.

Does anyone know who Quinn's more similar to?

138 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

137 - well, we're promised a David Lewin article sometime soon as the draft approaches, so that'll be the definitive word on him, but here's a comparison that I quite like:

QB-Games-Cmp-Att-Cmp%-Yds-TDs-INTs
Brady Quinn 45 929 1602 58.0% 11762 95 39
Eli Manning 43 829 1363 60.8% 10119 81 35

Quinn has better counting stats; Eli has better rate ones, but there's not much in it. Also, they both generate massive amounts of press about whether they'll ever be a good pro quarterback. I wouldn't be surprised if Quinn turns out somewhat like Eli.

139 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Matt Hasselback

West coast offense, quick release, can move around the pocket, firey, good command of an offense, Intelligent, can play emotional, leadership...

Hasselback is probably a better comparison anyway because you can't "assume" a college senior is going to be a hall of famer. If you look at that trait profile for Hasselback though, it matches a lot of what Tom Brady has to offer too.

They don't look ( or have hair alike) and Hasselback tries to be funny in interviews, and Quinn either gives the most boring generic answers or the rah rah answers.

I was just trying to bring up how people like Russell as the top pick over Quinn, because he "has a strong arm"... but a strong armed Fumblepepper ( who russell is compared to) is viewed as trash, where Brady ( who quinn is compared to) is viewed as god.

140 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Hasselback? Really? I'm thinking a better version of Drew Bledsoe (so, Eli Manning...).

141 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Re: Welker ...... Much of the discussion focuses on his true value within the context of last year's stats. But those stats were compiled with the "cooperation" of Culpepper and Harrington, both of whom Miami is desperately trying to replace. Perhaps Welker's productivity should be reevaluated in light of the acknowledged ineptitude of the people throwing the ball.

142 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Having written that, I'm now wondering if my post will get deleted for a Brady-Manning comparison outside the irrational thread...

143 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Bill,

I also find it very hard to believe you could be a Patriots fan and miss the backlash that they got for letting McGinest and Vinatieri go, let alone Milloy, Law, and Tebucky Jones. Teams do not often let guys like McGinest go — they hold onto them for a year too long and get left with his shell and a contract.

I missed Law and Vinatieri. I think that the majority of teams would have let Big Willie go.

I did comment on Milloy and most wanted Jones out of town. I know that I did.

OK - so your argument’s that a passable WR who’s an excellent special teams gunner is worth a second-rounder? That’s not real. Look at the NFL. Those kind of guys don’t get drafted in the second round, not by the Patriots, not by anyone. If they were that valuable, they would go in the second round and Larry Izzo would be making $7 million a year as a backup linebacker and an excellent gunner.

Nice strawman there.

Welker is an exceptional punt return man. There is absolutely value in that to NE. He is also much better than "passable" as a receiver. NE even went as far as to double him in the away game after no one could stay on him in NE.

I was comparing him to the names that you mentioned, so I guess my mistake was playing in the field that you laid. BTW, how much did Furrey make again? How about Curtis? Why is anyone paying these players if they can be so easily replaced with 5th round draft picks?

If a guy was the 46th best receiver in football? That wouldn’t be one of the best picks in the entire draft. It would be a useful player.

The flaw there is refering to Welker as the 46th best WR in football. I am pretty sure that lousy QB'ing and poor pass blocking might have impacted that soemwhat.

You’re miserably misunderstanding the point of Welker’s fungibility. It’s not that there are any wide receivers that are drafted higher than Welker who are busts, it’s that every wide receiver similar to Welker was a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

If the assumption that what NE would get is Welker's *prior* three years, than yes. This would be a good point. However, NE is lucky enought to get Welker's *next* 5 years. I have a funny feeling that he might improve slightly, particularly in an offense that has more diversity and better QBing.

BTW, again, two of the guys that you compared Welker too were given larger than UDFA contracts this offseason. If they can be easily replaced with late round picks, why?

Why do we have reason to believe that Welker will follow that career path? Because one guy with a similar style had an atypical pattern? Absurd. Assuming that Welker’s better than Brown, he’ll be on pace to catch 150 passes in 2010. At that point, I’ll be happy to admit he was worth a second-round pick.

Another strawman.

When did I say that he would follow Brown's career path? Considering that Welker is stepping into an offense that includes more options that Brown had from 00-02, that would be foolish.

However, the two players are most certainly similar in both stature, desire and ability. Welker is better going into year 4 than Brown was. Just because a reasonable person knows that Welker won't ever approach 150 catches doesn't make the two statements above any less true.

It is clear that we aren't going to agree on this. I am fine with that. I just wanted to make my opinion clear before my boy Wes takes off in NE, because I am very confident that he will.

144 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

Did you guys see Welker in the Pittsburgh game? You would have that that HE was the receiver. I forget what other game it was, but I seem to remember him stepping up in another nationally televised game or two... maybe thanksgiving? If I can remember correctly he was a good return man in the Miami/Pats game in Miami.

I don't see Quinn as Bledsoe at all. Chad Henne is more of a Bledsoe style QB. Big, slower release, not very good pocket presence, but can throw the ball accurate and downfield when given time.

Hasselback/Quinn would both have the west coast offense, quick release, perfection mentality/confidence, command of the offense, firey, emotional, competitor, and mobility.

You know, I'd even say Jeff Garcia fits a lot of that mold as well. You might laugh and say Garcia is trash now, but the guy is what, 37 years old now? Maybe if his NFL career didn't start at 31 he could have had an even better career or maybe some team could invest in him now instead of hoping for a couple seasons out of him. Garcia did have some pretty impressive seasons though in San Fran.

What if Quinn had some 3500+ yard passing seasons, with around 30 TDs, some added rushing TDs and a 60% completion percentage. It wouldn't be so bad.

145 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

BB, Very interesting article; considering your premise is all WRONG ! Although the 4 we lost would gladly have taken more of Wilson's money; they All wanted out of here. That's why Clements wasn't franchised. And, Fletcher and Spikes saw that they didn't fit the 'D' they were in (one gets blown out of holes and the other has 2 injuries to over-come; Acchilles and hamstring). And, the ungrateful McHehee ... All 4 were becoming 'cancers' here. We're lucky to have gotten anybody or picks for them. These guys are "skaters" now. Mark my words, they'll all be conveniently on their respective teams' injured list before or by their bye week!

146 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I'm sorry dude. If you're going to imply arguments and then as soon as I point out the fallacies in them, immediately jump back and claim strawman, then there's really no point.

It's true that New England doubled Welker after no one could cover him -- it's also true that the Patriots struggled against everyone of those type of receivers over the course of the season -- including Mike Furrey. That's why, not because of Welker. See how many teams double Welker this season.

BTW, again, two of the guys that you compared Welker too were given larger than UDFA contracts this offseason. If they can be easily replaced with late round picks, why?

Because other teams don't efficiently value players and are afraid of the unknown. We've already gone over this.

However, the two players are most certainly similar in both stature, desire and ability.

I can only wonder how you are quantifying their similar desire. I'm picking nits at this point. Time to move on.

147 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I have to agree with the NE fans who say Welker is a good acquisition, even at that price (as much as it pains me). Purely subjectively, I would say that having watched Welker, he was much better than the rest of the Dolphins offense and being held back by playing with them. My initial thought when watching the opening game of the season (Pitt-Mia) was: FREE WES WELKER! I figure, with Tom Brady throwing to him, he will be quite good (barring injury).

148 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

I’m sorry dude. If you’re going to imply arguments and then as soon as I point out the fallacies in them, immediately jump back and claim strawman, then there’s really no point.

I claimed strawman because that is what it was. In the first example you insulted the notion that special teams might be a factor in a team's evaluation of a player. You even went as far as to say that a guy who *clearly* has no value beyond special teams should be paid $7mm. That is a quintasential example of a strawman: exaggerate or distort the original response and then attack the exaggeration.

In the second one I compared Welker to Brown and you again shifted if to how incredulous you were that I would imply that Wes would catch 150 passes. Never did I mention number of catches or career path. Those are the areas that you discussed after altering the parameters.

It is alright to disagree with me. Stand by the #46 as that is a proprietery figure.

But Welker will prove worth every penny and then some. I am sure of it.

149 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

You're now doing exactly what you claimed I've done. My argument was that a competent player at a position who's also an excellent special teams player doesn't go in the second round. I'll grant you that Izzo's an exaggeration -- take someone like Ike Reese, then.

As for the second point, I can assure you that I don't think you implied that Welker had 150 catches. The point is that Brown's career path was so atypical that Welker would find it impossible to live up to.

If you weren't referring to Welker's career path, I fail to see what value Welker being better than Brown after his third season has. Brown had 14 catches his third season; being better than him is no great shakes.

I think the funny thing is that I was a huge Wes Welker fan coming into the season -- I still think he's going to be a valuable player to the Patriots in 2007, so in that sense, I agree with you. I've never said that Welker was a bad or unworthwhile player to have a roster spot, and I think you're misconstruing that.

My argument has been -- and continues to be -- that Welker is not worth a second-round pick and that players similar to him are available and often selected with picks much later in the draft. The flipside to that is that "using" their second-round pick on Welker means that they won't get a chance to pick another player who will be able to make a more dramatic difference than Welker will (to use the example again, Deion Branch; of course, they could also draft Bethel Johnson).

150 Re: Four Downs: AFC East

My argument was that a competent player at a position who’s also an excellent special teams player doesn’t go in the second round. I’ll grant you that Izzo’s an exaggeration — take someone like Ike Reese, then."

Sorry, Bill, but Hester, a returner, like Welker, just went in the secound round last year, and he can't contribute at all on any side of the ball...

I prefer to be the first one to say that. But it's clear for me the Pats reached on Welker. It's like the Ravens with McGahee, they prefer to fix a hole with a proven commodity for several years instead of betting on a young player, and so, can foccus on other area of concern (re-vamping of the O-Line for the crows, of the secondary for the Pats).