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20 Mar 2009

Four Downs: AFC East

by Sean McCormick

Buffalo Bills

Biggest hole: Pass rush

While the Bills sent a few ripples through the league with their surprise signing of Terrell Owens, that move didn't do anything to address the team's biggest problem -- the pass rush. Buffalo mustered only 24 sacks, and they dropped opposing quarterbacks on only 4.7% of the offensive pass attempts they faced. Aaron Schobel missed 11 games with a foot injury, and while he was not having a productive year, he did at least force offensive coordinators to account for him. While Schobel only tallied a single sack in five games, the rest of the team chipped in with another nine during that span. Once Schobel was sidelined and the defense was forced to rely on Chris Kelsay and Ryan Denney to provide the pressure, things went south in a hurry; the defense only managed 14 sacks in their final 11 games.

Even if Schobel returns healthy and plays to form, the Bills would be well served to bring in reinforcements. There's not much left out there on the free agent market, so it seems likely the team will use its first-round selection to add a pass rusher. If Texas' Brian Orakpo falls out of the top ten, he would be the obvious choice. If Orakpo is gone, which seems increasingly likely, the team will have a difficult decision to make, as the second-tier rushers generally project better as 3-4 outside linebackers. Florida State's Everette Brown has arguably the best pass rushing ability of any player in the draft, but he measured under 6-foot-2 at the combine and might not be able to hold up against NFL left tackles. Aaron Maybin has terrific instincts, and Buffalo has had good success with Big Ten defenders. On the other hand, Maybin played at 240 pounds, and he may simply be too small to be an every-down defender in a 4-3 scheme.

Free Agency Recap

Buffalo was off to their typical quiet offseason -- their major move was releasing guard Derrick Dockery two seasons after giving him silly money -- when they suddenly went off the script and signed Terrell Owens to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. It's a strange marriage, and one that is likely to be an unhappy one, as Owens no longer has the playmaking ability to justify his destabilizing presence in the locker room. He's a secondary receiver who needs careful offensive scheming to get him open at this point, and his inconsistent hands (Owens posted a 49 percent catch rate last season) will make Trent Edwards think twice before throwing to Owens in traffic. Plus, we can't see T.O. being happy spending his Saturday nights at the Anchor Bar washing down wings with Molson Ice.

Drayton Florence arrives from Jacksonville and should represent an upgrade at nickelback. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the backup quarterback and, presumably, will provide better conversation for Stanford alum Trent Edwards than J.P. Losman did.

Miami Dolphins

Biggest hole: Wide receiver

Year one of the Wildcat was a smashing success, but the crushing playoff loss to Baltimore made it clear that the Miami offense will need to rely on playmakers rather than trickery if they hope to contend against top defenses. While there is no question that Chad Pennington's lack of arm strength limits Miami's ability to attack teams with deep and intermediate patterns, the biggest problem at the moment is the lack of playmaking ability at the receiver position. Looking at FO's advanced stats for wide receivers, Miami did not have a receiver crack the top 40 in DYAR, and neither of their starting wideouts posted a positive DVOA. Ted Ginn, Jr., showed terrific improvement in his sophomore season, increasing his catch rate from 48 percent to 60 percent, but he still has a long way to go before he becomes a true number one receiver and justifies his draft status. Greg Camarillo was a pleasant surprise, but he figures to be most effective operating from the slot. The ideal addition would be a big receiver like Rutgers' Kenny Britt, someone who can operate in the space underneath cleared out by the speedy Ginn. North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks has drawn comparisons to Reggie Wayne, and he could be a good fit as well.

Free Agency Recap

At the start of free agency, it seemed likely that Miami would lose at least one of the trio of Channing Crowder, Vernon Carey, and Yeremiah Bell, but general manager Jim Ireland was able to successfully re-sign all three players to acceptable contracts without ever resorting to the franchise tag. For good measure, the team went out and added Raiders castoffs Gibril Wilson and Jake Grove. Wilson was let go by Al Davis just one season after signing a major deal, and while he had a poor season, he is a good second-level defender, and he's not a liability in coverage. Grove won't start, but he can provide quality depth at both guard and center.

New England Patriots

Biggest hole: Outside linebacker

Last year there was a lot of speculation that the Patriots would jump-start their pass rush by moving ahead of the Jets to select Vernon Gholston. Instead, Bill Belichick opted to slide down three spots and select linebacker Jerod Mayo, who ratcheted 128 tackles on his way to being named Defensive Rookie of the Year. The move may look brilliant with hindsight, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that New England cannot afford to ignore their need for an edge rusher any longer. Last year the Patriots ranked 27th in defensive DVOA against the pass, the franchise's second-worst performance since 1996. Their DVOA on third-and-long situations was a brutal 44.6%, which resulted in far too many conversions and extended drives. A large part of the problem was the secondary, which was left without a true playmaker after Asante Samuel took his act to Philadelphia, and the team's active pursuit of any free agent cornerback with a pulse suggests that Belichick and company were well aware of the unit's shortcomings. The signings of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden may not represent a long-term fix, but they should at least stop the bleeding.

Fixing the back four was a must, but the team must now turn its attention to the pass rush. Football Outsiders measures the pass rush with adjusted sack rate: sacks and intentional groundings per pass play adjusted for situation and opponent. The Patriots were second in the NFL with 8.4 percent ASR in 2007, but they dropped to 6.1 percent ASR (18th) last year. So far this offseason, they've traded away Mike Vrabel to Kansas City without adding anyone to replace him. If the season started today, Belichick would have to find a way to get production out of the combination of backup Pierre Woods, last year's third-rounder pick Shawn Crable, and prodigal son Tully Banta-Cain (returning after a two-year furlough in San Francisco), with the injury-prone Adalius Thomas occupying the other opposite side.

New England could use to the draft to upgrade, in which case they would probably be looking at someone like Cincinnati's Connor Barwin or Northern Illinois' Larry English at the end of the first round or early in the second. Alternately, if recent rumors are to be believed, they could go for the home run by putting a trade package together for Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers may be the only 280-pound defensive end in the league to possess the athleticism needed to play outside linebacker, and he has been public about his desire to go to a team that plays a 3-4. Stay tuned.

Free Agency Recap

The Patriots have become the new 49ers, a destination for aging veterans who are willing to play at a discount to play for a championship contender, and this offseason has been no exception. In 1999, adding Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway would be huge acquisitions; in 2009, they are depth players who will likely see the field for a few snaps a game. The team also made a curious trade for Philadelphia's Greg Lewis, who would seem to have no role beyond running Wes Welker's routes in practice.

The higher impact acquisitions were on defense, where New England inked veteran cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden in an attempt to fix the 27th ranked pass defense. Bodden is an FO favorite, but he hasn't played well in two seasons, and he was out of his depths in Detroit's zone coverage schemes. He should be a better fit for New England's scheme, so he's in good position to bounce back. Springs is still playing at a high level, but 34-year-old corners have a nasty tendency to fall off in a hurry.

New York Jets

Biggest hole: Quarterback

The Jets will field new starters at wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, cornerback, and safety, but the biggest question by far is who will replace Brett Favre at quarterback. New coach Rex Ryan insists that the opening day starter is already on the roster, and the team has made no attempt to bring in a veteran to compete with the young trio of Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff, and Erik Ainge. Clemens was highly regarded by Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge when he came out of Oregon, but he struggled mightily in half a season's worth of work on his way to posting a –18.9% DVOA in 2007, and his failure to step up and win the starting job was a major factor in the team's decision to trade for Brett Favre.

Clemens barely hung onto the number two spot, as he had to fend off a strong challenge from Brett Ratliff, who built on a strong training camp by posting a 68.1% completion percentage and a 122.6 quarterback rating in four preseason appearances. Our own David Lewin discovered that you can predict the performance of top quarterback prospects by looking at two statistics: career starts and completion percentage. The more starts a top prospect has under his belt, the more likely that scouts have correctly assessed the player's ability. One of the corollaries of the Lewin Forecast is that while there is a strong correlation between career starts and success for quarterback prospects at the top of the draft, teams may be more likely to hit on a gem in the late rounds or in the UDFA market by concentrating on players who have the necessary size and arm strength but who did not get much playing time for scouts to evaluate. (Matt Cassel would be Exhibit A.) At 6-4 and 235 pounds, but with only 13 starts at Utah after transferring from Butte College, Ratliff very much fits the profile. He has a lot of support within the organization and is probably the odds-on favorite to win the job. Ainge is the polar opposite of Ratliff, as scouts saw enough of him during his 35 starts at Tennessee to be concerned about his arm. He is unlikely to emerge as the winner of the quarterback derby.

The Jets have scheduled a private workout with USC's Mark Sanchez, and they figure to do the same with Kansas State's Josh Freeman, but it's unclear if either player would represent much of an upgrade over what is already on the roster. More likely, the Jets will go with what they have on the roster and will look at adding a playmaker like Florida's Percy Harvin or North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks.

Free Agency Recap

The Jets came into free agency as one of the most cap-strapped teams in the league, but through a combination of Brett Favre's retirement, selective contract restructures, and the release of longtime starters like Laveranues Coles and Chris Baker, the team created enough space to make a splash -- a $48 million splash, to be precise. There is no way to get around the fact that the team overpaid to pry linebacker Bart Scott away from Baltimore, but they did add a physical inside presence who is thoroughly familiar with Rex Ryan's defense. Given the alternative of overpaying Ray Lewis, it was probably the right move. Also coming over from Baltimore was safety Jim Leonhard, who will compete with Abram Elam for the safety spot opposite Kerry Rhodes, as well as upgrade the punt return unit. The Jets also swung a trade with Philadelphia for disgruntled cornerback Lito Sheppard. Sheppard was a disaster last year, but he has experience playing ballhawk in a pressure defense.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 20 Mar 2009

46 comments, Last at 30 Mar 2009, 5:33pm by Rich Conley


by Westito Burrito (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 12:23pm

No one in Buffalo drinks Molson Ice.

by Sophandros :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 12:26pm

Yes, we know that Harvard is an Ivy League school, but was it necessary to take such a dig at Tulane, which itself is a solid academic institution?

Also, given the comments that Terrance Newman recently made, maybe we should reconsider how we view Owens. Personally, I think that he's been scapegoated a few times in his career. Granted, he brings a lot of attention to himself, but at the end of the day, too much blame is placed on him for various situations.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by armchair journe... :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 5:18pm

I think it was more a dig at Losman.
armchair journeyman quarterback

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 5:40pm

I thought it was more of a dig a Fitzpatrick, who isn't going to provide much in terms of playing football well, all he's going to be worth is conversation.

by Harris :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 7:46pm

Are you drunk? Owens has made an ass of himself in three cities and for all the talk about his production, he hasn't been on the field for a playoff win in a decade.

Hail Hydra!

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 8:42pm

OK, so Sean whiffed on Buffalo's favorite beer and implied Tulane is a lesser school than it really is. So what? He was making a couple of jokes. I didn't find either one hilarious, but so what? No one lost a limb. Relax. Smile.

And if Owens gets "too much blame . . . for various situations", isn't it remarkable how those situations follow him from team to team? Bad luck. Just baaaad luck.

by Cdubya (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 1:46pm

First off, it is true that nobody drinks Molson Ice in Buffalo. Labbatt Blue and Budweiser are your most prevalent brands. Anyway, I hope TO doesn't destroy the chemistry of a locker room full of guys that haven't been to the playoffs since the Clinton administration.....if things go wrong they could easily miss the playoffs by more games. Sticking with Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish as your #2 and #3 options would have been a much better move.

by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 9:02pm


by Jimmy :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 1:58pm

general manager Jim Ireland was able to successfully re-sign all three players

So this brings the number of people who think Jeff Ireland is the de facto GM for the Miami Dolphins to two. Sean McCormick and Jeff Ireland's mother, and one of them gets his name wrong.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 1:53pm

No mention of Devon Bess for Miami at WR? The guy looked like he could be a pretty darn good slot WR to me.

by seamus (not verified) :: Tue, 03/24/2009 - 5:34pm

Davone Bess = Chocolate Welker.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 2:21pm

"they've traded away Mike Vrabel to Kansas City without adding anyone to replace him"

Honestly, with the way Vrable looked this year, I'm not sure thats a bad thing.

by Led (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 3:07pm

"Florida's Percy Harvin or North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks."

I see the argument for Harvin, but Nicks seems like a clone of Cotchery -- not super fast or big, but polished and physical with good hands. Starting one Cotchery is good; starting two and you have a problem stretching the field. So if the Jets are going to select a WR in round one then I think they need to go for speed. If Harvin's gone and you think Heyward-Bey is a reach at 17, then you go DL or CB or whatever highly ranked player on your board has slipped to 17.

by Led (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 3:50pm

To reply to myself...The Jets also lack a single blocking tight end at the moment. They have Dustin Keller and a long snapper. I expect they'll draft someone like Anthony Hill in the later rounds, but their inability to sign a free agent is troubling and compounds the loss of Chris Baker. I wouldn't call this their biggest hole, but it's a serious concern.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 3:41pm

I have to disagree with your assessment of Buffalo. Terrell Owens is clearly their biggest hole. Oh wait, that's not what you meant by "hole". Never mind.

by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 3:58pm

I'm sorry, there's just one section in this that I find so unbelieveable that I just can't be quiet about it:

The Jets have scheduled a private workout with USC's Mark Sanchez, and they figure to do the same with Kansas State's Josh Freeman

In God's name, why? Why is Josh Freeman getting talked about as a first-round QB? What has he ever done, in three years of starting, to prove that he's an NFL quality QB? Every single year, he's put up nice numbers against inferior teams, then failed miserably against anyone with a modicum of talent. And we aren't talking about defensive juggernauts in that second group either; it's the freaking Big 12 North. If there's another six schools anywhere in the country as happy to let you pass on them, I have yet to see it. Josh Freeman couldn't do anything against them, and it's not like there's that much of a talent differential between ISU, KU, KSU, Mizzou, CU, and Nebraska these days. Well, I take that back; take it from this Iowan, ISU is worse than everyone else there. Despite the general talent equivalency though, Freeman never did anything to stand out there.

So why is he being talked about as a first rounder? Please, somebody, explain this to me. I feel like I'm in the same bizarro world where JaMarcus Russell was considered a legit first rounder. Is this a big joke that the good teams play on the bad teams, convincing them that crap college players will suddenly turn into great pro starters? This just seems so insane.

by Gamblor (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 4:15pm

Unless you were typing REALLY loud, I'd say you probably were quiet about it.

by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 4:28pm

I typed it all out by pounding my forehead against the keyboard, so it was rather loud, actually.

by armchair journe... :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 5:21pm

maybe because they wouldn't need to burn a 1st round pick on him.
armchair journeyman quarterback

by AlanSP (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 5:49pm

Totally agree. Freeman's never done anything against a halfway decent pass defense. I think the attention he's getting is due to a combination of the "ooh, look at his arm!" syndrome, and the fact that this is a very weak QB class. Stafford has red flags in terms of his accuracy and consistency, and Sanchez had one year as a starter, so it's hard to evaluate him. Beyond that, the prospects are even less impressive. When guys like Rhett Bomar (who wasn't even accurate in I-AA) are getting serious attention, it doesn't say much about the QB class.

by Boggle :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 7:30am

Which makes it all the more surprising to me that there wasn't more interest in Matt Cassel

by CaffeineMan :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 2:27pm

I think the lack of interest in Cassel was a combination of:

1) Teams think his performance is really a product of his surrounding cast.
2) He's only had one year of experience.
3) They saw limitations on film they didn't like (e.g. under center vs. shotgun)
4) $14.5 million. It's not always easy to get a long term deal done to reduce this.
5) Rebuilding teams had other priorities for their money (e.g. Jets defense).

I'm not arguing the accuracy of those assessments of Cassel's abilities, because that's already been done to death. I'm just speculating on why there was so little apparent interest.

I think another possibility is that any latent interest in Cassel never really had time to simmer, because the Chiefs trade happened so fast. The Chiefs had fewer (if any) concerns with the items above, they put their best offer on the table quickly and Belichick took it, wanting the cap space right away. I think some teams might have been more interested, but wanted to take a "wait and see" approach.

by pouringizards (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 3:59pm

I'm fairly optimistic about the Jets' defence, I have to say. I don't know much about their line, but Scott, Leonhard, and Sheppard seem like good pieces of the puzzle.

I hate to even raise the idea, but do you think New York would be a good home for Jay Cutler? After all, the Jets have shown that they're prepared to deals with disgruntled Bus Cook clients in the past, and that really kinda worked for them...

by mobiletree (not verified) :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 2:03am

Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard were just two decent players for the Ravens, made to look great by being around guys like Ray-Ray, Ed, Terrell, and Haloti. I don't understand why the Jets paid Scott so much money and why the Jets fans are so excited about it. The Ravens always develop guys like Scott and Leonhard that nobody else wants, and then they get big contracts elsewhere and become nobodies all over again. Remember Jamie Sharper, Duane Starks, or Ed Hartwell? I didn't think so. Pouringizards, until you actually sign away one of our stars, don't get your hopes up.

by Led (not verified) :: Mon, 03/23/2009 - 3:01am

You may be right, but Rex Ryan obviously thinks Scott is more than just a replaceable part.

by seamus (not verified) :: Tue, 03/24/2009 - 5:43pm

I think the last six weeks have shown that New York would be a terrible place for Jay Cutler.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 4:06pm

Jake Grove is getting paid around 6 million a year. Unfortunately, he was signed to start.

by Sergio :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 2:44pm

And that's just ridiculous. What did Samson Satele did, besides playing with a bum shoulder all year, that could make the Dolphins think of replacing him? Unless they plan to move one of them to G (and whoever they would move, he better be great at it), it doesn't make any sense.

Just ridiculous.

-- Go Phins!

by Jimmy :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 2:31pm

I would put it down to Parcells' MO of lacking patience with guys who get hurt, or who are unable to maintain their standard of play when trying to play through injury. Year after year his teams seem to avoid injury bugaboos, everyone talks about possible advanced training techniques maybe it is just avoiding players who haven't shown they can deal with injuries.

As FO say, 'Health is a skill.'

by Tim (not verified) :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:42pm

Umm, allow every member of the Ravens' D-line to walk past him before his hands even left the ball?

by PDX Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 4:15pm

As a Pats fan, I was amazed that they were able to go 11-5 with the injuries and defensive holes they have. I guess the soft schedule helped (although it turned out to be stronger than originally thought, given the Jets and Dolphins success). I'm looking forward to what they do this spring to continue to improve the team through FA and the draft, although I image Randy M, Wes W et al. are looking forward to the biggest improvement - the return of Mr. Tom Bundchen. Could be a big year for them in 2009 with the right personnel moves.

by JCRODRIGUEZ (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 6:21pm

"Sean McCormick looks at what each team in one of the NFL's toughest divisions"...c'mon, still the Pats and 3 mediocre teams...they are only slightly better than the AFW west and they are no match for the North and South...

by AlanSP (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 6:47pm

One of the corollaries of the Lewin Forecast is that while there is a strong correlation between career starts and success for quarterback prospects at the top of the draft, teams may be more likely to hit on a gem in the late rounds or in the UDFA market by concentrating on players who have the necessary size and arm strength but who did not get much playing time for scouts to evaluate. (Matt Cassel would be Exhibit A.)

Is there really enough evidence to support this? Yes, there's Cassel, and Brad Johnson, Kurt Warner, and Mark Brunell would fall into the same category of guys who had limited playing time in college. On the other hand, Marc Bulger, Rich Gannon, Tony Romo, Jeff Garcia, Kyle Orton, and David Garrard all started for at least 3 years, and Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck both started for 2 years. So the anecdotal evidence seems pretty mixed. Is there anything more systematic looking at this?

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Fri, 03/20/2009 - 9:27pm

The concepts of "Lewin Forecast" and "supportive evidence" are mutually exclusive. There is no statistically relevant data to support Lewin; none. In fact the whole theorem is that statistics don't matter (scouts see what stats cannot), except when they do (completion percentage matters, even if scouts like the guy). The implication is that scouts are highly adept at scouting QBs with high completion percentages but, when looking at those with low completion percentages, suffer a sudden, though temporary, highly debilitating brain malfunction. That anybody has given this concept even mild consideration of credibility is astonishing, though less so in the era of Bernie Madoff, et. al. Why FO continues to flog this intellectually dishonest nonsense is beyond me.

by AlanSP (not verified) :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 2:14am

If I recall correctly, the the system was based on the finding that college completion % and number of starts were significantly correlated with DPAR in the NFL. I'm not sure why that doesn't count as statistically relevant data.

It's important to distinguish between the the specific claim that college starts can help predict NFL success for early round QBs (which has evidence to support it) and the explanation in terms of scouting of why this might be the case (which isn't directly supported). More generally, the issue is one of small sample size rather than scouting per se. While I do think that the scouting explanation tends to be oversold by FO, it's perfectly plausible that scouts could better at judging some things (say, arm strength) than other things (say, accuracy).

by Sean McCormick :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 8:28am

I think it's fair to say that the trick in scouting is to accurately gauge what a player is capable of doing without neglecting to consider why the player has or hasn't done so to this point. Last year the question was why Matt Ryan didn't have elite completion percentage numbers and why he threw too many picks, and the answer offered was that he was playing with such a poor surrounding cast that it knocked down his stats. Early returns say that the problem at BC clearly wasn't Ryan.

In any event, I think the idea behind applying the Lewin Forecast is to manage risk--if you have a top pick, you probably want to make sure that you use it on a quarterback who has consistently demonstrated excellence over a long period of time, rather than, say, run out and draft a junior who has a career completion percentage under 57% but who can make all the throws. (I'm just saying, Detroit.)

And I'm with you, Mike. I wouldn't go anywhere near Josh Freeman with a first round pick.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 9:45pm

I don't see what the problem is with saying that scouts, when evaluating top talent, systematically underrate the importance of completion % (which may or may not be the same thing as accuracy). That's really the only claim the LCF makes about NFL talent evaluation. What is intellectually dishonest about that?

Also, AlanSP makes the point that the LCF is based on actual numbers. If you don't think they are statistically relevant, you better explain why. It seems that a high correlation to DYAR should count as statistically relevant evidence.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Pete (not verified) :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 10:31pm

While I think Julius Peppers would have his best chance to win with New England, I just do not see the trade coming. Yes, New England could trade for him. However, historically they pay less than market value (paying C- money for B caliber players and coaching them to play at a B+ level).

I doubt that Julius Peppers (likely to receive almost $40 million in the next two years as a franchise player) will accept $40 million for four years. With so many of their biggest contracts coming up in the next couple years they cannot overpay.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 03/24/2009 - 10:10am

"However, historically they pay less than market value (paying C- money for B caliber players and coaching them to play at a B+ level)."

Tell that to Richard Seymour, and his $10M/yr deal, or Brady, making 15+, or AT and his $8M a year....tell it to Kevin Faulk, who is making $4M a year.

by mrh :: Sat, 03/21/2009 - 11:12pm

The team also made a curious trade for Philadelphia's Greg Lewis, who would seem to have no role beyond running Wes Welker's routes in practice.

I thought it was pretty clear that the Pats got Lewis to fill Gaffney's role. Lewis doesn't seem to have Welker's skill set at all.

Welker 2008 - 10.4 ypc, 6.8 yac, implying that he was 3.7 yds downfield before the catch (ybc), 75% catch rate
Welker 2006 - 10.3 ypc, 6.0 yac, 4.3 ybc, 67% catch rate - he looked pretty much the same in MIA, so it's not like the Pats changed the type of wr he was
Gaffney 2008 - 12.3 ypc, 3.1 yac, 9.2 ybc, 59% catch rate - much more downfield on his routes than Welker, lower catch rate and yac
Lewis 2008 - 13.0 ypc, 2.6 yac, 10.4 ybc, 54% catch rate - he was used/performed like Gaffney (although on only half as many targets), I don't see him turning into a Welker practice dummy.

I think it's much more puzzling why the Pats acquired Galloway AND Lewis. Galloway, if healthy and able to perform like 2007, is more of a deep threat (and just plain better) than Lewis but there don't seem to be enough balls (and cap) to go around to justify adding two wrs for limited roles, especially when one is an old guy like Galloway.

by CaffeineMan :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 2:50pm

This kind of move is standard for the Pats. They're bringing in relatively cheap competition for an open mid-to-lower level position. Lewis cost only a 5th and makes only $650k next year. Galloway's contract is one year and I bet it's not very large and not much is guaranteed. So they may not intend to keep both.

As to Lewis being like Welker, that's not the impression I get. From what I read (Lombardi at NFP, Eagles fans on this site) it sounds like Lewis is a deep threat with a borderline catch rate. That sounds like competition for Galloway, not Welker. Both have speed. Galloway can catch better. Lewis plays special teams. Kelly Washington made the Pats roster as a WR, but played mostly special teams, so there's precedent for that role on the team and it's possible they'd keep both depending on how the rest of the roster shapes up.

by MB (not verified) :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 9:25am

Adalius Thomas is injury prone? Nonsense. He'd played in all 16 games for four straight seasons before he broke his arm last season. C'mon . . .

by i like the jets (not verified) :: Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:58pm

1. I think it is unlikely the Fins draft a WR in the 1st round. Parcells hasn't done that since Terry Glenn.
2. I think if there's a signature defensive player who falls to the Jets, they could take him in the 1st round anyway. I think there is as good a justification for drafting Tyson Jackson or even another 3-4 pass rshing linebacker as there is for drafting any available 1st rd WR's except Crabtree.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 03/30/2009 - 5:33pm

"Parcells hasn't done that since Terry Glenn."

Parcells didn't draft Terry Glenn. Terry Glenn being drafted is a huge part of why Parcells is no longer with the Patriots.

by jumanji (not verified) :: Mon, 03/23/2009 - 2:27pm

can someone shed some light as to why lito shaperd was a "disaster" last year? Inquiring minds want to know, not to mention hopeless Jets fans ...

by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Mon, 03/23/2009 - 7:53pm

Oh, Buffalo. Another year of soul-sapping sucking awaits. Whee.