Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ANYONE WANNA BUY SOME PLEXIGLAS?

What was the deal with the rumors that the Patriots were going hard after wide receiver Derrick Mason? It seems so unlike Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick to being throwing mad dollars at a thirty-one year old undersized receiver. Of course, their thinking could be that they don’t see themselves in position to grab a game-breaker at wide receiver in the draft, and they may have undisclosed plans for wide receiver David Givens (would they trade him for a third round pick? How about for a second round pick?). Given how much money they offered to Mason, one has to pontificate about the possibility of the Patriots jumping into the Plaxico Burress sweepstakes.

The plusses for Burress include the so-far quiet market for his services which lowers his asking price; his size (long & lean is the usual description); his toughness (he has long been considered an excellent blocker); his production, when healthy, has been consistent; he’s younger than Mason; and the fact that signing him weakens a conference rival who the Patriots have faced in the AFC Championship game twice in the past four years.

Even some of the negatives are positives: His desire to break the bank in free-agency may have scared enough teams away to make him a viable possibility; his injuries last season may also be a contributing factor to driving down his price.

So is Plexiglas in the Patriots future? Well, you’ll never get that information out of Belichick and Pioli. Expect the unexpected with those two: like when they signed Roosevelt Colvin, it surprised even the “industry insiders” that the Patriots were negotiating with him.

Signing Burress may be the surprise free agency signing for the Patriots. Imagine Burress, Deion Branch, David Givens, and Bethel Johnson lined up in a four wide formation—how does a defense defend the size of Burress and Givens while also defending the speed and quickness of Branch and Johnson? Maybe Belichick is thinking of that right now and smiling.

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Assuming the Patriots get some kind of wide receiver via free agency, be it Burress, bringing back Troy Brown, or signing someone else out there such (who the heck is left?), I don’t see them going out of their way to pick another receiver considering they still have fourth round pick P.K. Sam who was injured and invisible last season.

The search for a safety has the Patriots looking at former Green Bay Packer and Miami Dolphins safety Antuan Edwards. Edwards was a late number one pick in 1999 by the Pack, and would be a great complement to the defensive backfield, adding a young veteran to be a nickel safety (allowing Eugene Wilson to slide to nickelback and cover a receiver like a cornerback) and a solid insurance policy should injuries occur (which tend to only happen to the Patriots’ safeties in the second half of the Super Bowl).

I still think they need to add some depth at inside linebacker, but if Belichick was talking to the media he’d no doubt tell them that these players don’t grow on trees—especially inside linebacker’s (ILB) with 3-4 experience. One free agent out there who has played ILB very well, when healthy, and who, like Burress, has not experienced the free agent frenzy is fellow Steeler Kendrell Bell. Bell, when healthy, is an athletic, quarterback hungry, pass rusher who would look great playing next to Ted Johnson or Tedy Bruschi (should he return). Of course, like Burress, with Bell the question is the money and his health. But, for the right price, Bell would be an intriguing pickup.

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The Celtics lost Sunday night. Was anyone on WEEI demanding a trade of Antoine? Or have they still not realized that there’s a pro basketball team in Boston? Just wondering.

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So the final analysis is the trade turned out to be Antoine Walker for a protected number one pick, Googs, and Yogi Stewart. Not a bad trade by Mr. Ainge. Now let’s see a charge to the playoffs.

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