By now you know the drill:
This thread (named in dubious honor [or honour for Comedic.Sans] of a book titled Steal This Book) is a thread that was designed to be stolen. Random thoughts, check. Inane observations, perfectly fine. Multiple segues, the more the merrier. Goofy pictures, haiku, whatever. If the thread gets unwieldy, I'll create a new sandbox for us to play in. Feel free to jump in, the water's fine.
The NFL Draft has come and gone. The anticipation of seeing who we'll draft, the consternation of Hoodie moving around the board and not picking our guys, and the revelation that Hoodie maybe isn't as dumb as we thought when we were swearing at him through the TV. New guys are headed to the roster, with just the little formality of actually having to sign them (formality, because the Pats track record there is fairly solid). In addition, undrafted rookie free agents abound, and Hoodie is choosing to kick the tires on some of those. That's all well and good and of course that needs to happen.
As we look out at the rookies, some of whom may represent the future of the franchise, we need to be mindful of the guys that got us here and do right by them. That doesn't mean we need to keep them all on the team, but it does mean that they shouldn't get jerked around. If you respect them, tell them up front what your plans are and let them hit the road if they need to. I'm reminded here that Mike Vrabel said he was never told why New England shipped him out. While face to face is the best, how long does a phone call take? How about a letter? "Dear Mike, we respect all that you've done for us, but we need to unload Cassel, and Pioli will only take him if you're part of the deal. Wish we could keep you, but at least we're sending you to family. Good luck in you future endeavors, and my phone line is always open. Signed, Hoodie." Man up already, and treat the guy with some respect.
In the wings is stud left guard Logan Mankins, the guy who is solid in pass protection and launching running back projectiles at opposing defenses. While most of the line has seen better days, All-Pro Mankins turned 28 on March 10. If not for the uncapped season, he would have been an unrestricted free agent . More to the point, he would have been the best offensive lineman in free agency. Why? Because teams don't let players of his caliber walk unless the owner is senile (see Al Davis).
Now I'm giving the organization a little time here. I don't think they are intentionally making Logan twist in the wind, though that's in essence what they're doing. I think they signed Wilfork, Bodden and a few other essential free agents first as they should. Next they do the draft and based upon draft position (one of the advantages in trading down) tally up the cost of the rookies (knowing, of course, that all of them may not make the team). Now that the books are fairly set, they know what they can spend on Mr. Mankins. Oh, and there's that guy named Brady that they want to lock up before next year.
I'm impatient by nature, yet nature forces me to be patient by necessity. Still, now is the time to see a smiling, happy Logan Mankins working out with the team. To Hoodie, Kraft, and company, you've done a wonderful thing this off-season by signing Wilfork, Bodden, and Faulk. The message sent is that if you're a good Patriot soldier, you'll be taken care of. Well Sirs, there is still a man down on the field. Take care of him as well. Don't leave him behind.
Gostkowski and Guyton signed their tenders, which means we've got them for the year. Gostkowski's deal will get done this year, and Guyton I'm sure will get resigned as well. He's just got to make it to the 53 man roster and I feel he's pretty much a lock for that as depth at ILB, OLB, and special teams.
Of course Brady's deal will get done. Everyone knows that, and I'm sure Brady is content to wait. There are very few teams out there where Brady wouldn't significantly upgrade the quarterback position. Once the checkbook balances from paying the other guys, Brady will get his paycheck. Nothing to it but to do it.
In addition to our twelve draft picks this year, we've still got one from 2008 (named Shawn Crable), and two from 2009 (Brandon Tate and Tyrone McKenzie) that are still very much rookies. Shawn so far hasn't made it past the pre-season. While someday we may look at him with his three Patriots Super Bowl Rings and laugh about that, today I don't find much amusement in it at all. I'm pretty much thinking that the three strikes rule applies here. Mr. Crable, either hit the field (preferably with quarterbacks), or hit the road. Potential wasted isn't any more valuable than no potential at all.
On to Tyrone McKenzie. There's alot to like about Tyrone as a person. As a football player, I don't know much about him because he hasn't even made it through OTA's yet. Based on the type of guy he is, though, I'm sure he's been preparing for his opportunity. Unfortunately for him, ILB just got a little more crowded. If you want a job, show us what you can do, Mr. McKenzie. I'm anxious to see.
Brandon Tate is a different case altogether. We bought him as damaged goods. For all of that, though, he's still played in the regular season. Something the other guys can't say. For a team that was running out of weapons last year, Tate has a golden opportunity to make the team. Kraft commented that he was pretty happy with Brandon, and he thought people would be impressed. So here I sit, Mr. Tate, show me something because I'm waiting to be wowed. Nothing would make me happier than to have no idea where Brady is going to dump the ball. Because if I can tell, so can the defense and that's never a good thing. I hereby change your name to Brandon Target. Go forth into the world and make big plays.
And now let the mayhem begin.