But I don’t think they should have been in that position. I go back to the second-round restricted free agent tender that Hoyer, an undrafted player, received. The Patriots could have only asked for right of first refusal ($1.26 million), and then gauged any trade interest in Hoyer. If they had any inkling that they could go with Mallett, then the Patriots could make a decision at that time. It seems that the team wasted value because it successfully mined and developed a player who could compete for a starting spot somewhere next year.
Never mind the fact that the Patriots really hurt Hoyer by waiting until now to release him — when all the rosters are set and it’s too late for him to learn a new system to help early in the season. It’s not like you can just slip a quarterback into the lineup.
I’m increasingly starting to believe, from the free agent missteps to questionable decisions such as Hoyer’s tender, that the Patriots’ real front office is solely in Belichick’s head, and when he decides to let his lieutenants in on his thinking, it’s very late, they have to scramble, things get rushed, and there isn’t enough time for someone to say, “Hey Bill, maybe we want to think about this a different way.” If there is anybody who can do that after Scott Pioli left, that is.
Amazing that the Patriots still haven’t developed a receiver on their own. Julian Edelman should get the ball more this season, but he’s it.
Fans get attached to certain players, but the Patriots can do better than Branch at 33 years old. At least they need to try. Plus, between Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and a running back, the Patriots need two more receivers on the field: Lloyd and Welker. There will be times when you see one or zero receivers as they go with three or four tight ends, not to mention a fullback eventually. As long as Lloyd stays healthy, the Patriots have the missing boundary piece they need in the tight end-heavy offense. Branch was not that.
There are always drawbacks in assembling rosters certain ways, and by going younger, the Patriots are basically operating with less of a net. The biggest areas of concern are backups at quarterback, running back, offensive tackle, end, and linebacker.
I’m not really worried about backup running back, even though the durability of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Danny Woodhead is troubling. It’s not like this is ground and pound. Brandon Bolden has a solid future, but it feels as if this could be a little bit too soon if the season comes down to him in the playoffs.
Still have my doubts whether Marcus Cannon is a tackle — and I know some in the organization have that same question — so having him as the lone backup to Sebastian Vollmer, who really looks stiff after back problems, is scary. It would be fine if you had a proven commodity on the left side, such as a Matt Light. Talk about working without a net if Nate Solder struggles. I do, however, think the Patriots will be fine on the line.
I don’t have any further clarity on the Brian Waters situation. What I’ve been able to glean is that Waters is in the spot that many aging veterans get to: it gets harder and harder to leave home (Waters lives in Texas). Would he be with the team if it were closer to his home? Would more money get him on a plane for one final go? Maybe on both, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s over with Waters yet. In the interim, the Patriots will more than survive with Ryan Wendell at center and Dan Connolly at right guard.