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Based on conversations I have with friends and family who are NFL fans, they are tired of the rhetoric and name calling and just can't believe the two sides can't figure out a way to split up a $9 billion (and growing) pie.
But unfortunately, lockout talk and the draft are all we have to look forward to right now. The next significant date in the lockout comes in a Minnesota courtroom on April 6, when the players' injunction trying to lift the lockout is heard by judge Susan Nelson.
The draft kicks off on April 28, though there's even controversy surrounding that, something one of the readers asks a bit about this week.
Keep your questions coming - if you keep filling the mailbag during the lockout, hopefully the boss won't ask me to cover a Red Sox game! (No offense to the Sox or Sox fans; it's just not my favorite sport to cover.)
I love BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk and Danny Woodhead, but the Pats had a lot of success in the past with big, powerful backs like Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon. Is there any talk of getting a big back to go along with the guys they have?
Brian Kiley, Studio City, Calif.
In terms of draft picks, Brian, folks have been tying Alabama’s Mark Ingram to the Patriots for months. Measuring 5-foot-9, 215 pounds at the Combine, Ingram is a strong runner between the tackles, which is also where Green-Ellis excels. Draft evaluators say Ingram’s lower body is quite powerful, enabling him to break tackles.
According to various reports, the Patriots have also had private workouts with UConn’s Jordan Todman (a Massachusetts native), Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams and Kentucky’s Derrick Locke. Williams is the biggest of those three players at 5-9 ½, 211 pounds, and is considered a solid runner between the tackles.
If/when there’s a new CBA and teams are allowed to sign free agents, keep Baltimore’s Willis McGahee (slated to be released by the Ravens) in mind. McGahee is 6-0, 235, and though he’s 29, he’s averaged just over 100 carries per season the last two years due to Ray Rice’s emergence.
Hi Shalise - Do you know who was on the senior selection committee for the Patriots Hall of Fame?
Michael Lee, Boston
The senior selection committee is a 10-member group approved by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to look at cases like center Jon Morris, who fell short of induction three times in the fan vote but certainly deserves a spot – and honoring Morris was the first act of the committee. It will meet again in five years.
To be considered for induction by the senior selection committee, a player must be retired at least 25 years and have been a finalist on the fan ballot once previously.
As to your question, Michael, the members are current and former longtime beat writers as well as team employees: broadcaster Gil Santos, equipment manager Don Brocher, football research director Ernie Adams, the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges, the Providence Journal’s Jim Donaldson, Howard Ulman of the Associated Press, Glen Farley of the Brockton Enterprise, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle’s Mark Farinella, and retired writers Ron Hobson (Quincy Patriot-Ledger) and Carlo Imelio (Springfield Republican).
Marquee draft choices find themselves in a “damned if you do, and damned if you don't” situation with the NFL draft. Do they participate to get their moment of glory, but then risk getting some veteran ticked off who will lay into them physically on the field? Or do they show solidarity with the players, but miss their moment? I want to get your thoughts on a possible win-win for the draftees: participate in the NFL draft, but when going up on the stage, emphatically refuse to shake Goodell's hand, or the hand of anyone representing the owner/management of the team that just drafted him. This allows the player his moment of glory, but shows solidarity with the players by sticking it to the owners and Goodell, so to speak, on a very public stage. What do you think?
That likely would be the very best option for these young men, Walter. They are in quite a difficult position, because for those players who are invited to the draft, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and likely the culmination of a boyhood dream to hear their name called by the NFL commissioner. We all remember Rob Gronkowski’s exuberant celebration with his family last year when his name was called – as he’s said, he was there with all four of his brothers and both of his parents, the first time all seven of them had been together in years, as his parents are divorced. That’s a memory that will probably stay with him for the rest of his life.
So your idea might be the best of both worlds for players: they get their moment, but they can shun Goodell, who is the embodiment of the league and the lockout that the owners have imposed. How many of them might do that remains to be seen – some players simply might not see the problem with shaking Goodell’s hand, while others may intend to brush him off but then forget in the excitement of the moment. Have to admit, I’d be interested to see Goodell’s reaction if he does get the brush-off.
Do you think the Pats should move into the top eight of the draft and get Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers? If so, how much will it cost them?
Ashwin, Los Angeles
There have already been reports that the Patriots are ready to wheel and deal and are willing to part with one of their first-round picks, Ashwin, which isn’t a surprise given the team’s recent history during the draft.
Currently, New England’s top three picks are the 17th, 28th and 33rd (first pick of the second round) – under the draft value chart created by Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys in the 1990s, the 17th pick is worth 950 points, the 28th 660 points and the 33rd 580 points. It takes 1300 points to move up to the 10th spot, and the fifth pick is valued at 1600 points. Using those parameters, the Patriots could move up as high as fifth if they packaged their two first-round slots. By pairing the 17th and 33rd picks, they could acquire the sixth pick, and by pairing the 28th and 33rd, they could move up to the 11 or 12 range.
That’s just one way of looking at how they could move up, but it isn’t a hard-and-fast way to do it. Last year, the Panthers gave the Patriots that second-round pick, which became extremely valuable after Carolina wound up with the worst record in the league and therefore picks first in every round, in exchange for a third-round spot they used on Armanti Edwards.
As for Bowers, it seems like there are a lot of question marks for him, from whether he was a one-year wonder at Clemson last year to his recovering knee, to whether he’s best suited in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. If it were me in charge, I’d move up to get Texas A&M’s Von Miller, who has been compared to Clay Matthews – a k.a. the one that got away.
Who does the commissioner represent in these current negotiations, owners or players? How can we get rid of this buffoon? He's a disgrace!
Paul King, Weymouth
Roger Goodell represents the owners, Paul. The 32 NFL owners hired him as commissioner in August 2006. Goodell had spent the majority of his career working for the NFL, and was the league’s chief operating officer at the time he was elected commissioner, beating out four other early candidates. Ultimately, he was selected over league counsel Gregg Levy, who is now one of the NFL’s lead attorneys in its upcoming court case against the players. Patriots owner Robert Kraft was one of Goodell’s biggest champions during the process; their relationship goes back years.
But since it was the owners who chose Goodell, it would ultimately be the owners who would fire Goodell, though that seems unlikely. While I understand your frustration at the current state of things between the league and players, remember that Goodell isn’t the one who ultimately flipped the switch on the lockout – it was the owners’ decision.
Now that the union is decertified and the players are locked out, does this change the rules for trading players or draft picks? I am especially interested in knowing if the Patriots can make deals before or during the draft to trade up or trade down. For example; could Pats trade a number 1 or a couple of other picks for Miles Austin?
John Spencer, Lynn
As long as the lockout is ongoing, John, there can be no trading of players. During the draft, teams can trade only draft picks – so your Miles Austin notion, while intriguing, won’t be possible unless the NFL and players come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement before the draft begins on April 28.
And once the draft ends, teams cannot contact the players they just chose. Nor can they sign those undrafted rookies; those young men will unfortunately languish until a new CBA is in place and business picks up as usual in the NFL.
Now that the NFL has moved the kick off up 5 yards, where will the ball be placed when it is kicked out of bounds?
Bill Hurley, Hudson
Under the new rule, Bill, the penalty effectively doesn’t change – a team can still choose to either take possession at its own 40-yard line or at the spot where the kick went out of bounds.
The wording of the out of bounds penalty had to be changed slightly; because the previous kickoff spot was the 30-yard line, the rule read that the receiving team could take possession 30 yards from the spot of the kickoff; since the kickoff spot has been moved up to the 35, the rule now says a team can take possession 25 yards from the spot of the kickoff. Both ways mean teams get to start at their 40.