Ten quick thoughts on the Patriots' offseason so far while wondering if Brandon Browner's agent would be an upgrade on Corey Potter ...
1. If that photo represents the final scene of Vince Wilfork's stellar Patriots career, well, that just stinks. He deserves a better ending to his 10 years here than riding off into the sunset on a cart. But the reality is that football has very little room for appropriate endings and farewells. One day, you're anchoring the defense, a franchise bulwark. The next, you're a 32-year-old, 350-pound lineman coming off Achilles' surgery who wasn't playing particularly well before you blew our your heel. It's harsh that Wilfork, who apparently asked for his release rather than take a pay cut, could depart so abruptly. He's earned the money on that contract. But the system is set up where situations like this are common -- the forecast for what you will be going forward doesn't justify the present salary. I hope the Patriots release him, he realizes the market for an older run-stopping interior lineman isn't what he thought it would be, and he comes back for a salary that satisfies both sides. He still belongs here, still fits. Just not at his current rate.
2. That 2004 Patriots defense, which ranked second in the league in points allowed, looks better with each passing year. Mainstays Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, and Willie McGinest (9.5 sacks) all started 16 games. Wilfork and Keith Traylor (10 starts) split time in the middle. Richard Seymour played 15 games, while Mike Vrabel started 15 of 16., while Rosey Colvin played all 16 without a start. Roman Phifer, Ted Johnson, Asante Samuel (eight starts after Ty Law got hurt in Week 7) and Ty Warren were all still around. Rosey Colvin played 16 games with just one start. Such a talented, versatile group. I'm not sure they were appreciated in their time the way they should have been.
3. I'll say it again since it didn't take the first time: I don't get Patriots fans' coveting Ol' Blood and Guts Steve Smith beyond the name recognition and the fact he had a big game against Aqib Talib this season. He's an accomplished pain in the [lower body], which would be something you could look past if he weren't 35 (in May), coming off a season in which he slowed considerably (745 yards, 11.6 per catch in 15 games), and doesn't seem the type to deal with a diminished role gracefully.
4. In case you were wondering about the precise dimensions of Revis Island, out this from Pro Football Focus. (Especially the second screenshot/diagram.) No matter how the other pieces fall into place in the Patriots' defensive backfield, we can already draw this giddy conclusion from the visual proof: He changes everything.
5. Favorite Revis stat? Thirty-one passes defensed in 2009. Would love to know how many he batted down that were intended for Randy Moss over the years. Ty Law's career high in passes defensed, for what it's worth, was 23 in 2003. The NFL started tracking the stat officially in 2001.
6. Hope Julian Edelman stays, but man, he would be a great fit with the Niners. It is interesting that they're pursuing him with Anquan Boldin already on the roster. Suggests they don't see him as a slot guy, and has he's been quick to note, 51 percent of his snaps this season actually came when he lined up outside.
7. There's extra delight to be found in Jets fans' reactions to Revis choosing their chief rival, agitator, and superior (at least during the last decade-and-a-half). I'd suggest his arrival, via one-year layover in Tampa Bay, finally counters the Jets' thievery of Curtis Martin after the 1997 season, in terms of a beloved player willingly switching jerseys and allegiances. But really, though the transaction didn't involve a specific player, the day Bill Belichick resigned as HC of the NYJ and headed to Foxborough has long since trumped anything the Jets pulled off on the Patriots, right?
8. I imagine if Brandon Browner does end up with the Patriots, we'll have to stop chirping about all of the banned-substance suspensions (I believe the standing count is seven) that have occurred in Seattle on Pete Carroll's watch. I can deal with that -- I think you'd have to be deliberately naive to believe that the Seahawks are the exception and the 31 other teams don't have anything worse than lentils and flax seed in their locker rooms. It's not so much interesting that the Seahawks have banned-substance users. It's that they keep getting caught.
9. So Revis and Logan Ryan are the starting corners next year, Kyle Arrington is in the slot, and Alfonzo Dennard is the high-quality backup, right? Or is there a chance Arrington, who's salary exceeds his production, gets cut? I figure Browner profiles more as a safety, filling the Steve Gregory role. And I'm probably the only one who still holds out hope that Adrian Wilson will be a part of this next year.
10. As for today's Completely Random Football Card:
Richard Sherman and D'Angelo Hall and LeGarrette Blount (on Aqib Talib's behalf) can bicker about who is the best cornerback in the league. It's a legit debate. But the best cornerback I've ever seen, certain Prime Time performers included? Mr. Haynes, right here, without debate.
Follow Chad Finn on Twitter: @GlobeChadFinn
Be sure to stop by our always scrappy Friday chat, during which we'll discuss Darrelle Revis's arrival, Vince Wilfork's requested departure, the state of the Red Sox as the regular season nears, and the usual media matters. Check in below to join the fun.
In March 2013, Mike Salk replaced fired Boston radio legend Glenn Ordway on WEEI's afternoon drive program.
A year later, Salk is moving on.
The Sudbury native announced at the end of Wednesday's "Salk and Holley" program he is resigning from the station.
He said on his Twitter account (changed to @TheMikeSalk yesterday afternoon) that he would have more details on his future Thursday.
An industry source said he believed Salk was returning to Seattle, where he co-hosted the “Brock and Salk Show” along with former NFL quarterback Brock Huard for three years on ESPN 710 before leaving for WEEI. Salk is expected to have a more prominent role than he had when he left.
Michael Holley, Salk's co-host for the past year, will be paired with a former co-host of his own Thursday. Dale Arnold, who worked with Holley on WEEI's midday show before they were broken up in a reshuffling in February 2011, will fill in Friday, just as he has for a couple of days this week while Salk was on vacation.
A spokesman at WEEI's parent company Entercom Communications said the station will use a rotating cast of hosts alongside Holley in the immediate future while searching for Salk's permanent replacement.
Salk's short-lived run at WEEI was in part due to challenging circumstances and in part his own fault.
He was hired and emboldened by then-Entercom Boston vice president/market manager Jeff Brown. But when Brown departed unexpectedly in September, replaced by Phil Zachary, Salk lost his chief advocate at the station.
The difficult task of replacing Ordway, who maintained a loyal following, became even more challenging after Brown left.
But it quickly became evident that he he was not the right fit. Salk was somewhat familiar to Boston sports radio listeners, having previously been on the air at WWZN 1510 and the now-defunct ESPN 890 in the Boston market.
But even though he grew up here, his homogenized style, honed during his time at ESPN radio, made him seem like an outsider.
The Patriots didn't win the Super Bowl. They didn't win Day 1 of free agency, either.
If you're thinking what I'm thinking, there's only one thing left to do: Operation Overthrow.
No, that's a Steve Grogan reference. It's the plan. Right -- the plan.
Meet me in the parking lot of the Red Wing Diner on Route 1. You bring the tar, I'll supply the feathers.
It's happening, and it's overdue. We're storming the Gillette castle. It's time to depose this Belichick clown once and for all, before the Patriots, you know, actually have a losing season or something.
Sure, in an era in which the rules are stacked against consistency, let alone a dynasty, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls, could own at least two more Lombardi Trophies with a little luck and better health, have made the AFC title game three straight seasons, including during a 2013 season in which their transcendent tight end blew out his knee, their other, exceptionally versatile tight end decided it better to be a non-fictional Tony Montana than play with the modern-day Joe Montana, and multiplayer nucleus of the run defense ended up on injured reserve.
A dozen regular-season and a trip to the final four is all well and good, but let me ask you this: How many Free-Agency Winner banners hang in Gillette Stadium? That's right, none. None. Well, unless you were really excited about Danny Amendola last year. But that doesn't count. It was only worth a plaque.
And just look at these no-names and never-weres they're lining up for visits: Shelley Smith? He's less famous than the ESPN reporter. Brandon LaFell? Pretty sure that last name is French for "can't stay upright." Someone named Shaughnessy? OK, Belichick's flat trolling us now.
So who's with me? Tar. Feathers. A hoodie in tatters. Revenge.
All right, so maybe that's a little over the top. We can hold the feathers, I guess. But in a day in which I heard one sports radio caller (Hey, I Have To Listenï¿½) say flat-out that Belichick is the worst general manager in football, even the stupidest theories and plans of attack seem somewhat feasible.
I understand why Patriots fans are frustrated today. Aqib Talib, an amusing and talented player whose arrival in 2013 changed the defense almost instantly, got an offer he couldn't refuse from the team that ended the Patriots season. Because he is not completely insane, he did not refuse it.
Forget that six years and $57 million -- with $26 million guaranteed -- is an absurd overpay for a player who had so much baggage he cost the Patriots just a fourth-round pick in the November 2012 deal with the Bucks. Talib will be missed. He was a damn good cornerback, fun to watch, gets too much grief for his postseason injuries (football players get hurt playing football at random times -- go figure), and he's joining a rival. Bummer.
But hey, at least it means the Broncos probably won't be signing Darrelle Revis too, unless they've figured out another way to cheat the salary cap. Wait -- does John Elway even know there's a salary cap? It's not like the Broncos abided by one when he was playing.
Envying teams that make a big move in free agency is understandable. And it's aggravating as hell when one of your team's best players joins the team that stood in the way of a sixth trip to the Super Bowl in the Tom Brady era. The notion that the Patriots should be loading up to get Brady that fourth ring is comes from the right place, even if it's undisciplined in the long term. If there's any solace to be taken in watching the Broncos do just that for Manning, it's the knowledge that sometime in January, he'll make sure they're best-laid plans implode spectacularly.
Maybe that comes before the Broncos and Patriots inevitably collide, maybe it comes after. But drawing conclusions on where the Patriots are, where they are headed, and whether they're roster-building strategy is sound is absolutely ignorant at this point in the process, roughly six months before they play their next game.
Losing Talib is disappointing, but there's no way he's worth that price. I suspect Alterraun Verner is raising an eyebrow in his agent's direction today, and I still think he would have been a great fit here.
As useful consolation prizes, I wouldn't mind the best available Cromartie -- Antonio (tall, troubled at times, and freakishly talented), Dominique Rodgers-, even Warren here. There are good corners available, some of whom we would have preferred to Talib less than two years ago.
As for the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes, well, the mewling we've-got-to-get-him-or-else spoiled minority aren't particularly interested in context or perspective today. As cool as it would be to see him join the Patriots, it would rate as one of the great upsets in sports history if he takes an offer that isn't the most lucrative.
In the frustration of having not won a Super Bowl in the past nine years with Brady and Belichick at the helm of the operation, two things are lost.
1) It's damn hard to win a Super Bowl. Don't you remember that? You need more than talent and quality coaching -- you need breaks, and they ones they got in 2001, '03, and '04 haven't come their way in the biggest moments recently. Guess what? That's sports.
2) We have it so good with this team. In those nine years, they made two Super Bowls, five AFC title games, and won eight division titles. They've won more than any team of this era, and this era is not over even if they -- gasp -- didn't dazzle on Day 1 of free agency. I'm pretty sure they'll add some football players. Good ones, too. Maybe we'll even have heard of a few.
The Patriots' approach isn't splashy. On days like yesterday, it's not much fun. But man, it's almost always rewarding on those fall Sundays that matter. Try to enjoy it, will ya?
Judging by the assorted yelps and howls I heard on sports radio on my way in (hey, I get paid to listen), that photo represents the collective daydream of a vocal segment of Patriots fans as free agency dawns today.
Get Darrelle Revis.
Get Steve Smith.
Get out the checkbook!
Get a fourth Super Bowl for Tom Brady before the window closes!
I get it at a fundamental level. Realistic conjecture is a fun aspect to following sports; imagining an excellent player or another joining forces with the team you root for is a big part of being a fan, particularly when you are a kid. I'm still waiting for the Red Sox to trade Carney Lansford for George Brett.
The tampering/free-agency silly season -- something the NFL has turned into a genuine event, like baseball's hot stove -- is supposed to be fun, and for the most part it is. Haven't we all been pining to see Larry Fitzgerald catch Brady's passes since, I don't know, he was a sophomore at Pittsburgh? Heck, I think I've been drawing up ways -- some even based in actual logic -- for the Red Sox to acquire Giancarlo Stanton since he was answering to Mike.
Sometimes those imagined transactions become reality (Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox ... I know), some just hover unfulfilled through the years (the Mariners seem oddly intent on keeping Felix Hernandez), some are orchestrated dishonestly to get the phones ringing ("If Hoodie doesn't get two Calvin Johnson clones, this offseason is already a failure, caller!"), and some morph from fantasy to potential reality in the time it takes to read 140 characters.
Two teams to watch on CB Darrelle Revis once Tampa releases him: Philadelphia and New England (Jets fans shudder).— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
So there it is -- the possibility that Revis, such a worthy rival during his time with the Jets, could join the Patriots once the Bucs shed him and his $13 million base salary if they don't deal him first. (There's no way the Patriots trade for him.)
I'm skeptical Revis, who will be 29 when the season begins, ends up in Philly, which is still recovering from the Nnamdi Asomugha disaster and may be out of the high-end cornerback market for a while.
I'm more skeptical Revis ends up with the Patriots for one reason: There is a ridiculous amount of money out there in free agency. The Raiders, for instance, have roughly $65 million to play with. The Browns also are well under the cap. The Patriots are in the middle of the pack.
As my colleague Ben Volin calculated a few days ago, the Patriots could pursue Revis without requiring illogical adjustments to certain players' salaries. It's doable, which takes it out of that daydream realm.
But there will be no bargain to be had here -- I cannot think of any contemporary of Revis's who has been more chronically focused his contract. He's Rod Tidwell with bad hands. He's about the money.
I suspect he'll end up somewhere where his bank account swells with a fat new up-front bonus, with the chance to go to a Super Bowl a distant second among his considerations. Hopefully he doesn't find both away from the Patriots and end up with the Broncos as Champ Bailey's successor for the next decade.
No matter whether they do or do not end up with Revis or retain Aqib Talib by 4:02 p.m. today, I hope we can resist the temptation to suggest they weren't aggressive enough in free agency.
It annoys me no end -- because it's wrong -- that the Patriots' won't spend money in free agency. They'll spend if the player fits a certain criteria, like Rosevelt Colvin in 2003 -- he's young, already accomplished and still ascending, smart, fits what they are trying to do, and may be even a little unsung.
I wouldn't know the guy to the left here, Titans free-agent cornerback Alterraun Verner, if he horse-collared me in the line at Dunkin's this morning. But based on what those who know him says about him, he certainly seems to fit the profile of what Bill Belichick covets in a player.
If the Patriots end up with Verner, but not Revis or Talib, I suspect that would be treated as a lost opportunity by many, and that's foolish. Signing Talib for $4 million to $6 million less per season than Revis also would be a good thing -- it allows them to secure another quality player or two. Maybe it's the difference in whether Julian Edelman returns or not.
Just to entirely ruin the daydream in the hours before the frenzy begins, this much needs to be made clear: signing Steve Smith would be ridiculous. He's 35, slowing down, has punched out two teammates that we know of, and really has little value beyond name recognition. He'd make a swell Jet.
Maybe the Patriots will surprise us and do something of note today. But history seems to suggest they won't, and that's fine too. Big spending assures a day of headlines and nothing more. The Patriots don't have to sign the big names to make that fourth championship possible. They just need to sign the right ones, whether that's today or in the less dramatic tomorrows to follow. Find the Vrabels, not the Beisels, you know?
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.