First of all, sorry for the lack of blog updates over the weekend. I was on assignment, finishing up Leg 1 of my Training Camp Extravaganza, and it shouldn’t have gone down like that in the teeth of training camp. It won’t again.
Getting my feet back on the ground here in New England, the buzz is picking up again on free agent pass-rusher Aaron Schobel, a 32-year-old who could re-energize what still looks like a lackluster Patriots pressure group. And it makes all the sense in the world that New England would want to bring in a player who can be as dynamic as Schobel.
A few thoughts, after digging around and having spent some time with the Bills last week …
1) The Bills’ decision on Schobel was, simply, a desire to move on. The veteran did waver back-and-forth on retirement — and was torn as recently as a week ago — and hadn’t taken part in Buffalo’s offseason program under a new regime. Buddy Nix, Chan Gailey and Co. wanted to move forward, and it just wasn’t worth waiting for a 32-year-old who wasn’t going to be a part of the long-term future.
2) Money means something here. Schobel wriggled free of the rebuilding Bills, but in doing so, he also walked away from the final four years of a seven-year, $50.5 million pact he struck with Buffalo three summers ago. He’ll certainly try to recoup some of that, and the Patriots will have to decide if he can play in their base defense or if he’s strictly a situational rusher for them. That’s where the “value” part comes in to the equation, although I’d argue you can’t put a price tag on pass rush.
3) If you’re expecting a rah-rah locker room leader, I don’t think you’re getting that here. This guy will come in and be competitive and accountable and all of that. But from what I understand, he’s not going to be any kind of tone-setter for the defense. He’s more suited to be one of the guys, not the guy.
4) Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Schobel might not want to take part in two-a-days. Yup, you heard it right. So there’s a pretty good chance that, from a timing standpoint, whomever he signs with gets him just after camp breaks.
5) The Texans, as has been written, are a runaway favorite. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle has more here. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be enticed — financially or otherwise — to change his mind. What will be interesting is to see if New England still has the kind of intangible value here that it used to. A vet can’t exactly count on gravy-training a ring here.
6) Bill Belichick has cut breaks for vets in the past. Roman Phifer, if I’m not mistaken, had a pretty sweet deal affording him family time. Something like that might need to be in play here for this to work from Schobel’s standpoint. He’s got three young kids and lives in the Houston area.
So now, the big question … Is Schobel worth it? And I think it depends. If you consider yourself a legitimate Super Bowl contender, then yes he is. You’d have to think that in every year for the rest of Tom Brady’s career, the Patriots would put themselves in that group, and that’s why I do think it’s worth going hard after this guy.
Whether he responds to those overtures, of course, is another matter entirely. I’ll check in with you guys when I get down to the stadium in a little bit.