NFL reporter and XM radio host Adam Caplan states that the Patriots are one of five teams interested in DT Amobi Okoye. Okoye was the 10th overall pick of the 2007 draft but never lived up to that draft status. With the Patriots getting away from being strictly a 3-4, two-gap defense it opens up the door to look at players like Okoye who would never have been a consideration just a couple years ago; he’s a bit undersized for that scheme but has enough speed and power where he could be productive in the right scheme. He’s only 25 years old, so under the right conditions he could have a great deal of productive time ahead of him – depending on whether or not he fulfills the Patriots’ commandment of “football is important to him”, as Tom Curran points out for CSNNE. The Bears (who he played for last year) are one of the teams reportedly showing interest; besides the Pats the others are Denver, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay.
Another day, another Matt Forte to the Pats rumor; this one started by a column from Rotoworld‘s Evan Silva; he speculates that the Pats will trade a 2nd and 6th round draft pick for Forte. Now I wouldn’t mind seeing Forte run the ball for the Pats, but I just don’t see this happening. The Patriots still have multiple areas on defense that are in need of an upgrade; they’re better off utilizing that 2nd round pick in some form on that side of the ball. Is it a coincidence that this article comes from a fantasy sports site?
I think this preoccupation with improving the Patriots offense – you know, the one that averaged 32 points and 428 yards per game last year – is indeed due to the popularity of fantasy sports as well as video games. Besides, this isn’t baseball, this is the NFL where there is a very real thing called the salary cap. Even if the Patriots did sign Forte, did anybody stop to consider how much it would cost to sign him, and more importantly how much that would restrict the Pats ability to sign or extend other players, both this year and beyond?
I also think the national media tends to not have a close enough pulse on any single team when they formulate an opinion such as this one. I have also seen speculation that the Pats would draft a running back in the first round, for example. The basis of that logic is that the Patriots lost BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, and now the Pats have a gaping hole that they desperately need to fill. But while others play checkers the Patriots play chess: they’re a move or two ahead of these national columnists; they anticipated that loss and addressed that need a year ago when they drafted Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
This is why when it comes to the coverage of the Patriots (or any other NFL team for that matter) I put far more weight on the opinions of local writers rather than national columnists. People like Christopher Price, Jeff Howe, Greg Bedard, Nick Underhill, Karen Guregian and others are going to know far more about what is going on with the Pats and what they are likely to do than writers like Silva, Peter King, John Clayton, Peter Prisco or Michael Silver ever will. Ricky Doyle of NESN concurs, noting that a deal for the Bears running back is completely unnecessary.
While on the subject of the salary cap, I am definitely looking forward to tonight’s weekly Patriots Fourth and Two broadcast, where Michael Felger and Marc Bertrand will discuss the relevancy of the NFL salary cap. Last time he was on Felger dropped his contrarian sports talk radio schtick and was quite insightful; whether or not he will be the same way on this topic remains to be seen. You can listen in here; the broadcast commences at 7 p.m. ET.
Mike Reiss of espnBoston has his ranking of possible Pats openers, trying to predict who the Patriots will open the 2012 season against. I am going to disagree with Mike on this one: in my opinion the teams he ranks at the top (Broncos, Ravens, 49ers, Texans, Jets) should be flipped around; to me they are the least likely to appear on the Patriots schedule in week one. The reason for that is that since it will have been seven months since a meaningful game was played, the interest level is so high that there is no need to schedule a compelling matchup then. This is a business, and the best business decision would be to set up as many of those games as possible during ratings sweeps, which is usually from the end of October to late November. When the regular season kicks off 32 fan bases have a lot of confidence and high hopes; similar to Thanksgiving Day games they are going to watch whatever is on. The AFCCG rematch and Brady-Manning XIII can wait.
Christopher Price of WEEI has Eleven Under The Radar Prospects For The Patriots To Ponder. For those getting tired of reading about Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning it is a welcome breath of fresh air that digs deeper than the top two dozen NFL draft prospects. Appalachian State WR Brian Quick, Bethune-Cookman DE/OLB Ryan Davis, UMass TE Emil Igwenagu, South Dakota G/T Tom Compton, Presbyterian DB Justin Bethel, Furman CB Ryan Steed, Albion CB Chris Greenwood, Maine S Jerron McMillian and S Trevor Coston, and Merrimack LB Shawn Loiseau are included in his column – although he warns us that Quick may no longer be considered to be under the radar, writing that “there’s plenty of pre-draft buzz around Quick, as his size and senior numbers (71 catches, 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns) mean he likely won’t last past the third round”.
Chris Warner of
Patriots Daily Boston Sports Media Watch has his Patriots 2012 Draft Wish List, where he mentions Clemson’s Andre Branch and Syracuse’s Chandler Jones as college defensive ends that could fit in well as outside linebackers with the Pats as first round picks, UConn’s Kendall Reyes as another possibility, and about a dozen others that could fit in well from day two and three from next month’s draft.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe writes that it seems there’s a bit of angst in the ranks at NFL meetings, noting that the penalties based on the bounties in New Orleans and the salary cap transgressions by the Redskins and Cowboys have caused a distraction and scrutiny that the NFL would have preferred to avoid. After last year’s contentious CBA negotiations, wasn’t this off-season supposed to be sunshine and rainbows? At the end of the column there is an interesting comment from Roger Goodell about Warren Sapp that gives the implication that the NFL Network has complete autonomy from league offices. How else do you explain the continued employment of Sapp, Michael Irvin, and some of the other ‘expert analysts’ at NFLN.
“I think I would say to NFL Network staff, as well as anybody else, you better be sure of your information before you report it,’’ Goodell said. “I didn’t see his comment, but he’s inaccurate so let’s start with that.’’
Tom Curran has some dry wit gems in his Leftovers from breakfast with Belichick, writing on some of the great questions and answers from the coach at the annual owner’s meeting.
Happy Birthday to Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who turns 26 today
Actor Vince Vaughn turns 42 today
Country legend Reba McEntire turns 57
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