Welcome to the Patriot Way, the best place to get up to date on all New England Patriots news online.
Mike Loyko at NEPatriotsDraft.com has the much anticipated breakdown of the New England Patriots salary cap situation. WIth so much talked about it, he breaks it down to refute the chatter online about the Patriots being limited by their salary cap number. Basically, the Patriots have $7 million in cap space and can get to $30 million without too much lost; however, despite being able to create the space the real issue becomes whether they plan to load up and take advantage of all the cap space available to them with a bit of creativity.
The gang at OvertheCap.com has a great tool to manipulate the cap and see what needs to be done to do whatever necessary this off-season. I have been playing with it to try and free up cap space and not bankrupt down the road (got to be realistic!). You can play with the Patriots cap here and see what happens when Aqib Talib is franchised or Vince Wilfork is released.
Staying on the salary cap and team free agents, Christopher Price over at WEEI.com checks in on the franchise tag and implications with Talib and Julian Edelman.
Andrew Martin at Yahoo! Sports looks at some of the Patriots biggest offseason questions identifying backup quarterback/quarterback of the future, defensive line, and tight ends and wide receivers. I would add Aqib Talib and cornerback and another pass rushing defensive end opposite Chandler Jones to bring pressure and phase out Rob Ninkovich. Forget the secondary of Seattle, Cliff Avril at right defensive end was a beast and showed what a disruptive defensive end can do to single-handedly pressure Peyton Manning and create turnovers by hitting/moving him off his spot.
Doug Kyed at NESN.com checks in on cornerback Kyle Arrington who is going under the knife for groin surgery today. Arrington played all season with the injury which he suffered in week three. He had some troubles during the season, and an injury like that certainly clears up a lot of the “why”.
The always informative and entertaining Nick Underhill at MassLive.com checks in on the Pepper Johnson comments about getting out from under the shadow of Bill Belichick on Buffalo radio and how players can have trouble getting a read on him. I am sure Belichick has no issue with Johnson leaving to make his own way. Remember, Belichick used to bristle and be upset about the “Big Bill/Little Bill” comments regarding Bill Parcells. Belichick was (in his mind) a contemporary of Parcells. He felt he ran the Giants defense almost autonomously and no doubt was unhappy about the credit Parcells got.
Steve Balestrieri at PatFans.com looks at another Patriot free agent in his continuing off-season series, concentrating on linebacker Brandon Spikes. As always in New England, there is likely more to come out about the injured reserve debacle at the end off the season. With Buffalo now employing Spikes’ coach (Pepper Johnson) the natural fit seems to be staying in the division for Spikes. Steve shares more of his thoughts on the Patriots off-season with Russ Goldman and Derek Havens on the Patriots Fourth And Two podcast found here.
Finally, don’t forget to check in at MusketFire.com for Cyrus Geller’s final report card catching up with the Patriots Special Teams. There are links to the entire series of pieces on the site. Good point on punter Ryan Allen stepping in for Zoltan Mesko. Hard to believe the fanbase was all worked up about this move at the end of training camp. It goes to show what a passionate fan base there is in New England where punter discussion gets so heated. Allen did a great job all season long at a significant cost savings.
Also, if you missed my piece on revisiting and grading the Patriots draft picks in the Bill Belichick era from last week you can check it out here. I started it last summer but the whole Aaron Hernandez saga interrupted it and I had to leave it at 2007. Now that it is the off-season, I can get back to it and get the rest of the recent drafts graded out. The 2009 draft revisit and grading is underway and be sure to look for it soon at MusketFire.com.