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Todd McShay takes a look at how the Patriots might draft

03.15.12 at 11:54 am ET
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ESPN’s Todd McShay joined Dale Arnold and Kirk Minihane on the Dennis and Callahan Show Thursday morning to talk about whom the Patriots might draft. Here is McShay’s take (and to read more ‘Potential Patriots’ click here):

(Regarding the possibility of drafting a wide receiver)

I can see them possibly, if you get to 22 or 23, somewhere in that range and there’€™s a player on the board that they’€™re looking for, a pass-rusher, basically, in my opinion, or possibly a defensive back that maybe slips. Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. Mark Barron at safety from Alabama. Or let’€™s say an Andre Branch from Clemson, a pass rusher. A position of high value.

I like some wide receivers, and I know they need a wide receiver, but I just don’€™t know you always package picks and move up. To me, if they move up a few spots and don’€™t have to give up a whole lot, even one of their two second round picks to move up five or six spots to solidify a player they believe is smart enough to play in their front and be versatile enough to play 3-4 or a 4-3 at defensive end or outside linebacker and can do the things the they’€™re looking for which seems to be a rarity because they never draft pass rushers. Jermaine Cunningham is really the only one the last several years they’€™ve targeted in the early rounds. I think it’€™s worth it, but judging by their recent trend it’€™s something they like to do.

(Who are some wide receivers who might be possible fits with the Patriots?)

Justin Blackmon is obviously the premier wide receiver in this draft. After that there’€™s definitely a drop-off. Michael Floyd, to me, if he’€™s there at 27, take him. I know you don’€™t like drafting wide receivers. I agree with their draft philosophy in that regard. I would rarely draft a receiver in the first round. You go through and do the statistics, the trends, the history of wide receivers, you can get these guys, really good players, in the second, third and fourth, all the way down. I just don’€™t know why, unless you really like a player for what you’€™re doing, you’€™re going to spend a high pick.

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Patriots, Todd McShay,

Report: LaRon Landry slated to make a visit to Foxboro

03.15.12 at 10:40 am ET
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According to the Boston Herald, free agent safety LaRon Landry is slated to visit the Patriots this weekend.

The sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft has suffered from various injuries the last two seasons, slowing down what had initially been a promising career with the Washington Redskins. He was put on the injured reserve list by the Redskins with three games to go in the ’11 season due to an Achilles tendon injury. According to the Herald, Landry’s health is currently good (as he evidently has tried to portray in various photos posted on Twitter).

Landry’s best season came in ’09 when the 6-foot, 227-pounder made 78 tackles.

For more on Landry’s career, click here.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, LaRon Landry,

Report: Former Colts wideout Anthony Gonzalez to visit Patriots

03.15.12 at 8:29 am ET
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According to the Boston Herald, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez — the Colts’ first-round pick in the 2007 draft — will visit with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium this weekend, with the wideout flying into town Friday.

The former Ohio State standout’s best season came in 2008 when he made 58 catches. But injuries have hampered Gonzalez since ’08, making just five catches for 67 yards over the past two seasons. The 27-year-old has also played just 11 games the last three seasons.

For more about Gonzalez, click here.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Anthony Gonzalez, Colts,

Long-term deal for Wes Welker doesn’t make sense for Patriots

03.15.12 at 6:00 am ET
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What are you thinking if you’re Wes Welker?

Vincent Jackson — who has caught 242 passes since the start of the 2007 season, or 312 fewer than Welker — signed a $55 million contract ($26 million guaranteed) on Tuesday. Pierre Garcon — with zero 1,000-yard seasons and a career high of 70 catches — inked a $42.5 million deal with the Redskins ($21.5 million guaranteed).

And now Calvin Johnson — probably the best wide receiver in the NFL, sure, but look at his numbers vs. Welker’s since 2007 (Johnson: 366 catches, 5,872 yards, 49 TDs, Welker: 554 catches, 6,105 yards, 31 TDs) — gets the first real holy s–t deal of the offseason, $132 million ($60 million guaranteed).

OK, let’s get a couple of obvious disclaimers out of the way — Welker is older than Jackson, Garcon or Johnson. He’s blown out his ACL and MCL. Maybe you didn’t know this, but he isn’t 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. All very fair and all part of the reason Welker finds himself at this point contractually.

Look, Wes Welker is going to be paid at least $9.5 million dollars to play football this season. Hard to believe, but there has never been a folk song written about a guy making about 10 million bucks to catch (mostly) spirals from one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the history of the league.

But in a world of millionaires, it’s plenty fair to suggest that Welker, given what he has done for this franchise and his production level compared to the very best at his position, is kind of getting screwed by the Patriots.

If he’s pissed about that, he has every right to be. Wes Welker is twice the football player Vincent Jackson is on Jackson’s best day. DeSean Jackson signed a $51 million contract on Wednesday. Yup, the same guy who was deactivated for skipping a team meeting and was benched for basically showing no balls against the Patriots last season while dropping a pair of TD passes (Welker had eight catches for 115 yards and two TDs in the same game) just got handed $51 million dollars strictly on potential. Forget about not being able to carry Wes Welker’s jock, DeSean Jackson wouldn’t even put forward the effort to try.

And Wes Welker — the most productive wide receiver in football the last five seasons — has a one-year deal.

Here’s the thing, though — it’s not going to change. We’ve now passed the point where a long-term deal makes sense for either side, really. If Welker (and agent David Dunn) are looking at these deals and truly believe that kind of money is what is deserved, they will never get it from Bill Belichick. Not going to happen.

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Read More: Calvin Johnson, pierre garcon, Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker

Upcoming schedule of Pro Days

03.14.12 at 4:22 pm ET
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Here’s a look at some upcoming Pro Days.

March 15: Delaware State, Louisiana Tech, Michigan, UNLV, Nicholls State, Oregon, Southern Illinois, Townson, Tusculum, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wayne State (Mich.), William & Mary
March 16: Arizona State, James Madison, Missouri State, Oregon State, Richmond, Temple, Tennessee, West Virginia
March 19: Appalachian State, Arizona, Florida Atlantic, Iowa, Montana State, Rice, Southern, Wake Forest
March 20: Brown, Idaho, Iowa State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Monmouth, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Carolina A&T, South Florida, Texas
March 21: Baylor, Boston College, Houston, N.C. State, North Dakota State, Rutgers, San Diego State, San Jose State, Tulane, Western Kentucky
March 22: East Carolina, LSU, Maine, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee-Chattanooga
March 23: Cornell, Jackson State, Missouri Western, N.C. Central, Southern Mississippi, Vanderbilt
March 26: Indiana State
March 27: Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Merrimack College, Stephen F. Austin, Washburn
March 28: Central Florida, Connecticut, Newberry, Northern Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Carolina State
March 29: Brigham Young, Georgia Southern
March 30: Bethune-Cookman, Dartmouth
April 3: Abilene Christian, Notre Dame, Stonybrook
April 4: SMU

Some thoughts on the addition of Jonathan Fanene to the Patriots’ defensive front

03.14.12 at 3:36 pm ET
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The addition of free agent defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene brings more versatility to the New England defensive front.

Fanene, who will turn 30 next week, has played seven seasons in the NFL, all with Cincinnati. And while he doesn’t appear to be an every-down player — he played more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps on only four occasions in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus — he has experience at both end and tackle in Cincinnati’s 4-3 defense.

The Utah product and native of American Samoa recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2011, and making 10 starts in 2009, he posted a career-high 36 tackles and six sacks.

In New England, he will provide the Patriots with an interior pass-rushing threat, one they’ve lacked since Mike Wright suffered a concussion midway through the 2010 season. He should also provide some rotational depth along each spot in the Patriots’ defensive front.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Jonathan Fanene, Mike Wright,

Five thoughts on the second day of NFL free agency and how it all relates to the Patriots

03.14.12 at 2:44 pm ET
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Here are five thoughts on what’s gone on during Day 2 of NFL free agency and how it relates to the Patriots:

1. Per a league source, the Patriots will host safety Steve Gregory on a visit Wednesday afternoon. Gregory is a 29-year-old undrafted free agent out of Syracuse who has spent six years in the NFL, all with the Chargers. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder does have some positional versatility — he has worked as a safety, and also spent time in the slot and on special teams. Hard-nosed and versatile, Gregory (who was suspended for PEDs in 2010) had 67 tackles and one interception in 2011. As some have already noted, there’s a belief that Gregory was out of position playing alongside free safety Eric Weddle in San Diego, and could be better suited playing more of a free safety role next to someone like Patrick Chung. (It tells you something about the state of the safety position that Gregory is starting to develop a following — a league source indicates that Gregory has at least four other teams who are interested in his services, including the Broncos and Panthers, with a few more teams poised to inquire about him by the end of the day.)

2. In addition, the Patriots have reportedly expressed interest in safety LaRon Landy, late of the Redskins. The five-year veteran was plagued with injuries last season, including an Achilles tendon problem that forced him to injured reserve in mid-December. The 6-foot, 220-pound Landry is a really interesting case — he has some working knowledge of a Bill Belichick-type of system, as he played in college for Nick Saban when Saban was at LSU. Because he’s coming off an injury, he’s likely to come at a discounted price. And with the depressed safety market, he could be the best value out there, especially when you consider the fact that he played very well over the first three years of his career (including a 90-tackle season in 2009). But the 27-year-old has had major injury problems over the last two years — he’s played in just 17 games the last two seasons, and fair or not, there are concerns about him being able to stay on the field. (According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Jets, Eagles, Lions and Bears have also apparently expressed interest in Landry.) And I’m not even sure what to make of his arms.

3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to be the biggest name available among current Patriots’ free agents. The running back, who was attached to two “unknown teams” on Wednesday at a price of roughly $3 million to $4 million a year, will reportedly take a visit with Cincinnati, according to Cole. (It’s not known if the Bengals were one of those two teams that were previously listed on Tuesday.) Cincinnati would be a good landing spot for Green-Ellis — the Bengals have a lot of room under the cap, and the running back would give a playoff team a positive, dependable presence in the backfield. It’s also interesting to see the feedback from Patriots’ fan on Twitter regarding Green-Ellis’ situation. When faced with the prospect of losing Green-Ellis to a bigger deal somewhere else, almost everyone has wished him well. Speaks to his likeability among the New England fan base.
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Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Bill Belichick, Eric Weddle
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