Thank you to everyone for participating in this week’s mailbag. I’ve said it a few times already this week, but I really do believe the players and owners are making good progress toward ending the lockout. Then, we’ll have a whole slate of new storylines to discuss.
If your question wasn’t answered this week, please try again next week.
Jeff, I was very impressed with the turnout Tom Brady garnered for his workouts with one notable exception: Brandon Spikes. After his four-game suspension last season, he came back out of shape. There are no reports as to whether he is recovering from an injury, or does he just not feel like working hard enough to be an elite NFL player? Concerned of his attitude. Spikes should have been there! Why has there been no mention by any reporters from any media outlet?
It’s a good question, Ray, and I couldn’t find any reason for Spikes’ absence. However, there are plenty of reasons why a player could have missed those workouts — fear of injury and losing a contract, prior commitments, injury rehab, family sickness, travel issues, whatever. The point is, it’s really hard to fault anyone for not showing up until we can pinpoint the real reason.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was very hesitant to report who was missing because of my vantage point during the workouts. The media weren’t allowed inside the stadium, so I took attendance while standing behind a gate and peering in with binoculars. While I’m very confident about my ability to identify players, I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to call out anyone for not showing up because there was some slight room for error.
Spikes didn’t exactly have the cleanest rookie season when it came to off-field issues, but I do believe he is a very strong worker, and football is important to him. And remember, when he was on the field before his suspension, he was a heck of a player, especially against the run.
I won’t defend Spikes for his four-game suspension, but I also can’t call him — or anyone — out for missing the workouts because everyone has their own unique situations. Spikes is a good football player, and I strongly believe he’ll continue to be one.
This might be a stretch, but what do you think about the savvy Pats trading the lowest of their two first-round picks in 2012 and Ryan Mallett for the Redskins’ first-rounder in 2012 (most likely a very high pick). I am a Redskins fan, and if we don’t have a top 1-4 pick, I would take any quarterback with Mallett’s potential and a year behind Tom Brady and then still have a first-round pick. The Pats could really cause some havoc with all of those playmakers they could end up with.
If the Redskins wanted Mallett that badly, they could have taken him in April, and they showed they were very much willing to navigate through the top of the draft to select the players they coveted. I think it would be a no-brainer for the Patriots to make that trade, but it doesn’t make any sense for the Redskins to give up that much for Mallett.
I know a big deal has been made about rookies not getting playbooks, but does the rest of the team have them? And if they do, can’t they let them look at them?
The veterans have the task of being the rookies’ most valuable resource through the lockout, and the vets can do whatever they need to get the rookies on pace for the season. If they still have playbooks in their possession, they can certainly share them with the rookies.
The deal about the playbooks surrounded the coaching staff during that Friday of the draft when the lockout was temporarily enjoined. The NFL told teams the coaches weren’t allowed to hand out playbooks to the drafted players, but some teams did anyway. It’s a very gray area, and the NFL hasn’t done a very good job of explaining the actual rules.
But to the main point, the veterans can do whatever they want in order to help out the rookies. They can teach them terminology, run through practices — at least six rookies practiced with the Patriots last week at Boston College — or help them with the playbook.
Is there a chance that Randy Moss could rejoin the Patriots?
Well, yeah, there’s a chance. But I would be absolutely stunned if they reunited with Moss, who was practically given away last season. It wouldn’t be about value, or a minimum contract loaded with incentives. There was something Moss brought to the team that Belichick didn’t like, and that’s why the receiver was exiled. The Moss supporters can pledge that he’ll perform better for the Patriots in 2011 because his NFL life will be at stake, but it was already on the line when he crashed and burned for three teams in 2010. There’s simply no need for the Patriots to go down that road again. They can tip their cap to Moss for his three-plus seasons of service and move on from there.