FOXBORO, Mass. — One preseason game down, three to go. The Patriots are exactly one month shy of their Monday night opener in Miami. There are plenty of questions surrounding the team, and I've answered a few of them in this week's mailbag.
What do you think Brian Hoyer's trade value is at this point? What is he worth?
–@TonySantorsa, via Twitter
I really like Hoyer, and I am positive he'll have an opportunity to start somewhere in the league. At this point, I don't think his trade value is extremely high because training camp is two weeks old and teams don't want to restructure their offense around a young quarterback without any starting experience. Now, if a starting quarterback goes down in the preseason, Hoyer could be on the short list of coveted quarterbacks on the trade market. Right now, though, I'd be surprised if the Patriots could get anything more than a fourth-round pick for him, mostly due to the shortened training camp situation.
Hoyer will be a restricted free agent after the 2011 season. The best-case scenario for the Patriots would be to see Ryan Mallett continue to develop as a strong backup and then potentially work out a sign-and-trade with Hoyer. If Hoyer continues to have a good preseason, he could elevate his stock to a second-round level in terms of trade compensation.
Hey! I was wondering why the Patriots didn't make a bit of a push for Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw. He seemed to be sitting around for ages, and then this seemed weirder when they only signed Green-Ellis to a one-year deal. The Pats can't be that confident in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen yet, can they?
The Patriots don't need any more help at running back. As it is, they've got six guys for, presumably, five spots. They certainly didn't spend a second-round pick on Shane Vereen and a third-rounder on Stevan Ridley to simply cut them a few months later. They also aren't parting ways with BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Danny Woodhead. And the final spot will come down to Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris. There's just no way Bill Belichick would release Faulk in favor of Bradshaw, who isn't thrilled to share carries with one player, let alone four.
Green-Ellis was a restricted free agent who simply signed his one-year tender. Of course, the two sides could have tried to reach a long-term extension, but the Patriots appeared to be comfortable with waiting until next offseason because it will give them a chance to assess Vereen and Ridley.
Ridley has looked great in practice, and he validated it Thursday against the Jaguars. Vereen should be a very good player, too, but he has only practiced twice — missing the first seven during contract negotiations and the last six with a hamstring injury.
I was wondering what your opinion was on backups if Albert Hayneworth works out next to Vince Wilfork in a 4-3. Who looks good at practice to give them a breather?
Kyle Love has had a pretty good camp, and he played well against the Jaguars. I'm still waiting to see what Myron Pryor has after working through an injury in camp. The same can be said about Ron Brace, who hasn't even been in uniform yet. Mike Wright, Gerard Warren and Shaun Ellis will both play inside in four-man fronts, and that could give the Patriots five very dependable veterans on the inside of the line.
Will Nate Solder start any games this season?
–@Teala, via Twitter
The Patriots hope not. They gave Matt Light a two-year contract for a reason, and that's to have him on the field to protect Tom Brady's blind side. Solder has looked pretty good in the very limited work he's been given since signing his contract last week, but the Patriots weren't being charitable with Light. They want him out there, and they must feel like he's healthy enough to get on the field in time for the regular season.
Solder appears to have a bright future, though, and I'd expect him to start at left tackle in 2012.
Pick two to stick: Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, Buddy Farnham. And tell us why.
–@SkinlessJSN, via Twitter
Price will definitely make the team, and Tate will really have to be unimpressive over the next few weeks to slip off the roster. Farnham had a good showing Thursday night, and he's able to hold his own against other second- and third-stringers in practices. But he looks outmatched against starters who are bigger and faster. Farnham needs more time to develop on a practice squad.
Based on our performance yesterday, do you think we need more depth at any position?
I'd be mildly concerned about two areas. First of all, I haven't seen Brandon Meriweather take a jump to a higher level yet this season, so the coaching staff has to be a little curious about that. It was definitely a big indication of that when the Patriots reportedly courted safety Dashon Goldson last weekend. Patrick Chung has been very good, and James Sanders will be reliable once he shakes his hamstring injury. And Sergio Brown has also played well as the fourth safety, so there are options, but the Patriots' defense will be a much better unit if Meriweather can return to his 2009 form.
After that, I'm curious about the depth at 4-3 outside linebacker. The Patriots can use Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton as the outside starters in 4-3 sets, with Brandon Spikes as the middle linebacker. But if Mayo or Guyton are injured, the Patriots might have to sub in Rob Ninkovich or Dane Fletcher, who aren't natural 4-3 outside linebackers. It could lead the Patriots to play a 4-2-5 base if they lose Mayo or Guyton.