Patriots Mailbag: Randy Moss-to-Patriots Rumors Don’t Carry Much Weight, Brian Waters Should Be Big Addition


Patriots Mailbag: Randy Moss-to-Patriots Rumors Don't Carry Much Weight, Brian Waters Should Be Big Addition FOXBORO, Mass. — I’m glad to see everyone stepped up their game in time for the regular season. There were a couple dozen really solid questions, and I tried to get to as many as possible.

Thank you to everyone who participated. Make sure to come back next week for another session.

Are you hearing anything in regards to the Randy Moss rumors of him re-signing?
–@PatriotsFansUtd, via Twitter

There really aren’t any rumors of Moss reuniting with the Patriots. Truly, all that happened this week was that someone close to Moss told a reporter he’d be interested in returning to the Patriots if they wanted him. Then, Tom Brady said nice things about his friend.

Not trying to be snide to the storyline, but I’m pretty sure Joe Montana would also be interested in signing with the Patriots as a third-string quarterback if they offered him $10 million to go hang out at Gillette Stadium.

If the Patriots were truly interested in Moss, it would have happened already. They gave him away for a third-round pick last year — just told him to up and leave a day after the team’s biggest victory in at least two seasons. Remember how much the Patriots were criticized — here, included — for only taking a third-rounder for Moss? Now, it looks like a tremendous steal. Why? Because Brady was better without Moss, statistically and through the eye test.

Sure, I think Moss has been humbled by the events of the last year. But no, I don’t think he’d be ready to return on the Patriots’ terms. For him to be effective, he has to be a major part of the offense, and that ship has sailed on his career. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would want to return on his terms, not the team’s.

That’s why I don’t think the Patriots would have any interest in bringing him back.

With all the new additions this offseason, which player or players do you think will outplay their expectations? Me personally, I think Andre Carter is going to have a great year. He’s the type of player who’s versatile and can play in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. I also expect Chad Ochocinco to not live up to his expectations. I think he’s a good receiver, but too much is expected from him, and all this added pressure will cause in a lack of performance. Your thoughts?
–Bruce Serenity Roberts

I’ll go with guard Brian Waters for the first question. He should add some real attitude to the offensive line, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to take over at right guard at some point this season.

As for Ochocinco, I’ve said all along that he’ll probably only need 60-70 receptions to make a legitimate impact on the offense. After all, Brandon Tate only had 13 catches during the final 12 games of 2010, so just about anyone would have been an upgrade as the third wide receiver option. Ochocinco will be fine. The same people who have told me about his playbook issues have also said they expect him to get it all figured out by the time it counts.

Was Brandon Meriweather released because, with the new defense, Belichick needs “safe” safeties, and he could not trust Big Bang to play it safe when needed?
–@IceColdPucks, via Twitter

Yes and no. First, I think Belichick had tired of Meriweather’s unpredictability and lack of discipline on the field, and that led to his undoing. But that’s not an all-encompassing thing with the Patriots’ defense. Remember, James Sanders was about as consistent as could be back there. So, the release of Meriweather had to do with Meriweather and not the defense.

Hi Jeff, just a quick question regarding the tight end situation. All reports from camp seemed to suggest that the two rookies, Will Yeatman in particular, were doing well and at least one looked like they’d make the roster. Why were they both waived only to pick up Dan Gronkowski who only came to the Patriots by luck more than judgment after he was waived by the Broncos?
–Damian Moran

Fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith was the early favorite to be the third tight end on the roster, but he didn’t play particularly impressive in his preseason chances. Yeatman got a ton of opportunities, but he’s a raw talent who needed time to develop. I don’t know if the Patriots would have been comfortable keeping him on the active roster this season.

I think Belichick gambled and lost with the tight ends, hoping one or both would clear waivers and land on the practice squad. But Belichick said something interesting Monday, noting if the coaching staff liked a player enough to keep him on the active roster, the player would never hit waivers in the first place. That’s an indication of Belichick’s feelings on Smith and Yeatman.

Could he turn out to be wrong? Absolutely. More than anything, I think it shows that Belichick was comfortable with guys like Gronkowski, who were on the waiver wire and had a comparable talent to the two rookies. If nothing else, Gronkowski at least has some NFL experience, which is more than both Smith and Yeatman can say.

One last thing: It could be a while before we know the answer to this, but the Patriots could still be positioning themselves to reunite with Alge Crumpler once his shoulder heals. If that happens, Smith or Yeatman would have hit the waiver wire eventually anyway, and the outcome probably would have been similar.

Who fits the Pats for the future at running back, Shane Vereen or Stevan Ridley?
–Frank Pozzi

Why not both? Belichick hasn’t relied on one feature back since Corey Dillon suffered an injury in 2005, which had a serious impact on the Patriots’ roster. After that, the Patriots went with Dillon and Laurence Maroney, and it’s been a multi-back system since.

Vereen is fast and elusive, but he hasn’t been on the field enough to show his true makeup. Ridley has shown an impressive amount of power in the running game. They complement each other nicely, much like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead did in 2010.

I hope Sebastian Vollmer is a go in Miami on Monday night. If Nate Solder start at right tackle, will they bring an extra offensive lineman off the practice squad?
–@celticsfan2584, via Twitter

Vollmer’s status is very much uncertain right now, and if he can’t play against the Dolphins, the Patriots definitely have to add another tackle because they can’t go into a game with just two. If that happens, I think Thomas Welch would be the first tackle from the practice squad to join the active roster. When players don’t make the road trip in the regular season, the Patriots usually announce that they won’t play after their flight arrives. If that’s the case, you might hear the news about Vollmer on Sunday night.

Assuming Pats are waiting until after Week 1 to sign veterans to non-guaranteed contracts, who are they most likely targeting?
–@Dan_Mullen, via Twitter

I think you’re looking at some players who you’re already familiar with. I already mentioned Crumpler, though his shoulder would be more of an issue than a guaranteed contract. After that, I think there’s a high probability that Gerard Warren returns at some point, whether it’s next week or after the Patriots’ first injury on the defensive line. Running back Sammy Morris could be another option if the Patriots lose a player before Kevin Faulk is able to return.

If Brady vanishes for a week, who would you start at quarterback?
–@Tom_Leak, via Twitter

Do you remember when Brady got into a minor car accident last year? It seemed like every news outlet in New England covered the Patriots’ practice that day. There was even a news helicopter shooting video of the practice just to see if Brady was there. So I love how you nonchalantly dropped that one on me. I mean, if Brady just up and vanished someday, I think every man, woman, child and Golden Retriever in New England would be out searching for him.

But anyway, I’d start Brian Hoyer. He’s much more confident in himself and the system right now, and he’d give the Patriots a better chance to win a game in 2011 than rookie Ryan Mallett.

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