44 lines about 22 Patriots issues

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44 lines about 22 Patriots issues

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran Forty-four lines about 22 Patriots issues . . .
Jets week. On Wednesday, we have 'Patriots Wednesday Live' from Gillette Stadium (tune into Comcast SportsNet at noon for that), Rex Ryan and Plaxico Burress for conference calls and Belichick, Brady, et. al. Jerod Mayo is out for this week's Quick Slants (knee). We'll be replacing him with my friend Bob Glauber from Newsday -- and, yes, this is a change from a previous version of this story, when the original plan was to talk to Adam Schien from SIRIUS NFL Radio and SNY in New York -- as we break down Pats-Jets. Nobody wants to hear about travel inconveniences from media members because every reader knows our companies pay for room, board and airfare so we can attend professional sporting events in exotic places (or in Oakland). So I refrain from sharingand - honestly - don't have many gripes. Allow me one airplane gripe? The guy in the seat behind you who is so plump hecan only hoist himself upright by putting his hands on the top of your seat and pulling with all his chubby might, thereby bending your seat halfway to the floor. Facinating roll call of quarterbacks coming up for the Patriots over the next few weeks. They will see Sanchez, Romo, Roethlisberger, Eli, Sanchez, Cassel and Vick between now and the start of December, so quarterback mobility will be a big issue in every game except the one against the Giants. That reality makes this Tuesday quote from defensive line coach Pepper Johnson very concerning: "Im a little more than satisfied with the play of the defensive line. Im sure the question is spawned from the stats, but Im watching how guys are doing what were asking them to do. Were actually hitting the quarterback a couple times were late but were actually hitting the quarterback. Its just not coming up with the sack." The Patriots' pass rush isn't quick enough to hit and impact landlocked quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Ryan Fitzpatrick and fairly stationary guys like Jason Campbell and Chad Henne, yet Johnson's more than a little satisfied? Good luck against guys who are actually elusive andor hard to bring down like the next set of quarterbacks they'll face. So far, Albert Haynesworth has played 54 of the Patriots' 265 defensive snaps this season (thanks, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston who logs plays and has everyone else steal the info). Haynesworth's due to make a base salary of 1.5 million and will collect a 1 million bonus if he plays in 20 percent of the plays - right now, he's at 20.3 percent. If the Jets are going to attempt to run the ball down the Patriots' gullet on Sunday - as Rex Ryan indicated they might - Haynesworth will be sorely needed. Personally, I'm surprised a non-contact injury that flared up has kept him out for two games. Business being business, there's no doubt the Krafts are rubbing their temples over cash handed to newold guys. Chad Ochocinco is collecting 6 million this year in salary (1 million) and bonuses (5 million); Shaun Ellis is collecting 4 million, Andre Carter is taking in 2.25; Mark Anderson's bringing in 1.375. That's about 16 million dished out to four defensive linemen who've generated 2.5 sacks and a wideout who chipped in seven receptions. That would bug me if I were writing the checks. Meanwhile, Wes Welker is bringing in about 2.5 million in the final year of his contract. That would bug me if I were cashing that check (if I were Wes Welker, that is . . . because if I, little Tommy Curran were cashing that check, I would not be bugged). Sometimes I wonder if Tom Brady is trying to make a greater point with all his throws to Welker. A point that says, "This is the guy you haven't re-signed and are making play without an injury safety net, and that's something that I object to." Ochocinco hasn't spoken to the media as a group since before the season opener. He's gotten agitated with me for asking him to speak; so agitated, in fact, my efforts to get him to fulfill that part of his job are done for a while. Seemsmostof the media iswilling to allow Ocho room in exchange for promises that he'll be the best interview we've had once he gets this offense down. He's a funny and fascinating guy but, man, asking us for that kind of tradeoff - and then being accomodated! - is troubling on a couple of levels. Ocho had been limited to two catches or less 10 times since 2002. He's been at two or less in each game this season for the Patriots. The Patriots have 8.3 million of cap room currently. Our buddy Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has all the numbers. Loneliest feeling in the world? Being a Raiders fan and driving home in your makeup and spiked shoulder pads after a loss. Shaun Ellis did not look good trying to chase down Jacoby Ford on that reverse against the Raiders. Zombie-like (Shaun of the Dead). Please select one: Indy's quarterback Curtis Painter looks like a) Sam Kinison; b) Amy Poehler; c) Kurt Cobain. For a guy who was supposed to be the fastest linebacker in the 2008 draft class (4.47 at the NFL Combine), Gary Guyton sure does run slowly. Yes he does. Since Rex Ryan's been in New York, the Patriots are 2-2 with Wes Welker active. In those four games, these are the catches and yards he's rolled up: 15 for 192 (W), 6 for 38 (L), 7 for 80 (W), 7 for 57 (L) - suffice to say, once burned by Wes was all it took.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track. 

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.