The Patriots: 2012 vs. 2007

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The Patriots: 2012 vs. 2007

The Pats are barely a week into Training Camp and we're already running short on drama. And that's a good thing. It's a sign that, unlike another team in this twon, the Pats have their act together.

Will Welker ever get a deal? Will Brian Waters report? How did Jonathan Kraft do in his fantasy draft? And that's about it. Everything else is Xs and Os; straight football. And that's beautiful.

It's also a little boring. So, we've created a few distractions.

For instance: Can this Patriots team go undefeated?

I think so. Why not, right? If everyone's healthy (and that's what it would take), the Pats will be favored in at least 15 of 16 games this year. The only straggler is Week 3 in Baltimore, but even if the Pats are two or three-point underdogs, it's anyone's game.

Sure, they can go undefeated. Of course, there's a better chance you see Bill Belichick show up to a press conference wearing a yellow tank top and an eye patch, but it's still possible. (I'll say 14-2, with losses at Baltimore and Seattle.)

Another aspect of the undefeated conversation is a straight comparison:

2007 offense vs. 2012 offense: Who you got?

It's hard to answer right now, when we haven't seen exactly what 2012 can do. But the argument can be made that this year's squad will be just as imposing as their predecessors. The 2007 team had no one like Gronk. And there's a good chance that Stevan Ridley develops into a bigger threat than Lawrence Maroney. With Gronk, Hernandez and Welker keeping the defense occupied on the inside, Brandon Lloyd and Jabar GaffneyDonte' Stallworth will be waiting over the top. They're going to be unstoppable.

In reality, choosing between the 2007 and 2012 Patriots offense is like choosing between Kate Upton and Bar Raefali. You can't go wrong. But here's one major reason I'm leaning towards 2007.

Randy Moss.

I've heard a few people say that Lloyd is the closest thing the Pats have had to Moss, and I think that's true. But come on: Randy Moss caught 23 touchdowns in 2007. Brandon Lloyd has caught 23 touchdowns since 2005. He may be the closest thing, but that doesn't mean he's that close.

I know that's an obvious point. I'm not suggesting that people actually believe Lloyd is in 2007 Randy Moss's league. But I think it's sometimes easy to forget how devastating that Brady-to-Moss combination was. I know Brady has his thing with Gronk. And Welker. And that he'll hopefully build something special with Lloyd. But nothing compares to what he and Moss did to NFL defenses. That's where 2007 has the edge.

Last thing: How funny would it be if someone asked Belichick about this at his next press conference? "Yeah, coach. I'm wondering, if you had to win one game, and could choose between this year's offense and 2007's: Who would you pick, and why?"

I imagine the answer would sound something like this:

" . . . ."

At which point, the reporter would be escorted out of the building and tossed into a dumpster.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.