As we approach the meat of the 2014 offseason, this week’s mailbag focuses on free agency and the draft. Plus we check in on the status of a certain fan-favorite in New England.
Is New England a possible landing spot for free agent DE Jared Allen? — Dougie from Naples, FL
Short answer is yes. It is certainly a possibility, as it would be a good fit for both sides. The Patriots could use another pass rusher to compliment Chandler Jones and an aging Rob Ninkovich (30 years old). At 31, Allen has some years under his belt as well, but has shown no signs of slowing down. Just take a look at his sack totals during his six years in Minnesota: 14.5 in 2008, 14.5 in 2009, 11 in 2010, 22 in 2011, 12 in 2012, and 11.5 in 2013.
What position is most likely to be filled with the Pats’ first draft choice? — Tom from Boston
It’s never easy to predict a Bill Belichick draft strategy. Particularly since he has a tendency to draft the best player available as opposed to drafting positions of need. Plus there is the question of when they will be drafting. Will they trade up? Will they trade down? Will they stay put?
None of that is any fun though. So, to answer your question: defensive tackle. The Patriots need defensive tackle depth immediately, plus it would be a smart move in building for the future (Vince Wilfork is 32 and Tommy Kelly is 33).
Is there any reason for the Pats to draft Michael Sam? — Max from Boston
This was also asked in a mailbag a couple weeks ago, but it will continue to be a valid question until sometime between May 8 and May 10 (the draft). For now, I’ll revert back to the response I gave around the time Sam came out:
“Drafting Michael Sam may not make sense for anyone. That being said, the Patriots are more likely to take a flier on the young man than a lot of other organizations. The Patriots weren’t afraid to give Tim Tebow a shot because they were able to minimize the distractions brought on by the media. This could be a similar situation.
There is also a high likelihood that the Patriots are looking for a defensive end in the draft. Behind starters Chandler Jones and the aging Rob Ninkovich, there is not a whole lot of DE depth on the roster. It’s extremely difficult to predict draft picks, but I will say the Patriots have as good a shot as anyone of drafting Sam.”
Will Gronk return to his former self? — Ron from Denver
Recovery from a ligament tear is no joke. Adrian Peterson’s freakish recovery from a late-2011 ACL tear has skewed the perception these injuries. Since Rob Gronkowski tore his ACL and MCL in late-2013, a year-long recovery is certainly not out of the question. That would sideline him until at least midway through the 2014 campaign.
I wouldn’t expect Gronkowski to return to his former self for Week 1 next season, but the guy is a freak of nature in his own right. He’ll be back, just maybe not as soon as the Patriots hope.
Thanks to everyone for the emails. Tweet all your Patriots-related questions, comments, and stories to @cover32_NE or @TC_Howard. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.