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Where Do the Patriots Go Now?

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a word about former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor

Before anybody starts hyperventilating over the prospect of Taylor becoming the latest off-season acquisition by the Patriots, let’s take a step back and consider a few important things. The most glaring fact about Taylor is his age; he’s 33 years old. To put this into perspective, how much gas do we think New England’s resident gray-beard, Kevin Faulk, has left in his tank? As invaluable Faulk has been for the Patriots, he will be 33 on opening day 2009. Sammy Morris, who’s been the most consistent rusher for the Patriots lately, will be 32 in a month.

Do the Patriots really need another part-time running back? Can their future success afford another season relying upon backs that are in the twilight of their careers? If Fred Taylor, for all the impressive things he’s done in a Jaguars uniform, is the answer…are we asking the right question?

Perhaps Taylor fits the bill for a year. Perhaps the Patriots need to milk one more season out of the older guys (and Lawrence Maroney if he decides to actually play) due to other roster needs (especially on defense). However, let’s be honest. There is no position in football more unforgiving than running back and the NFL is a laboratory that specializes in pulverizing the human body. If any team has an indication of how much Fred Taylor still has left to give it would be his employer of 11 years, the Jaguars, and they essentially said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Buyer Beware.

My Biggest Fear as Draft Day Approaches

That Bill Belichick uses yet another high draft pick on a tight end. TE Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma State is slated to go late in the first round and most likely will be around when the Patriots pick at 23. He is without question the best tight end in the draft this year and has monstrous size (6-6, 260), but his speed (4.8) isn’t anything worth getting excited over and as we’ve discussed the last few weeks, there are serious needs on defense that need to be addressed. Still, it scares me that Belichick could be enamored again by a “can’t miss” TE and blow yet another important draft pick on that position.

It appears as though the wisest selection at 23 would be that of a linebacker or cornerback. There will most likely be two pure LBs (James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, Clay Matthews Jr., USC) at that spot along with a converted 4-3 DE (Everette Brown, FSU). Ohio State has a poor record of producing quality NFL LBs (anybody remember Andy Katzenmoyer?) so that might swing the pendulum in favor of Matthews. Also, it is worth noting that Clay Matthews Sr. played for Bill Belichick in Cleveland back in the early 1990s.

The one “reach” I see for the Patriots in the first round is at cornerback. Sean Smith (6-3, 214) from Utah will probably still be available and it’s no secret the Patriots are in dire need of help in the secondary. He’d represent a departure from the puzzling practice of Belichick acquiring smaller corners, but if for some crazy reason one, two, or all three of the possible LBs are gone by 23 look for Smith to be selected.

Fortunately for the Patriots, this is considered a “deep” draft and even if they strike out on their first round pick, they still have selections at 47 and 58 of the second round. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised if New England wheels and deals itself into more…or less picks. I’m still curious if Detroit will deal its 20th and 33rd picks for Matt Cassel and the Pats’ 47th pick. If this were to transpire, it would be conceivable that the Patriots could select three of those four players. Imagine that.

Division Rival Most Likely to Give the Patriots Fits in 2009

At this point, I have to anoint the Miami Dolphins as the official “thorn in the side” of New England, for three reasons. First, there’s the stability in the front office and on the coaching staff (not to mention the quality of both). Second, Chad Pennington is the second-best QB in the division (and he might be the best if Brady isn’t ready and Cassel is traded). Third, the Jets have far too many holes right now and the Bills are still playing JV ball.

Answer to last week’s question:

Ron Wooten

Question of the week:

Was Patriots’ wide receiver Darryl Stingley critically injured by the Raiders’ Jack Tatum in a regular season game, the playoffs, or in the pre-season?

(Answer will be provided next week)


  1. Belichick and the Pats strive on taking seasoned veterans and getting the best out of them. Their leadership and maturity is something Bill really appreciates. Look at Corey Dillon, Junior Seau and Randy Moss. All of these players at the time were thought of as being in their sunset days and they all went on to great years with the Pats. As a Pats fan I would really enjoy seeing Taylor play in NE.

  2. Darren,

    Corey Dillon retired at age 32 after three seasons with the Patriots.

    Taylor is 33.

    Maybe he works out well for one year, but then again maybe it'd be better to give the roster spot to a young RB who has the chance to give more than just one season.

  3. Understand that Belichick isn't married to any "one" running back....ever! Not during a season, not at the beginning of a season, not during contract negotiations...never! So Taylor will come in with something to prove for a year or two, give it hell and then the Pats will move on to another. Though they will have to move on from one of the 4 they have prior to Taylor, they will also let another go next year be it Taylor or another. Coach doesn't seem to be married to anyone........Vrabel the latest?

  4. So with Taylor, Maroney, Morris, Jordan, Faulk, and that rookie from last year who is listed where on the depth chart, never mind Evans and whoever else at fullback? What's going on with Izzo, and what other Patriots players might be connected with him?

  5. Great comments, fellas.

    I've heard that Jordan is history.

    Hopefully BenJarvis Green-Ellis is given another crack this year. He showed promise in '08.

    Vrabel is a shocker. One of the best Patriots ever. Having said that, after chewing on it for a day, it makes sense. He'll be 34 on opening day and last year he showed signs of fading into mediocrity.

    He is one candidate that I believe belongs in the Patriots' Hall of Fame.

    Not sure what's happening with Izzo. There isn't much information leaking out about him.