ESPN’s Chris Mortensen joined Dale & Holley Wednesday afternoon to discuss the status of the Patriots as the offseason kicks into gear. Mortensen said the Patriots have to decide what to do with their plethora of early draft picks — specifically whether to use them to go after restricted free agents instead of in April’s draft. “The Patriots have what? Three second-round picks,” he said. “So maybe they can play that restricted free agent market a little more aggressively or just stick with the plan of building things through the draft. When you look at the Patriots, you see a lot more question marks than you normally see.”
One name in unrestricted free agency that has been linked to the Patriots is Julius Peppers. Mortensen called him “a dynamic player” but did say that many teams are unwilling to commit the kind of money he likely will get on the open market, a deal that Mortensen envisions will be similar to what Albert Haynesworth received from the Washington Redskins. Still, he does not believe the Patriots are going to be investing a lot of money on free agents. “Will they make a splash? I would say no,” Mortensen said. “And the other thing is there aren’t enough free agents on the market to make a splash, and that is why those restricted free agents are going to be interesting.”
Mortensen discussed the other big issue on the Patriots defensive line: the status of Vince Wilfork. With the Pittsburgh Steelers agreeing to a three-year, $21 million extension with their nose tackle, Casey Hampton, there is some belief that that will set a market for Wilfork. “The problem is that 2011 has so much uncertainty, you just don’t know what the rules are going to be,” Mortensen said concerning the Wilfork deal. “There is not a collective bargaining agreement — and right now we don’t think there is going to be one — if you are Vince Wilfork, do you take a deal like Hampton took and just say that is what it is?”
To listen to the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
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