<
>

Would Patriots consider signing suddenly available NaVorro Bowman?

NaVorro Bowman is likely to draw a lot of interest after being released by the 49ers on Friday. AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Every Saturday, some of the hot topics surrounding the New England Patriots are explored.



Jason, this was easily the most frequently asked question this week after the 49ers released linebacker NaVorro Bowman on Friday. This is one of those situations where there are probably 31 other teams that have some level of interest, and it's going to be more about Bowman's mindset and desires than anything else. Assuming good health, he fits any system and would make any team better the day he signs, even if he isn't playing every down (the 49ers began reducing his snaps last week). One question the Patriots would probably be asking: How much of an upgrade would he be over David Harris?



Omar, it's too early to make that call after just five games. LeGarrette Blount didn't finish strong in Super Bowl LI, and it's possible he might be having some of the same challenges in New England with some inconsistent offensive line play. But one thing I would say is that Blount seemed to have an infectious style of play that galvanized some of his teammates, with his playoff run against the Steelers in which he carried six or seven defenders on his back a prime example. We haven't seen that manifest itself with another Patriots running back in 2017 to this point.



I don't think this is the week to give up on Mike Gillislee in fantasy football. The Jets have had some struggles defending the run, and as Bill Belichick said, Gillislee has been close to breaking one. While fantasy football advice isn't my forte, I'd give it one more week and then assess next week.



Daniel, one thing we could see is an even greater commitment to run the ball, but a lot of that will be contingent to how the game unfolds. There hasn't been a game this season in which the offensive line has been able to consistently fire off the ball with a run-based approach, and given the Jets' struggles against the run this year, it wouldn't be a surprise if that's a bigger part of the plan this week. One thing I would add: While the overall offensive line play has been inconsistent, that is not the only reason for some of the hits Tom Brady has taken. There have been plenty of times that Brady has been well protected and pressure has still gotten to him because receivers haven't uncovered, Brady has missed an open target or something else. It's not all on the line.



Steve, with cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) out for Sunday's game and only one other player on the injury report (RB Rex Burkhead, ribs, questionable), the Patriots will have at least five healthy scratches. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter had reported that the Patriots expect Burkhead to be available, so that would mean six other players must be declared inactive. Two offensive linemen will likely be part of that group (Cole Croston, LaAdrian Waddle), as well as linebacker/defensive end Harvey Langi and linebacker David Harris. While I think the Patriots could use defensive tackle Alan Branch in this game, I'd put him on the list for now. That's a tough call. Receiver Phillip Dorsett might be the logical choice for the final spot in this scenario because he doesn't have the same special-teams value as others like Geneo Grissom and Jordan Richards.



Marty, the Patriots have had quite a bit of practice squad movement this year, so there are no certainties with any promotions. If Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister all remain healthy, it will be tough for him to break through. But his presence on the practice squad provides an in-house layer of insurance in the event of injury. One thing to keep an eye on: A couple of other teams were interested but had some level of concern with a foot injury, which contributed to him being available to the Patriots. How that affects Will Tye in practice could be a factor in the team's personnel evaluation.


Shimon, Gronkowski now has 6,338 receiving yards from Brady, eclipsing Welker's mark of 6,300. Welker played 93 games for the Patriots, and if we take out the 2008 season from when Brady was injured (16 games), it puts Welker at 77 games with Brady. Gronkowski entered this season having played 88 games (86 with Brady). Add in the four from this year and it's 90 games.