FOXBORO -- Every Friday Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry will take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as they call it.
Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, have at the final Bag of 2016...
Can we name Scar the MVP? He has really turned this O-line around, especially with Cannon and Solder. #fridaybag— Pete🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@usafss74) December 29, 2016
MG: Pete, my friend, yes the Pats have changed some personnel up front, but Dante Scarnecchia’s addition was the move of the offseason. It was bigger than the trade for Bennett, the drafting of Thuney and Mitchell, or free agent signing of Chris Hogan. Scar’s as demanding as they come, but he’s always teaching. All those offensive linemen have taken a verbal beating from him over the course of the spring/summer/fall/winter, but all would tell you the words have a purpose, and there’s wisdom in all of it. Start with Marcus Cannon. He wasn’t in shape in either of the last two years. His technique was sloppy. He lacked confidence. In comes Scar, a Cannon fan from day one. He cleaned up the mess, but also made sure Cannon was accountable both to himself and his teammates. The result is undeniable. As for Solder, he’ll never tell you he didn’t like some of the techniques Dave DeGuilelmo employed so I will. That, plus health, has equaled a pretty damn good season for the left side, all with a tip of the chapeau to Dante.
do you think BB and McDaniels like Garoppolo enough to keep him?— Jimmy G's #1 fan (@BugattiGalaxy10) December 29, 2016
MG: Yes. Hell yes. But believing in him is probably not enough to keep Jimmy around. Tom Brady’s high level of play has pushed the timetable for his eventual departure via retirement or slippage. The Pats saw some of that a few years ago, which is why they spent the second-round pick on Garoppolo. His growth in this offense was on display those six quarters to start the season, but the Pats are also fond of Jacoby Brissett and if they can get a couple of high picks for the kid out of Eastern Illinois, he gone (as the kids say, I think).
what do u think the return would b for jimmy g— Shy Sullivan (@CheyenneSulli14) December 29, 2016
MG: Shy…the educated guesses of people from the four-letter network have people buzzing about a first and a fourth. As much as I think a franchise quarterback is worth that and then some, I’m here to tell you the Pats will be lucky to get a couple two’s for him. Why? Because GMs and coaches in this league lack the required intestinal fortitude to bet their future on a kid who’s got less than six real quarters of action under his belt. Easier to draft a kid in the third-round and say it will take a couple years to develop him. Buys them more time to craft their team/save their asses. For Garoppolo, I’m just hopeful he gets in a situation that is stable because I truly believe he has the ability to be a top-10 quarterback, maybe top-five.
MG: Miguel, doubling down on this question, which also appeared on Monday Night Patriots this past week. I don’t think Thuney moves outside. Kopek doesn’t think he has the length for it. I just think when you get a damn good left guard, you keep him right there. I am fairly certain the Pats will look to build depth/potentially find a left tackle of the future in this draft, but why can’t Solder continue to be a starting LT for this team in 2018? He’ll be 31 I believe, and remains a gifted and well-conditioned athlete. If he can maintain health and a good level of play, I think he’ll be protecting Brady’s blindside two years from now.
MG: Oh Jimmy, how we miss you at the shop…I think. Ummm, I believe I have made my cases for both Dak Prescott, who has saved a Cowboys season that could have hinged on Mark Sanchez, he of the butt fumble and 50-something completion percentage and Matt Ryan, who’s QB rating is like a million points higher than it’s ever been. Do I believe either one of those players is having a better 11 games than Tom Brady has had? Nope. But there’s the key element…11 games. Prescott and Ryan have been there for better or worse all season. Brady will be penalized by voters for his 4-game suspension, even if you believe it to be a witch hunt. Me personally, I’d vote for Prescott. He is incredibly poised, is playing in a football crazed market in Dallas and rebounded from his two weakest performances of the y ear by lighting up both Tampa and Detroit with a national TV audience dialed in. Done and done in my book.
PP: Believe he performed some kind of turkey call right before Thanksgiving. Came from out of nowhere and was surprisingly good.
how has michael Floyd come along through the weeks? Any upside in a couple TDs this weekend?— Christopher Doney (@cdones14) December 30, 2016
PP: It's going to come down to whether or not everything Floyd's doing in the facility -- he's been doing some extra work with Jacoby Brissett to better understand the offense -- and on the practice field can translate in a game situation. Brady said on Friday that Floyd has been working hard, and Belichick seems encouraged by the effort Floyd's put in as well. But let's face it: The majority of the 17 snaps Floyd saw against the Jets came when the game was already out of hand. Against the Dolphins he'll be facing a team with something to play for and they'll make him earn whatever production he comes away with. I'm not sure I see him scoring twice, Doney, but if you're a daily fantasy player, he might not be a bad option. He'll have his share of opportunities with Malcolm Mitchell likely out and Julian Edelman likely managed to a certain extent.
how are the supplements & treatments at TB12 Sports Therapy transforming the physique of @tomecurran ??— TJ Nixon (@NixSaysSo) December 30, 2016
PP: "Sneaky jacked" since June of 2015.
What, if anything, makes you nervous about Miami?— Chris Warner (@cwarn89) December 30, 2016
PP: It's not losing homefield advantage. It's not losing momentum. Both of those take a backseat to health, in my opinion. My biggest concern, if I'm the Patriots, would be leaving this weekend's game with an injury to a key player. Edelman taking a shot up high over the middle? Concerning. Hightower absorbing his second chop block in less than a month? That's a concern. Brady getting driven into the ground, stepped on, etc.? Concern on concern on concern. That last one is the big one, obviously. The Patriots have to make sure they keep Brady away from Ndamukong Suh at all costs.
Who might the Pats target for futures contracts #FridayBag— Scott Wands (@magicwands1978) December 30, 2016
PP: Thanks for checking in, Scott. For anyone who may be unaware, future contracts can be used to sign players not on active rosters when the season ends. Those contracts will then take effect on the first day of the new league year in 2017. Typically teams use future contracts to hold onto practice-squad players they developed an affinity for during the season. I'd say offensive linemen Chris Barker, Jamil Douglas and Chase Farris, linebacker Trevor Bates, receivers Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White, running back Tyler Gaffney, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, and defensive linemen Woodrow Hamilton and Darius Kilgo all will be in the mix for future deals with the Patriots. Many of those players have been on the team's practice squad for much of the season if not the entire season. I'm not aware of any Dion Lewis types out there -- Lewis signed a future deal with the Patriots before last season -- if that's what you're wondering.
which player do you think has improved from last season to this season?— Mike 8-2 🤫 (@Patriots1121) December 30, 2016
PP: Lots have improved, Mike, but I'm not sure there's been a player who has improved more than Marcus Cannon. He's lost weight, he's quicker, he's using his hands better, and he's been as consistent as any lineman the Patriots have. Dante Scarnecchia has something to do with his transformation, but you have to give credit where it's due: Cannon has been great. The extension he signed was well-deserved.
what is more likely... Amendola has a great playoff run or Floyd?— Boston (@BostonXpat) December 30, 2016
PP: I think it's Amendola simply because he already has an established level of trust with Brady that we're not sure Floyd will be able achieve. Floyd's healthier. And he's physically more imposing. I just think the Amendola faith factor will lend to him making plays on third down and in the red zone whenever he comes back healthy. I think we'll be able to get an idea of the number of opportunities Floyd will see in the postseason by judging his performance this weekend in Miami. Will Brady be doing the same?
PP: An interview? Generally, in our business, you don't accept anything from players. I imagine there are those who will say there are exceptions to the rule, but I haven't run into any.
any word of Scarnecchia's plan for next year?Hoping he can give us a few more years,night & day difference w/ scar at the reins— Bob Camp (@Bob_Camp_) December 30, 2016
PP: Not aware of any future plans for Scarnecchia just yet, Bob. If he decides he'd like to go back to retirement after this season, the Patriots could turn to coaching assistant Cole Popovich to take over as the offensive line coach. He's been working closely with the line since joining the team late last season. Popovich played at Fresno State under Belichick confidant Pat Hill and was a college teammate of former Patriots lineman Ryan Wendell.
how much do pats show dolphins knowing they could see them in the playoffs. (2010 jets)— Joe Connolly (@JBConnolly4) December 30, 2016
PP: I think the plan may look a little different based on how players' snaps are managed, but I'm not sure how "vanilla" the Patriots can be at this point. Most of what they do is on film. There's a wide variety of what they can do, especially offensively, but it's not all that secretive. Now that doesn't mean I think they'll be breaking out any double-pass looks in Miami, but they kind of are what they are at this point. Not a whole lot to hide.
what has been the defining moment for this seasons pats team?— Matt Perkins (@Coach_Perkins) December 30, 2016
PP: I think it could end up being the Devin McCourty hit on Demaryius Thomas. Fourth quarter. Fourth down. In Denver. In some ways it signaled that the defense was good enough to win a game in a difficult environment. The play also carried with it an edge that has characterized the play of the Patriots defense lately. If they go on to win Lombardi No. 5, people will remember that play as one of several "defining moments."
free agents the pats should be looking at for next year?— Joe Connolly (@JBConnolly4) December 30, 2016
PP: How about Dontari Poe? Freak athlete. Plenty of size to play defensive tackle in New England. Goal line weapon . . . kind of? He's had kind of a so-so year, meaning his price tag might be manageable. Alan Branch doesn't look like he's slowing down any time soon, but he's 32, in a contract year, and may find greener pastures elsewhere. A three-man rotation of Poe, Malcom Brown and Vincent Valentine on the interior might look pretty good to Belichick and Nick Caserio.
which player on the current roster will be first to get a new contract? Will that contract be from the Pats or some other team?— Jeff with a G (@NCpatsfan2) December 30, 2016
PP: Dont'a Hightower. Malcolm Butler a close second. It's my belief that both will remain with the Patriots.
who is your dark horse for significant contributions in the playoffs?— Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform) December 30, 2016
PP: Jonathan Jones. Has been one of the team's best players in the kicking game all year, and he's starting to see a little more time defensively. I think we could see him come up with one big play in the postseason that will leave people saying, "Wait, who?"
Who are the greatest niche players in the Belichick era?— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) December 30, 2016
PP: This question deserves its own blog, Daniel, and maybe its own summertime slide-show series from Tom E. Curran. Consider it submitted for future consideration.
PP: The franchise tag for tight ends this year was valued at just over $9 million, Mr. Q. And that number should rise if and when the salary cap sees a bump. That kind of cake may be a bit too much for the Patriots since Rob Gronkowski's contract has a value of $9 million per year. I've been saying for months that, to me, the best comparison when looking at potential deals for Bennett is the one Greg Olsen signed with the Panthers. He signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension with $12 million guaranteed and an average annual value of $7.5 million during the 2015 offseason, just before his 30th birthday. Bennett will turn 30 in March.