Curran: Mayo gives insider's perspective to Patriots' issues

Curran: Mayo gives insider's perspective to Patriots' issues

It’s a weird year in Foxboro and no amount of nothing-to-see-here, whistling-past-the-graveyard is going to alter that feeling.

Eye-widening personnel moves before the season (Chandler Jones traded and Dominique Easley cut) and during the season (Jamie Collins trade). Good players playing bad (Collins and Sheard). Suspensions (Tom Brady, Rob Ninkovich and Alan Branch). Business uncertainty linked to expiring contracts (Collins, Sheard, Donta Hightower, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Martellus Bennett). 

Quarterback speculation. Coordinators in line for head coaching jobs. Defensive players being yo-yoed in and out of the lineup. Even the damn presidential election. It’s distraction central down there.

Some of it self-inflicted. Some of it is probably unavoidable. But it’s all uncharacteristic. And, following a 2-4 close to the 2015 regular season that was brought on by injuries, there’s apprehension that these little waves of strange are going to eventually tip this season.

What the hell’s going on down there? Longtime Patriots captain Jerod Mayo sat in on Quick Slants The Podcast on Monday night and gave loads of insight on leadership (Mayo was a captain from 2009 to 2015), Bill Belichick’s approach and aspirations and how players deal with the high expectations in New England.

On players not performing well in contract years

“Sometimes people feel like (the lack of an extension) is a slap in your face. ‘The coaches let me go out here and play a year where I could get hurt after I just gave them four years at a discounted rate?’ I can see both sides of the fence now (on contract years) and it’s hard to do. And that’s why they have insurance policies now where you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in loss of value insurance in case something does happen.”

On work ethic

“I had to work hard, super hard to make it to the league. Everyone takes different paths, everyone works hard. But you have certain athletes or players where it’s so natural. They’re natural athleticism they could play professional football, professional basketball whatever. So you could have this special player who’s naturally gifted, head and shoulders above everyone else. Sometimes you have these guys who don’t have to work out. They don’t have to study the extra film. They don’t have to do these certain things. But to get to the league in the first place you get by on natural ability. So now you have younger players coming up through the ranks who look and say, ‘Man. This guy doesn’t work out, this guy doesn’t (take extra steps).’ But they NEED to work out. They’re not cut from the same cloth or their pedigree isn’t as athletic as these guys.”

On social media

“That killed me in my latter years. I don’t really get into social media. I don’t send out tweets or things like that, but that was the things  and the camaraderie kinda changed because guys would run to the locker room and check their phone. But when it became a problem was when a guy would come in the locker room and he was down and out, moping around and you say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ ‘Well, someone tweeted this?’ And I’d be like, ‘How do you let Joe Blow, sitting on his couch, affect your entire day?’ It’s a different era.”

On leadership

“I remember in 2009 during preseason I was the only captain and Bill was talking about leadership, leadership, leadership. Then the players brought it up and the media was like, ‘Well maybe there is a leadership problem.’ This is nothing new. When things aren’t going well, you start to question the leadership.

“Leadership is a funny thing. You have 100 percent here, that’s the team. You have 10 percent here, who are good leaders. And there’s 10 percent who are bad leaders. And your job as a leader is to grab as many of the 80 percent left as possible.

“This is why New England always wins. They have more people heading in the right direction. I took 12 visits pre-Combine. I remember coming in the parking lot here and knowing this was a different place. There were minvans, pickup trucks, all this stuff. It was all about football. I remember taking a visit to Washington and some other places and you look out in the parking lot and it’s Lamborghinis – there’s nothing wrong with buying something nice – but you could tell is was more of a me, me, me type of atmosphere when you go to a Detroit or Washington.”

On Belichick’s approach

“(You get guys to follow positive leaders by) winning games. Guys love winning games. To win games, even against a San Francisco 49ers team that’s terrible, is still hard to do. If you love to play football and you don’t always need that pat on the back? Then you’re gonna be one of Bill’s guys.

“I remember in the cafeteria during training camp after a practice where he made some plays and he said, “Why doesn’t Bill say anything to me when I make a good play?’ I said honestly, if you’re doing your job he’s not going to say all the time, ‘Good job doing what you’re supposed to do.’ So if you need someone to pat you on the back every five seconds and say good job, this isn’t the place for you.

“Now as far as Bill being out of touch with the locker room, Bill has never been the type of guy to just hang out in the locker room. There is a hierarchy there which I could always appreciate: ‘This is my coach, I would always treat a coach with the utmost respect.’ That’s just how I was raised. Everyone’s not raised the same way especially through the football ranks and the sporting ranks. Bill is from the old-school mentality where it’s a coach-player relationship. Bill would have these captains meeting sometime during the week or on a Friday. He would tell us the message, give us the message and it was our job to translate that message to the players who really wouldn’t be able to understand it coming from Bill.”

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

File Photo

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

There's one gigantic hole to fill on the Patriots offensive line.

Replacing Nate Solder is no easy task and it's not exactly clear how the Pats will yet.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was first to report the Patriots would like to bring back Waddle or Fleming.

It now appears that one of the former backup tackle is taking a serious look elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport. 

It's not the best offensive line free agency market this season, so the Pats may prefer to bring back a guy they are familar with.

If Fleming is off the board, Waddle still remains as an option for New England.



How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

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How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

How highly do the Patriots value their mid-round draft picks? We'll find out as the run on NFL free agents continues this week. 

If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio plan to make any signings from outside the organization, they'll have to factor into that decision what they will be giving up. Money and cap space matter . . . sure. But there is draft capital at stake.  

The Patriots are currently projected to land two third-round compensatory picks in 2019 after losing both Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency. There's real value there, and the decision-makers at One Patriot Place may be reluctant to give that up. 

Recent Patriots third-round picks include Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan. 


Before we get into how the Patriots might lose those third-round comp picks if they remain active in free-agency, it's worth noting how comp picks are assigned. 

The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. Only free agents whose contracts have expired (not players who've been released) qualify for the compensatory-pick formula.'s Nick Korte is the best in the business when it comes to predicting how many picks teams will land based on their free-agent losses and acquisitions, and he has the Patriots down for two third-rounders in 2019 and nothing else. 

That may sound surprising given the Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola in addition to Butler and Solder, but that's the way the formula broke, according to Korte. The Adrian Clayborn signing (given a sixth-round value by OTC) cancelled out the Amendola loss (sixth-round value). The Matt Tobin signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Lewis loss (sixth-round value). And the Jeremy Hill signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Johnson Bademosi loss (sixth-round value). 

Why do Tobin and Hill cancel out Amendola and Lewis, despite being lower-value moves? Here's how OTC describes the process. (Free agents who qualify for the comp-pick formula are known as Compensatory Free Agents or CFAs.)

1. A CFA gained by a team cancels out the highest-valued available CFA lost that has the same round valuation of the CFA gained.

2. If there is no available CFA lost in the same round as the CFA gained, the CFA gained will instead cancel out the highest-available CFA lost with a lower round value.

3. A CFA gained will only cancel out a CFA lost with a higher draft order if there are no other CFAs lost available to cancel out. 

That final point is key. An example? The Seahawks recently signed CFA Jaron Brown, a seventh-round value. The only Seahawks "CFAs lost" available to cancel out the move were Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, both fourth-round values. Even though there's a three-round difference between Brown and Richardson, per Korte's projections, those moves still will cancel each other out. 

With that in mind, the Patriots may want to tread lightly when it comes to signing free agents who will qualify toward the comp-pick formula. They could lose out on the third-rounders they've received for Solder and Butler even if they sign a lower-value free agent.

Players like Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro or Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman would count toward the comp-pick formula. Would their value to the team be such that losing a 2019 third-round pick wouldn't matter to the Patriots? Or would their comp-pick impact hurt their chances of being picked up in New England? My guess would be the latter. 

The good news for the Patriots is that re-signing their own players -- like offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle and/or Cam Fleming -- doesn't impact the comp-pick setup. Neither does signing players who've been released, meaning the Patriots could theoretically make a splash by signing Ndamukong Suh or Eric Ebron and they'd retain their comp picks.

Given the Patriots made just four draft picks last year, and since comp picks can be traded now (that rule was changed last year), it would come as little surprise if retaining those picks weighed heavily on Belichick and Caserio's decisions as they move through the remainder of the offseason.