Perry: Pats haven't mortgaged the future to win in the present

Perry: Pats haven't mortgaged the future to win in the present

FOXBORO -- Brandin Cooks has been paying attention. He watched as the Patriots signed Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee. He watched as they traded for Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen.

His reaction?

"We’re on a mission," he said Tuesday. "Whatever mission that may be, I don’t know, but we’re on a mission. That’s what it seems like."

Cue the index fingers of Patriots fans from Block Island to Bar Harbor flying skyward as they hover over their phones and say, "See! They're all in!"

But are they?

I'd argue no. All in? Those two words together carry far too many implications. They presume 1) that a team is throwing away its future in order to make this year the year and 2) that in previous years a team could've done more to win, could've tried harder.

The Patriots are coming off of their fifth Super Bowl title. They have Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, Dont'a Hightower and Trey Flowers all under contract for 2018.

They seem set up to compete beyond 2017. They haven't mortgaged their future.

There is an argument to be made, though, that some of their moves this offseason -- the Cooks deal and the ones he reacted to earlier this week -- have put an emphasis on the short-term. By dealing draft picks for proven veterans, Bill Belichick and his staff bypassed the option to have younger players on longer, cheaper contracts. Instead, they'll pay more to have players who carry with them less projection.

And as Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft pointed out at the league's meetings in Arizona, the players who were brought in have enough football left in them to be long-term solutions at their positions. Allen (27 years old) is the oldest of the newcomers, followed by Gilmore (26), Gillislee (26), Ealy (25) and Cooks (23). 

You can reference Brady's age and say that factored into this year's team-building strategy. And maybe it has, though Patriots director of player personnel said on draft weekend that wasn't the case.

You can point to the fact that the team could look significantly different next year with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Rob Ninkovich, Ealy, Kyle Van Noy, Malcolm Butler, Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner all headed into contract years. And maybe that has helped nudge the Patriots into more of a short-term mindset.

You can wildly gesture toward the recent swings and misses in the draft's early rounds, which Kraft alluded to earlier this offseason. And maybe that has altered Belichick's approach.

You can print out a copy of the Patriots roster and circle Jimmy Garoppolo's name in red. And maybe that's the best argument that the Patriots are hyper-focused on 2017. If a first-round pick was on the table in a pre-draft trade, the Patriots passed on a potential cornerstone piece (or more) for what could amount to one more year with a proven backup.

But what if something should happen to Brady in 2017? What if Garoppolo is given the starting job and inks an extension? Not trading him would look like the ultimate long-term choice in an offseason seemingly focused on the here-and-now.

So to say the Patriots have gone "all in" for 2017? To imply that they've mishandled their future to be at their best right now? That's a step too far.

Cooks probably had it right. "On a mission" is more apt.

Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Patriots seven-time Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater is in Pittsburgh on Saturday making a free-agent visit to the rival Steelers, according to an ESPN's Field Yates.

Slater, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. The special teams captain and one of the leaders in the locker room signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots lost special teamer Johnson Bademosi to the Texans in free agency on Friday but signed special teamers Brandon Bolden and Brandon King just before the free agency period began.

More to come...

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Tom Brady has been making the media rounds lately with "Good Morning America" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" appearances this past week to promote his "Tom vs. Time" series and TB12 Method book. On Saturday, Brady was a phone-in guest on NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" for their "Not My Job" segment. 

Before a mostly cheering live audience in Hartford and after a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks - mostly drawbacks - of tomatoes and strawberries, plus an assessment of the intelligence of most defensive coordinators, Brady settled in to handle three questions about the world's second-most famous Bradys, the family from the classic sitcom - "The Brady Bunch".

Click here to listen and see how he did.