There's no middle ground when it comes to Doug Flutie, who retired from the NFL Monday.
Some think he was one of the most underrated, most-productive quarterbacks in football history. Others think he was a minor curiosity, with undeniable heart but CFL skills.
On ESPN.com, a poll asked whether Flutie should be a Pro Football Hall of Famer (notice the name says nothing about the NFL). And while Internet polls aren't a beacon for accuracy, the 100,000-strong numbers didn't lie: 55 percent yes, 45 percent no.
Bill Belichick, who clearly enjoyed Flutie's presence with the Patriots in 2005, said it best: He just makes things happen on the football field.
Belichick had been close-mouthed on Flutie throughout the offseason, and the way the team handled the QB position suggests that the Pats hoped Flutie would return in 2006. It's extremely unlikely that the Patriots would go to training camp with no veteran behind Tom Brady. Second-year pro Matt Cassel has looked good, but behind him are rookie UFA Corey Bramlet and former University of San Diego QB Todd Mortensen.
Mortensen signed with New England in January and was allocated to NFL Europe. A cerebral QB who scored a 32 on his Wonderlic at the 2005 combine, he signed as a UFA with Detroit out of college but didn't make the team. "I think that is one of the major reasons they took a chance with me, Mortensen told NFLeurope.com "During my individual workout I met with [Patriots director of player personnel] Scott Pioli. He noticed that my Wonderlic score was 32 (out of 50) at the scouting combine, which is a test that they use to use to determine how quickly quarterbacks recognize patterns and make decisions. He thought I would be a good fit for their offense, which is a very intelligent group of guys, starting with Tom Brady."
Mortensen has been backing up Brock Berlin for the Hamburg Seawolves, but he leads the team with an 85.9 QB rating.
The leading unsigned veterans include Kerry Collins, Jay Fiedler, Tommy Maddox, Tony Banks and Ty Detmer. Of the group, Fiedler could be the best fit after years spent in the AFC East with Miami and New York.
Whichever way the Pats go, one thing is certain they wont find a Flutie clone out there on the open market. The market for 5-foot-9, 43-year-old, dropkicking quarterbacks is now closed.
LAW AND ORDER: FOXBORO
Ty Law has had a busy offseason. Trips to Kansas City, to Tennessee, trying to parlay his 11-interception season for the Jets into a lucrative contract. A return to the Patriots one he left the door open for with his gracious words upon his 2005 release now seems more and more possible.
Law reportedly took a physical for the Patriots earlier this week, and the Pats certainly have the money to spend. Capology is a tough science, but the Patriots are between $10 and $16 million under the 2006 cap - and Law is worthy of top dollar.
The Chiefs were as much as $20 million over the 2006 cap at times in the offseason, and the Titans had to dump several veterans in 2005 to get under that years cap.
The Chiefs are considered frontrunners because of their obvious need and the relationship between Law and KC coach Herm Edwards.
But Law has more ties with New England than he does with Edwards, and although the Pats have 20 defensive backs on the roster none have the experience and big-game performance record that Law has.
-- The Patriots saw enough in a pair of rookie tryouts last weekend to offer a contract. RB Patrick Cobbs of North Texas and WR Jakari Wallace of Minnesota were added. Wallace played alongside Patriots No. 1 pick Laurence Maroney last season, and is a project with very little college production. Cobbs rushed for over 4,000 yards as a collegian, but for 1-AA North Texas.
-- Asked Sunday about the media throng for a two-day minicamp, rookie defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith laughed. "This is nothing," he said. "I went to Nebraska, they get a little crazy out there. Its all they've got sometimes."
-- Patriots owner Bob Kraft went on a tangent yesterday when asked on WEEI radio about the departure of Willie McGinest. Kraft reiterated that football decisions were made only in the best interest of the club, and seemed to infer that McGinest's departure was an obvious choice for both sides because of money.
"Everybody can't be the highest paid player on the team," Kraft concluded. He didn't call out McGinest by name.
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