Friday, January 31, 2014

Open letter to Boston media: Please stop with the Fitzgerald talk

Dear Boston media,

First of all, congratulations on another year of jumping on and off the New England Patriots' bandwagon - looks like the exercise has done some of you some good!

Kraft loves Brady, but is not going to mortgage the future for weapons for him
The reason that I am corresponding with you today is to ask you to stop fostering the idea that the Patriots will somehow ever be able to obtain wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Every single website carrying a story in regard to Tom Curran's evil report that the Patriots tried to trade for Fitzgerald last offseason is qualifying their stories by calling it a fun thing to speculate on, making sure that they have nothing to be held  accountable for.

Guess what?  It's not fun.  In fact it's downright stupid.

"Clearly, there's an interest in improving their receiver corps." Curran said. "It remains to be seen if they'll bring in a guy like Fitzgerald. The Patriots certainly need to surround Tom Brady with weapons the same way the Broncos have surrounded Peyton Manning in the sunset of his career."

Uh, news flash, bro: The Broncos didn't surround Peyton Manning with weapons, they were just the highest bidder with the best group of weapons among several suitors.  Manning surrounded himself with the weapons. If Brady wanted to buy himself a championship like that, he wouldn't have signed that extension last spring.

Of course, Curran has no freaking idea.  His source for the Fitzgerald rumor is someone whom he believes "without reservation", but it's the same old tired Ron Borges-esque secret squirrel source routine, again leaving himself nothing to be accountable for.

How do we know this?  We know because Larry Fitzgerald doesn't know anything about it.

"Never, never," Fitzgerald replied when asked if he was ever approached about a deal involving him going to the Patriots. "And I know Steve Keim, general manager of the year, very well. He drafted me 10 years ago, so I talk to him all the time. If anything was ever probably going to happen, I mean, I would imagine he would probably say something to me."

For Keim's part, he echoed Fitzgerald's sentiments.

"I can tell you two things, and I want to make this clear and simple -- I have not had one conversation with another NFL team regarding a trade with Larry Fitzgerald," Keim said in a radio interview, flatly denying that there was a kicking of tires or even a cup of coffee.

"Number two, starting with Michael Bidwill on down, it is our intent for Larry Fitzgerald to retire a Cardinal. Period. If there is any gray area there, let me know, and we can get that out."

But that doesn't stop the unimaginative media from taking the rumors to a ridiculous level.

To sweeten the pot to try and get the Cardinals to bite on a deal, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald suggested including a player to go along with whatever draft picks it would take to pique the interest of the Cardinals: Tight End Rob Gronkowski.

“One guy you have to consider, a guy with Arizona connections, is Rob Gronkowski,” said Howe said, raising eyebrows and dropping jaws. “I would consider it. If I’m the Patriots, what are the health ramifications from the knee and the back?

He probably should have stopped right there, but instead offered, “Then (the Patriots) have to consider how easy is it to upgrade the tight end position in the draft this year. It seems to be a talented class,”

“If they think they can get Fitzgerald for Gronkowski, and have the best outside wide receiver since Moss was at the top of his game since 2007, and do a plug-and-play for a little while with the tight ends in the draft and get by for a year, it’s something you have to consider.”

Howe went on to suggest that Fitzgerald is "stuck in the NFC West" , with the qualifier being that Seattle and San Francisco are the class of the division and likely competing for the division title for the length of Fitzgerald's contact with the Cards.

Keeping in mind the fact that the Patriots would have to disrupt their entire salary structure to make the deal work within the cap, the long-term integrity of the franchise would be compromised, something that team owner Bob Kraft would never hear of.

At issue is the Tom Brady angle, and while the media and fans are clamoring for the team to surround the aging Brady with enough weapons to get him his fourth ring before he retires, Kraft is preaching prudence and to continue doing things the way they have been for the twenty years that he's owned the club...

...a period of time that has seen the team reach the playoffs 15 times, winning 13 AFC East Division titles, reaching the AFC Championship in nine of those seasons, playing in six Super Bowls and winning it all three times.

Kraft is a sentimental man, but not so melancholy as to reach for a bank and cap-breaking deal just to appease one player in his football golden years.

“There's so many things that happen. I don't ever believe in selling your soul for a bowl of porridge,” Kraft said to Michael Felger in his own folksy way. “We want to be in the running and do whatever we can to be the best we can be.“

“Nothing is more important to me personally than winning as many championships as we can win while the good Lord lets me be on this planet,” Kraft continued, then throwing down the caveat. “You can load up and do whatever you want and you don't know what's going to happen, There are things happening way beyond your control. There are injuries that happen. God forbid anyone on our team get injured."

Reminding everyone that the Patriots have been built from the inside out, meticulously and deliberately, paying just as much detail to the bottom third of the roster than to the starting 22 - and that they had a pretty damned good team going into the season:

“When we started the season, we had some offensive weapons that were pretty powerful and defensive weapons. And look what happened - less than half the season in, we probably lost five or six of the top players on our roster."

“I think a better strategy than loading up is to try to be solid and be able to compete year in and year out.”

Part of what Kraft is talking about is the actual physical toll any deal of this magnitude would have on the team. The cost in draft picks would ruin the team for years - essentially, for lack of another worn out cliche, they would be mortgaging the future - and the present - of the franchise to bring in one 31 year old wide receiver.

So you see, Boston media members, there is no way that Larry Fitzgerald is coming to Foxborough, so stop bring up his name, stop getting people's hopes up, hopes that are just going to get dashed in the end when all is said and done.

Taking all of this into account, and to recap, with the cap hit that Patriots would have to take, even clearing Gronowski's much smaller numbers, there would be absolutely zero chance of resigning any of our own priority free agents, and the team would have to slash it's payroll in order to get in under that cap...

...the fact that it would also cost the team plenty of draft "currency" to even start discussions, and that Fitzgerald seems to be quite happy where he is, making the money that he is making - not to mention that the NFC West is the best division in football and that the Cardinals went 10-6 in it, a young team narrowly missing the playoffs...

...crushing playoff qualifiers like Indianapolis and Carolina outside the division in addition to punking the Seahawks - in Seattle, no less - in week 16, it sounds like Fitzgerald isn't "stuck" in Arizona, it sounds like he's thriving.

So give it a rest, will ya?


Michael Hamm

Photo Credit: Kayana Scymczak

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