Perk Returns, Celtics Whip Hapless Cavs

Kendrick Perkins made a surprise return to the active roster last night, and took part in the Celtics 112-95 beatdown of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have now lost 28 of 29 games.

A new force was at work – Bob Ryan has a look at the return of Perkins, and what he means to the Celtics. More on Perkins:  Mark Murphy | Chris Forsberg | Jessica Camerato (with 1-on-1 sitdown interview video)| Paul Flannery | Evans Clinchy

Celtics maintain focus against lesser opponent – Rich Levine has the Celtics handling a situation that has given them some problems this season.

Glad to mix it up a bit – Frank Dell’Apa looks at a strong night from the bench.

Captain exits early to treat ankle – Dan Duggan’s notebook has Paul Pierce leaving a bit early to get some treatment on his tweaked ankle. The Celtics Journal by Kevin McNamara has more on Perkins’ return. The Globe notebook by Gary Washburn has more on the Celtics not taking the Cavs lightly. The notebook from Jim Fenton has the Cavs losing their 18th straight game.

Bill Belichick Could Engineer Donte Stallworth Reunion With Patriots and 19 Other NFL Thoughts – Jeff Howe with 20 observations on the NFL.

State of the Patriots is strong, indeed – Jim Donaldson says “The State of Patriot Nation, it appears, is better than the State of the Union.”

Jerod Mayo turns to Ravens’ Ray Lewis – Karen Guregian has the Patriots All Pro looking to get some tips from the Ravens future Hall of Famer.

Super Bowl matchup worth watching – Jonathan Comey tells us that this Super Bowl is worth watching even without the Patriots.

Quick hits from the Senior Bowl – Greg A Bedard has some good observations from the Senior Bowl. There is also Part II. For the Herald, Ian R. Rapoport has also been all over the Senior Bowl practices.

Improved, but Bruins need to get better – Stephen Harris says that while the Bruins have shown improvement as of late, they still have a ways to go.

10 Questions — No. 2: Lingering injuries? – Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox will be healthy in 2011.

Fun With NFL Payrolls and Draft “Value”

It seems that the payrolls of NFL teams can be interpreted in many different ways. This is apparent from a pair of statements in articles over the last couple of days.

On Sunday, Dan Shaughnessy wrote the following:

If the Jets win the AFC Championship at Heinz Field, perhaps the Krafts will be inspired to spend a little more money on payroll next year (are we supposed to feel good that the Patriots have the third-lowest payroll in the NFL?).

Today, Mike Reiss has this:

“We’re comparing teams by a simple, bottom-line metric: Player payroll dollars spent per regular-season victory,” Hruby writes. “Using the most recent and accurate salary figures available, we’re also examining which clubs have been penny-wise and which have been pound-foolish.”

Hruby ranks the Patriots fourth in the NFL — their $152.73 million was the second highest in the league and the team produced 14 regular-season wins.

So which is it?

This is a game I’ve heard the likes of Ron Borges, Michael Felger, and Shaughnessy play. They interpret the payroll one way so that they can accuse the Krafts of being “cheap” and others calculate things out so that it shows that the Patriots are near the top of the league in payroll. They cite bonuses, “dead money” and actual salary paid for that season as variables that can be swapped out, apparently to make your argument either way.

Where did Shaughnessy get his information? If you type NFL Payrolls into Google, this page is the second result, and has the Patriots third-lowest in the NFL. The problem is that the data on that page is from at least 2008.

I’d like to think that Shaughnessy used better information than just a quick Google search.

Shaughnessy also snuck in: Maybe New England will stop trading down to get “value’’ for high draft picks.

I think that strategy, while criticized, has worked out pretty well the last two years. In 2010, they traded down twice in the first round, and still ended up with Pro Bowler and Second Team NFL All Pro cornerback Devin McCourty. In trading down from their original position at 22, the Patriots obtained the picks used to later select Taylor Price (3rd round, from Dallas) and Aaron Hernandez (4th round, from Denver).

Then check out this maneuver – During the 2009 draft, the Patriots obtained the #47 pick in 2010 in exchange for a third round pick in 2009. Then in this year’s draft, the Patriots traded that second round pick (47 overall) to Arizona for a later second round pick (58 overall) and a third round pick (89 overall).  They then sent the #58 pick to Houston for #62 (Brandon Spikes) and #150 (Zoltan Mesko). They then took that #89 pick and sent it to Carolina for their 2011 second round pick, which is now the top pick in the second round.

So from that one third round pick in 2009, they turned it into Brandon Spikes, Zoltan Mesko and the top pick in the second round in this coming draft.

Instead of sarcastically refering to that as “value,” I’m going to say they got VALUE from that one pick and a couple of trades.

For some reason, the media and fans HATE when the Patriots trade around in the draft. It generates snide remarks like the one from Shaughnessy, who can’t be bothered to see what actually comes of those moves.

Still Picking Up The Pieces

With the sudden end to the Patriots season still stinging, things are slowly starting to return to normal, as we settle into the winter, another Patriots offseason, enjoy the Celtics and look forward to the Red Sox. The Bruins, well, will continue to be the Bruins.

Despite sour ending, Pats’ season had its moments – Robert Lee looks at some top moments from the 2010 season.

A look inside my 2010 All Pro ballot – Tom E Curran tells us who he selected as NFL All Pros.

Patriots enter offseason with variety of questions – Christopher Price has a look at where the Patriots will look to improve this offseason.

Wes Welker: I regret press conference – Karen Guregian has the Patriots receiver acknowledging his error in judgment.

Ben Roethlisberger’s a zero, not a hero – Gerry Callahan says that someone needs to stop Roethlisberger, who has had his way for far too long.

Matchup fine by any measure – Bob Ryan approves of this Super Bowl matchup. Greg A. Bedard notes that the teams are very similar.

Should David Ortiz be worried after Manny Ramirez’ $2 million deal? – Rob Bradford looks at the declining salary of the DH position.

Lester focusing on October – Peter Abraham has the lefty making sure he’s in good shape for October.

Still finding themselves short on big men – Frank Dell’Apa’s notebook has the Celtics again with a shortage up front. Dan Duggan has Shaq looking to return on the West coast trip.

Bruins late show a dud – Stephen Harris has the Bruins getting shut out in Los Angeles.