Patriots Free Agency Outlook
· What to do with Talib? The biggest and most important question heading into free agency less than a week from is will Aqib Talib be back in New England next season? Early on after the season, both sides seemed very mutual in the return of Talib and it was just an issue of working out the money in the deal at that point. But, then the cap jumped up and Dolphins CB Brent Grimes received a 4-year/32 million dollar deal with 16 million guaranteed from Miami and just like that, Talib’s return to the team seems a lot shakier. Now, it’s obvious that with a healthy Talib on the field the Patriots defense is much better than with him not on the field. That’s where the Patriots get some leverage with Talib; they can bring up his past hip issue and maybe they can talk him into an incentive based deal. The most recent reports have Talib wanting the same type deal as Grimes, and that would be a lot of money for the Patriots to dole out for a player with red flags. The highest I would pay Talib is 3-years/22.5 million with 11 million guaranteed, and I feel the Pats are in that same line of thinking as well. It is obvious BB likes Talib and wants him to return, but he is also huge on value and giving a flagged player a huge contract isn’t BB’s MO. If Talib walks, CB becomes a big position of need and the defense will need a #1 CB. Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Vontae Davis, and Alterraun Verner are all good options that could be cheaper than Talib if he walks. They would be downgrades from the elite talent Talib has shown but they will fill a needed spot. So, the decision is huge for the Patriots front office in less than a week. Do they pay the man and take the risk or do they let him walk and try a cheaper replacement? It’s a huge question for the Patriots offseason and it will be answered in the next five days.
· What about Edelman? If I am Julian Edelman’s agent I walk into BB’s office and demand an Amendola-type contract for the season that Edelman just had. With the recent rumors swirling around trading Amendola, maybe the Patriots have some interest in signing Edelman after all. If Amendola isn’t traded or cut by March 11th I do not expect to see Julian Edelman back in NE next season. Financially it doesn’t make any sense to keep two of the same injury prone players. There’s really not much the Pats can do with Edelman at this point. They have the same player in Amendola and Edelman has the right to cash in on his huge season. I sadly think he is gone.
· What are some targets I would like to see? If the Patriots makes various moves to cut players and extend others to open up cap space, I would like to see them have Talib as their #1 priority since he makes the defense THAT much better. After that, (if cap allows) I would like to see a SS added to the roster. Donte Whitner is at the top of my list since he can come here for second tier money and add a badass hitter in the secondary which NE hasn’t had since Rodney Harrison left. I think a 2-year/10million or 3-year/12 million dollar deal with 4-5 million guaranteed could bring Whitner to NE and help out McCourty and the secondary a ton. If not him, maybe NE looks to paying the top guys, Byrd and Ward, to sure up the secondary long term? Also, another good option could be a well-known Chris Clemons from Miami who the Pats see twice a year. Another need I think can be addressed in FA (if cap allows) is a vet DE that can be a sub rusher for Jones and Nink. Jared Allen is at the top of the list but guys like Everson Griffin, Arthur Jones, Justin Tuck, or Robert Ayers are better and cheaper options that could be signed. And lastly, I would like to see another outside WR threat be added to help out the rookies next season. James Jones tops my list, because he has had a good rapport with Aaron Rodgers and has good production. Emmanuel Sanders, Dexter McCluster, Mario Manningham, Kenny Britt or Danario Alexander could all be upgrades as well on the perimeter at the WR position.