Patriots Free Agency Thoughts
Seven days after the official New Year of the NFL began, the Patriots have had their best offseason in years. At first, the Patriots laid back and didn’t make any moves, except for re-signing a decent depth TE in ‘the Hooman’, which made many very nervous. Then we saw the rival Broncos go out and snag one of the league’s best safeties in TJ Ward for 4 years, and then go out and get our lockdown cornerback Aqib Talib on a crazy 6 year/57 million dollar deal with 25.5 million guaranteed. The very next day the Broncos were able to strike a deal with DeMarcus Ware for 3 years/30 million with 20 million guaranteed. So to say the least, the Pats were 18 hours into the new season and were already way behind Denver.
Then things escalated quickly, and Revis rumors started flying left and right. Next thing we know, 24 hours into free agency the Patriots had upgraded the cornerback spot by getting arguably the best CB in the NFL on basically a 1 year/12 million dollar deal. Now the whole contract thing is weird with the second season and Revis’ cap hit in 2015 is 25 million. So obviously Revis won’t be playing on that cap next season so the Pats either need to get a long term extension done or cut him. But who cares at this point, we have the best CB in the NFL for the 2014 season and that’s what matters.
While the Revis boner continued to rage, rumors began that the Patriots were interested in former Seahawks CB and Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner. Just 24 hours after landing the Island, reports started to come out that the Patriots signed Browner on a 2 year deal but the agent refuted the report. Eventually, the next day Browner officially inked a 3 year/17 million dollar deal with almost no risk the Pats way and a huge reward for landing a beast press coverage CB.
Now a good question is: do the Patriots have their own Legion of Boom in the making? Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman are equal in my eye. I may give Revis the nod for longer sustained success. Then we took Seattle’s ex-LOB member in Browner and put him on the other side of Revis. Not to mention we still have Dennard, a good press man defender vs. small/average sized WRs, and the budding Logan Ryan who showed a ton of potential last season as our number 3 and 4 cornerbacks. Add all of that to one of the NFL’s best FS in Devin McCourty and all the Patriots need is a legit SS (Duron Harmon? Maybe A. Wilson comes back? Or a draft pick?) And they have arguably the best secondary in the NFL.
If all of that didn’t excite us enough, then the Patriots answered almost immediately when the Broncos reportedly signed Manny Sanders to a 3 year/15 million dollar deal by signing a tall possession WR in Brandon LaFell to a 3 year/9 million dollar contract. LaFell reminds me a lot of David Givens. Both have the same type measurables and production through their first 4 seasons too. I can easily see LaFell out producing his cheap 3/9 contract in our system. This is a signing that could pay huge dividends and even if it doesn’t he will still give the Pats at least 600 yards 4 TDs, which isn’t bad at all.
After Talib left New England, the biggest free agent from the Pats 2013 team was wide out Julian Edelman who did his best impression of Wes Welker by giving the team 100 catches for 1,000 yards. The first hour of free agency looked rough for a Edelman/Pats reunion, because he reportedly turned down a 3 year/14 million dollar offer with high incentives. With Edelman set to hit the market, many held their breath (I honestly didn’t). He was rumored to be in talks with Baltimore and Cleveland and even visited his hometown team the 49ers. But once the Ravens landed Steve Smith and Cleveland filled an offer sheet for another slot WR in Andrew Hawkins, Edelman returning to NE seemed almost certain and it was. With the contract details just being released today, Edelman signed a 4 year/17 million dollar contract with 8 million guaranteed to stay in NE. A good deal for the Patriots and Edelman as well. Brady now gets his favorite target from 2013 back for four more seasons, which he must be happy about.
Now, we have lost two ILB’s in Brandon Spikes, who signed a 1 year/3.5 million dollar deal with the Bills, and Dane Fletcher who signed a 1 year/2 million dollar deal in Tampa. But that is fine, we can draft the depth and we still have Pro Bowler Mayo and budding stars Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower running the middle of the field next season.
Belichick has upgraded both the offense and the defense in just one week of the new season. Now a pessimist would say “well, we still need pass rush help, O-line depth and a Wilfork replacement and maybe another WR” and really if you are saying that just shut your mouth. This is the most talent the Patriots team has had in years and this is the best first week of free agency they have had in YEARS. We have made three AFC title games in a row with less talent and now we are looking to have a lockdown defense with the new additions, Mayo and Kelly returning, and the young guys getting another season under their belt as well. We also have a possible Givens 2.0 in LaFell, another Welker in Edelman and the rookies could improve big time as well. Oh, and in case you forgot we still have Gronk coming back at some point too. So go take all of your negative crap somewhere else because all of the needs we have can easily be assessed through the upcoming draft. Right now, we have the Legion of Boom East Coast, led by Revis Island and we still have the GOAT QB Tommy F’n Brady with good options around him. If you are not having Super Bowl feeling about this team, you need to see a doctor about insanity or depression. Like I said, this is the most talented team we have had in years and the other holes will be assessed by the great Belichick, don’t worry folks we have a legitimate Super Bowl shot this year, bigger now than in years.