Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Free Agency Looms for the Patriots

With Gostkowski Tagged, What’s Next for the Patriots?

            Yesterday the deadline for franchise tags was due and the Patriots had two strong candidates that could’ve received this designation: kicker Stephen Gostkowski and free safety Devin McCourty. Both players are widely considered top tier players at their position, top 3 in the league for both in my opinion. We all know what the Patriots need to do this year in free agency and number one on that list is sign the guy that put you over the top, Darrelle Revis. Number two on that list is to sign McCourty. Giving McCourty the franchise tag, to me, seemed like a good likely option as it would lock him up for a year and give the team more time to focus on Revis in the coming days and figure out McCourty’s long term future later on. While the tag for McCourty would have been upwards of 9 million dollars, a little bit of an overpayment, I think that it would’ve been well worth it.

            But just hours ago, it was announced the Pats placed the franchise tag on Gostkowski. While it’s crazy to say that the All-Pro kicker isn’t worth the 4.5 million dollar tag, it’s just weird to think that the Patriots of all teams will be paying a kicker 4.5 million dollars this coming year. This action by the Patriots shows how much Belichick values Gostkowski. Obviously a kicker is immensely important to football, I mean shit we won two Super Bowls because of Vinatieri’s magical leg, but tagging Gostkowski was a mild surprise to me. To me, this action means one of two things: the Patriots are ready to let McCourty walk in free agency March 10th or they are closing in on a long term deal that could be done before he even hits the market.

            I’ve been saying it all along since the season ended, all I want from the Patriots this offseason is to retain Revis and McCourty, no matter what it takes. These two players are the most important to the defense and what it was able to do last season in terms of scheme. Now, if the Patriots do lose McCourty and retain Revis it certainly isn’t the end of the world, because well, that means we kept the best corner in the game, but losing McCourty is a lot bigger than some fans think. How many safeties in this league would you trust to do what McCourty does? All season Belichick left him single high on his own island to cover a ton of ground and you rarely saw him get beat. If McCourty does go elsewhere, who replaces him? Duron Harmon has shown promise, but let’s be realists here people. All-Pro safeties don’t grow on trees. Finding an equal replacement for McCourty will be very tough to say the least. If the Patriots do lose McCourty, a lot of their ability to be very aggressive in defensive scheming is lost, which is huge. Now I’m not trying to say that McCourty is a more important guy to sign over Revis because that’s just ludicrous. All I know is I’ve seen and heard some fans claim that McCourty is replaceable and nothing special and I couldn’t disagree more. The only free safety I would take in the game over DMC is Earl Thomas. Hopefully the Patriots don’t even let DMC hit the market and have a deal in place that will be signed in the coming days.

            And for Revis, well, not much needs to be said here: SIGN THE GUY. I don’t care about his age and possibly overpaying him in 4-5 years. We are sitting here with Tom Brady at the age of 37 still somehow playing like he’s in his prime. The Super Bowl window is WIDE open and keeping the best corner in the game almost puts us right back in the Super Bowl next year. Who cares about Revis possibly being overpaid at the end of his deal if we go out and repeat next year with him or even win two more?! It took ten freaking years to finally get the fourth ring and Darrelle Revis was arguably the most important piece on the team that got us over that hump. There should be absolutely no reason why Revis isn’t a Patriot next season in my eyes. He’s been open about returning and said he’s enjoyed his time here. If you offer him market value, he will happily return. Can we repeat without Revis? Of course, I mean we still have the GOAT himself around so anything is possible, but repeating is 5 times harder without Revis. Also, it’s not like there’s any good backup plan in free agency at cornerback. The 31 year old Antonio Cromartie is the best free agent corner if Revis does leave. I don’t care if it takes the largest deal for a corner in NFL history, Bill Belichick must make sure this deal gets done and Revis never leaves New England.

            So like I said, the objective for the Pats this offseason is pretty straight forward: sign Revis and McCourty. Seriously, if they can do this, then I don’t care what happens after that. They have a very young and deep core, actually the youngest team to win the Super Bowl ever, so they really don’t have many holes to fill. Keep all the player signings in house this season. Last offseason, we saw BB come out of his shell and go on a spending spree for outside talent. This is a time where I won’t complain if he sticks to his guns and just focuses on bringing back our own free agents like Branch and Ayers. The next week will be very interesting to see what happens with both of these high profile players. As of now, I’m sadly not too confident that the Patriots will retain both Revis and McCourty after the tagging of Gostkowski, but I hope that I am wrong on this one.

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