Free Agency Thoughts: New England Patriots

Key Additions: Darrelle Revis ($16M per year), Brandon Browner ($5.05M), Brandon LaFell ($3M)

Key Re-Signings: Julian Edelman ($4.25M per year)

Key Losses: Aqib Talib (Broncos), Brandon Spikes (Bills), LaGarrette Blount (Steelers)

Major Cuts: Steve Gregory($2.85M cap savings),Isaac Sopoaga ($2.5M), Adrian Wilson($1.17M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

I think one definitely has to wonder what the Patriots free agent plans were had Darrelle Revis not been available. The Patriots had never been a team to commit big money and years to cornerbacks and with Aqib Talib’s injury history I’m not sure they would have gone there even though it would have left a gaping hole in the defense. With Revis willing to sign what was essentially a one year Franchise tender it was almost a no-brainer to sign Revis as there is no long term commitment being made. You can’t even compare Revis and Talib there is such a disparity. Still the team is pushing future cap dollars with the Revis move and eventual release in 2015.

Signing Brandon Browner was another solid move for the secondary. Though he will miss four games due to a suspension, Browner will cost the team at most about $3.46 million with no cost to release in the future. The risk of the contract really just comes in the playoffs. If Browner has another slip up and is banned from the playoffs the Patriots will have wasted their cap space regardless of how he plays in the regular season.

The team waited on their own free agents and that helped them get Julian Edelman at the bottom of the second tier WR salary market while adding Brandon Lafell at a moderate cost. Edelman will essentially earn the same as the Eagles Riley Cooper, but without the guaranteed salary, which was a win for the Patriots. In addition the Patriots reworked the contracts of DT’s Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly to keep both on the team in hopes that they can stay healthy in 2014.

Two of the Patriots cuts (Sopoaga and Wilson) highlight some of the poor personnel decisions the team has paid for in the past. Wilson was injured before the season began and the team took on guaranteed salary from Sopoaga last year in a trade and then could find no use for him. That being said these were low cost failures and no brainers to release.

Overall Grade: B

When you evaluate the Patriots you are evaluating a win now team that is doing everything they can to beat one opponent in the playoffs. While things always change in the NFL, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the two constants. The AFC is so down that it is hard to imagine those two teams not meeting in the playoffs.  Last year Manning ripped the Patriots defense to shreds so the team went out and drastically upgraded their coverage talent. While it would have been nice to see them add a better receiver, the way the team plays I am not sure that there would be value in adding that type of player. For what they run, the combination of Edelman and LaFell is a better use of resources than a DeSean Jackson or Eric Decker. All told the Patriots went into free agency without a ton of cap space and came back with two upgrades at cornerback without having to part ways with Wilfork or get into future cap headaches by restructuring the contract of Logan Mankins or Jerod Mayo.

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  • George Proteus

    Their biggest actual loss without a current replacement/ upgrade was likely Dane Fletcher who was a solid, inexpensive back-up/ role player and special teamer. Otherwise, they’re returning almost an entirely intact unit that was a 12-4, AFC Championship finalist team and has upgraded significantly at one CBspot while also adding additional help on top at WR and CB. Furthermore, they are in line to see the pending returns of 5 starters, 4 of who are former All Pros, who played only roughly a half-season or less last year. “B” may be downplaying it.

    • antave

      ^ what he said

    • Anthony

      They are AFC championship finalists that got blown out by a team that went on to get blown out in the Superbowl. Revis does not change that. Another year older from Wilfork who looked old last year, and a bottom 5 run defense that did not get better, does not scare me.

      • George Proteus

        Luckily no one cares if it does or doesn’t. Otherwise, yes the general point is that they were among the best teams last year and the only two you can say were better either suffered as many/ more losses than gains (one of which gained nothing) in free agency while New England made marked improvements in a few key areas. So, unless the mentality is that everything that happened last year happens again this year despite all the evidence in history that contradicts that notion and likelihood, I’m not quite sure what your point is or if you even have one.

        • Robert Snell

          Also he fails to realize that we had 2nd most staters out for the season and by games 5 both of r DTs were and r LB and that’s not taking into count that from that point we were starting 5 rookies on defense,we will a lot better then people want us to be but that’s tough! Cause it’s not about what they want..

        • Anthony

          They really weren’t one of the best teams in the NFL last year is the fact of the matter. They were a weak sauce Superbowl contender last season with glaring holes. They stacked up wins against a soft division and were awfully close to getting swept by a mediocre Jets squad last year.

          They can score points thanks to a great QB, but this is not a Super Bowl contender.

      • Jarodcore

        and the Jets haven’t scared me in a few years. I don’t see that changing either. :)

      • Sarastro92

        Pats are well coached and have a great QB… but overall talent level is average or worse. CBs were an upgrade, but this is a team with no TE to speak of (Gronk is not a reliable asset at this point); there have been no upgrades so far on OL-DL (which were a glaring weakness all season highlighted in Denver); no Red Zone WR threat who can run a fade pattern deep in the end zone (LaFell is not the answer); no WR with speed/ size to blow the top off of opposing Ds; no reserve LBs of quality.

        The Pats lack weapons and talent… last season they overachieved… Them’s the facts. Doubt the commitment and cap space is there to do much about it anyway… spotty record in the draft, esp certain positions… Pencil the Pats in as competitive for AFC LEast Crown this year.

        • George Proteus

          Awesome point about Denver. You know because getting back Wilfork, Kelly and Vollmer wouldn’t help the lines… yikes.

          Yeah, they overavhieved last year…. as their 4th straight 12+ win season and 3rd straight AFCCg. Big time overachieving… wow.

          • Sarastro92

            Denver had injuries too… So did Seattle for that matter… Guess you
            missed the part of the AFC Championship where Pot Roast tossed around
            Wendell and Mankins like rag dolls… can’t blame that on anyone but
            those guys,,, sorry…

            Kelly- Wilfork? yeah right, a bunch of washed up guys who can’t make it three games into the season will save us in 2014…

            Sorry, not buying it….

            Fortunately,
            there are some leaked reports that the Pats finally reallly see the
            Brady window closing (maybe Gigi had a heart to heart with BB, who
            knows?) … so perhaps there won’t be any crapping around this year and
            the team will put enough talent on the field to really compete at the
            championship level (it’s been nine seasons without a SB championship in
            case you stopped counting)

          • George Proteus

            Neither Denver nor Seattle were missing 4 former All Pro players and had another go down in those games. Flat out ridiculous comparisons. Otherwise calling baseless opinions facts is cute but generally worthless.

          • Sarastro92

            Belichick doesn’t even believe your snarky claims. As currently configured, the Pats don’t have enough talent to compete… Wave your pom-poms a little harder.

          • George Proteus

            Do you any clue how ridiculous it sounds to say a 12-4 team in the AFCCG can’t compete? Notwithstanding your silly little qualifiers, it’s just mind-numbing ignorance. And it’s honestly not worth bothering with someone that obtuse.

          • Sarastro92

            Seriously… are you the only person in the world who did not see the Pats get manhandled in every phase of the game in Denver last January?

            Talent wise, the Pats are ranked outside elite, led by Seattle, Denver, SanFran … we’ll see if the team makes an effort to upgrade in areas of weakness indicated above…

            Yeah the Pats avg 12 wins year in and year out… but all they’ve done in the past nine seasons is win two conference championships… it’s a pattern now and marks the Pats as a good team, but not an extraordinary one.

            Being Kings of the AFC LEast division is good enough for many fans but a sizeable minority are not happy with the status quo, especially as the Brady window is closing… perhaps faster than expected.

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