Category Archives: NFL

Lynch’s Return

Marshawn Lynch agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders last week to un-retire from the NFL and play once again.

This doesn’t necessarily mean anything will happen, as Seattle has to agree to trade Lynch away to Oakland while Oakland has to be okay with trading away assets for the aged star running back.

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For many in Oakland, seeing Lynch play in the Raiders’ black uniforms is like a dream come true.

Lynch’s role in Oakland would be much less than his in Seattle, as we saw in his last year he no longer can be the workhorse that he once was. Oakland, choosing not to sign running back Latavius Murray this off-season, opted to move to running back by committee instead of having a lead guy. So Lynch would have a much reduced role and still be able to carry the pride of a team as well as the city he is from.

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Expect Lynch to play a lot less snaps and rotate with Washington and the other Oakland running backs. Perhaps having veteran leadership in the backfield on a team without much veteran presence on offense (save Michael Crabtree perhaps) is a great idea. It’ll be much easier for stars like Carr and Cooper when they have an old head telling them what to do in tough situations both on and off the field.

For Lynch and the Raiders, this is a win-win. For Seattle, hopefully they can receive enough return that they will want to make this trade. Lynch returning to Seattle likely isn’t an option at this point. They could use help on the offensive line, an area where Oakland exceeds. Maybe a rotational lineman for a rotational running back would make sense here, it’s likely they don’t give away one of their star lineman.

Time will tell for Lynch and the Raiders if the hometown kid can be a hometown hero for the Raiders’ last few years in Oakland.

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Seattle’s Sherman Situation

One of Seattle’s Superstars in the backfield is looking for a change of scenery.

Richard Sherman: the guy who has been touted as the NFL’s top cornerback who is notorious for shutting down an entire side of the field has lost interest for playing in Seattle and would like to move to a contender.

Hold up, since when is Seattle not a contender?

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Actually, since they lost Super Bowl 49 is the answer. Since then, they’ve slumped down to two losses in the Divisional Round and questionable play in the regular season that is far weaker than the explosive team they have been in the past. The funny thing is, they’re still a top team in the league. They still have arguably the best defense in the NFL and a top QB who can make anything happen. What’s the issue here?

Seattle has a plethora of issues on the field. They have almost no desire to build an offensive line around QB Russell Wilson, and on defense they’re only getting older without really putting any new parts in to ensure success. Drafting simply hasn’t been the same as it once was, which begs the question: is this Seattle team (the L.O.B. & Danger-Russ era) on the decline? Will they eventually fall apart?

I’d assume so if one of their Top 3 players and top 10 in the league is looking to jump ship.

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But which ship is Sherman trying to jump to?

I hate to be a homer, but I can’t see another option that ensures success aside from the Patriots. Seriously, if you’re on one of the few teams that can guarantee a playoff spot each year and you want to “move to a contender”: what else could that possibly mean? Is there another team with a chance of making the Conference Championship Game quite like New England? Hell no.

For this to work, Malcolm Butler is gone and the Patriots would need to pay A LOT for Sherman. He’s on a 4 year deal at around 14 million per year, which is honestly and under-pay.

Truthfully, I don’t see this trade panning out. Nobody wants to give up a boat-load for anyone, and the team’s that would aren’t of the “contender” caliber that would provoke Sherman to want to leave.

But this says a lot about the position Seattle is in. When your cornerstone players want to jump off the ship, it’s pretty telling of what’s to come.

 

 

Who’s Left?

The excitement of free agency has come to a halt as teams prepare for the NFL draft. After the draft, teams will likely make decisions on the remaining free agents to see how can be a low-risk, high-reward type of signing. The thing is, there’s still a lot of talent in free agency this year. Let’s take a look at who’s left…

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  1. Zach Brown – ILB (Bills)

Zach Brown is coming off of a very impressive year with the Buffalo Bills last season with Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. The lack of signing here puzzles me because he was great last season and there are plenty of teams that could use a starting-caliber inside linebacker on their roster. My guess is due to a sub-par agent (who he fired during the free agency period) mixed with a good defensive draft means that teams will bite on Brown after the draft. The only real concern is that he has only had one season of play worth calling him a starting-caliber player.

Prediction: Signs with Raiders on a 2 year deal after the draft.

The Raiders are lacking on defense, especially at the ILB position. Getting a stop-gap player who can provide at a low-cost is a good option until they can build an ILB through the draft.

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      2. Jonathan Hankins – DT (NYG)

Hankins is coming off a year on a New York Giants defense that absolutely balled out last year. After spending money on the defensive line with Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and now Jason Pierre-Paul, it was expected Jonathan Hankins would have a breakout season. While being good at run-defense, there wasn’t much else he could provide. The problem now is that he wants money like his trench-mate Damon Harrison, who is a top DT in the league. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen here.

Prediction: Re-Signs with the Giants.

I believe he will have no other option but to fold on his bluff for more cash and re-sign with a team that could quietly snatch the NFC Conference (yeah, I said it). As for how many years, I have no idea. I’d imagine he will probably want to play on a prove-it deal to make more money next year. There’s also the off-chance another team’s DT gets injured and he gets signed to replace the roster spot.

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     3. Adrian Peterson – RB (MIN)

Peterson really hasn’t played in two years. Granted, the last time we was playing he was a stud, as he always has been. Here’s the issue I have with Peterson. He’s old, and age doesn’t bode well for running backs. Not to mention he’s had essentially two years off from playing in the NFL. Lastly, his running style is so one-dimensional that it hurts. He can’t catch passes, and he is only successful running in standard formation. Peterson was one of the greatest running backs ever, but I think his time of greatness is over. With all of that said, I find it hard to believe a team will sign him for 6 and a half million dollars with all of these impending problems.

Prediction: Retires. 

Or a free agent. I just don’t see a team biting on him for that asking price. Maybe next season when his price goes down he will play for a team, but right now I just don’t see it happening.

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      4. LeGarrette Blount – RB (NE)

Blount has a huge year last season including 18 touchdowns and a 1,000 yard season for the Patriots. His rushing attack created a more multi-dimensional offense, which was a huge reason the Patriots ended up as Super Bowl Champions at the end of the year. So far, Blount hasn’t had much news in free agency. Hovering around 30 years old as a running back, it’s tough to make noise in the market. With this being said, there’s not much debate on where he ends up next season.

Prediction: Re-signs to the Patriot on a 1 year deal. 

It makes enough sense to bring Blount back since his asking price can’t be too expensive given the current market. Getting a guy with his hard-nosed running style paired with the shifty Dion Lewis and pass-catching James White seems like a no-brainer, seeing how well it worked last season. Expect a similar result as far as success from the running back crew as last year, even if Blount declines this year (which I expect).

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      5. Darelle Revis – CB (NYJ)

Revis proved to the NFL that he was, in fact, one of the greatest CBs to play the game back in 2014 with the Patriots. Then, he signed a multi-year deal with his old team the Jets to an absurd amount of cash, and now he is struggling to find a team. What happened? Revis is about the money, there’s no denying that. So he got lazy on a failing team. Congrats man, now you’re getting paid 6 million by the Jets to sit out from the season. Apparently he’s lost a lot of weight and is prepared to make a comeback in the NFL.

Prediction: Signs with the Patriots.

Is there another option besides retirement? Nope. Revis knows the system, he knows he will fit and succeed, and the Patriots could use another new CB with the departure of Logan Ryan and impending departure of CB Malcolm Butler. As long as his price is small, it makes sense to bring in a low-risk high-reward player. Revis likely won’t be the #1 or #2 guy on the roster anymore, but putting him as a slot corner (where NE has lost depth without Logan Ryan) in man-to-man press makes a lot of sense.

For Revis, it makes sense to play in New England again on a one-year deal. He’s getting paid 6 million already from the Jets this season, so he’s making plenty of money this year. Playing on a team where he can come in and succeed just gives him a new opportunity to get paid next offseason by some other team stupid enough to bite. The Patriots and Revis can yet again use one another for their own benefits. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

 

The Las Vegas Raiders

The Oakland Raiders are moving out of Oakland, again.

What once seemed like pretend is now very real – the Oakland Raiders are out of Oakland and into Las Vegas, but will wait until 2019 to step foot in their new home as a proper stadium is built in their new city.

NFL relocations have become a bit of a tradition in recent years. This marks the third team to relocate in two years, including the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers (now both residing in Los Angeles).

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If you ask me about the two aforementioned teams and their relocation, I chalk it up to greed at the very top. The city of St. Louis wouldn’t pay for a new stadium, so the Kroenke’s found a new place that would shell out the cash so they didn’t have to. The city of San Diego offered numerous proposals for a new stadium, but greedy ownership saw an opportunity to save money and fled for Los Angeles.

The case for Oakland; however, is far from greedy ownership.

Since returning to Oakland, the Raiders have shared a stadium with MLB’s Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum. This means that at every Raiders’ home game, you can see the dirt from the base paths. It opened in 1966! The field is simply not up to standards of modern NFL stadiums. It became clear that a change was needed for the Raiders, so they began exploring options a few years back.

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In the new era of professional sports, cities that host sports teams end up paying for the stadium renovations/construction instead of the team ownership. Owners pocket A LOT of profit from home games without having to pay for a fancy stadium. Oakland simply doesn’t have the money to be a three-team city. They couldn’t afford to renovate much, and they couldn’t afford a new stadium for the Raiders.

The truth is, neither could Raiders owner Mark Davis. Davis, who’s net worth is 500 million dollars (and inherited the team from father Al Davis) ranks 29th out of 32 teams net worth by owners. The cost of a new stadium has now reached the billions mark. Davis couldn’t afford to pay for the stadium on his own.

Still, the Raiders NEEDED a fix. If the city of Oakland can’t afford the fix, and Mark Davis can’t afford the fix, who pays for the fix?

Answer: Las Vegas does. To the tune of 750 million dollars!

This is smart for Las Vegas. They’re bringing in another attraction to a city filled with attractions! After adding a hockey team, they’ve created a base for a sports following.

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Still, I see some problems that could arise from all of this.

For one, most of the Las Vegas population are tourists. That means fans of other teams visiting Vegas to come see their team play against the Raiders. While the Raiders might be good right now, teams fluctuate from successful and unsuccessful. It’s natural. I worry that a majority of attendants will be fans of the opposing team instead of the Raiders. Further, what happens when the Raiders stop being successful?

Secondly, and I don’t understand the details of this all, but a city centered around gambling mixed with a home sports team doesn’t sound like the best idea in the world. I’m not sure what kind of normal problems could occur, but in a worst-case scenario it seems more likely a Black Sox situation could occur when a player is spending every day in that city.

Is this move good or bad? Let me know what you think and stay tuned.

Who’s to Blame for Butler’s Beef?

If you’re a Patriots fan and you don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard the name Malcolm Butler.

The once undrafted rookie turned Super Bowl 49 hero with a goal-line interception to seal a victory against the Seattle Seahawks is a moment engraved in NFL history forever. Literally, that’s one of those plays that will be remembered when people talk about the history of the NFL; a moment that will capture the Patriots dynasty.

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After Super Bowl 49, the Patriots dropped their top 3 cornerbacks (at the time Darelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Kyle Arrington) and it seemed that the new #1 cornerback for the Patriots was… Malcolm Butler. A kid who wasn’t on the roster to start the season before. A player many confused for Colts CB Darius Butler during their playoff run. Crazy talk!

Yet, in the past two years Butler has surpassed expectations and played like a Top 10 cornerback in the league. He isn’t the best at any one thing, but his mindset to give 110% on each snap is what keeps him in discussion as a top CB in the league. So what’s the issue?

Again, unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that Malcolm Butler is upset with his current contract situation. Because he is playing under a rookie deal, he makes jack squat. This offseason Butler is a restricted free agent, meaning teams can attempt to sign him, but the Patriots can match any contract offer he receives AND has the final say if he were to stay or leave the team. The free agent tender means this: the Patriots get to chose the worth of the player. They slapped a first-round tender on Malcolm Butler, meaning that, as long as he signs the contract, he gets paid 3.9 million dollars to play for the Patriots this year. If another team wishes to give him a long term offer, and Malcolm as well as the Patriots let him walk to this new team, they must give the Patriots their FIRST ROUND PICK this draft. Whoa, talk about a hefty load.

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Essentially, it means this: The Patriots are completely in the driver’s seat. It would take an absolutely crazy team to give up 10’s of millions of dollars per year for Malcolm Butler along with a first-round caliber player in the draft this year.

Why is Butler mad? The dude wants to get paid. Honestly, you can’t blame him for being upset. He is 27 years old, in his prime in the NFL, and made 500,000 last year. That’s nice and all, until you realize he could be making somewhere around 12 million per year on another roster, if not more. For reference, Logan Ryan (the cornerback playing BEHIND Butler for New England the past few years) signed a contract for 10 million per year over the next few years. Further, a cornerback’s shelf-life and opportunity to make money is not long. To make matters worse, the Patriots just brought in another top cornerback in Stephon Gillmore and are paying him 65 million over 5 years.

Before you get mad at Butler, understand it’s a business. You likely wouldn’t be happy with such a significant paycut either when your coworker makes vastly more and you know you could make more money elsewhere. Here’s the catch: Butler doesn’t necessarily want to leave New England. He loves it here. He just wants to get paid fairly.

And you can’t get mad at New England either. Tendering Butler early in the offseason allowed them to still have a huge budget to spend and splurge on the roster like they have. It’s not like anyone is going to pursue Butler with the huge price it will cost. It’s like using coupons – when it’s right in your face why the hell wouldn’t you save the money? No-brainer.

What can be done about this? Like I said, New England is in the driver’s seat. Butler can refuse to sign the tender, which means he would not play next year. Yet, he would still be a restricted free agent next offseason, repeating the process. A restricted free agent has to play at least 8 games on the active roster in an NFL season to get out of the restricted contract. Butler can try and convince other teams to sign him, but that will be hard.

Signing a player to that much money and giving up a first rounder if another team signs him is just too much of a bold move. First rounders are precious in the NFL. A team could try and trade for him, but that doesn’t make sense on the Patriots end. If you’re the Patriots, what trade could be better than a team’s first round pick AND not having to trade away any assets on the Patriots end? Lastly, Butler can play his ass off next season and be a free agent next offseason, which is likely to happen.

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The Saints have been linked as a potential candidate for Butler. They may just sign him and give up their first round pick (#11). They received the Patriots first round pick (#32) in a trade for Brandin Cooks. Still, that seems like an idiotic move. The #11 pick is likely a day-one impact starter in most drafts.

I have three notes on this dilemma that I couldn’t find a place for anywhere else.

For starters, this draft is speculated to be loaded with talented defensive players, especially at the defensive back position. This only forces more leverage into the hands of the Patriots. Why would anyone give up so much when they can likely find a starting defensive back in the draft?

Secondly, the Patriots could easily be doing this with the intent of figuring out Butler’s market value (along with saving money this year). They just did something similar with Dont’a Hightower. Playing patient and figuring out a player’s value, especially in this instance where Butler has no place to go, seems to pay off by saving every possible penny.

Lastly, this doesn’t mean that Butler won’t stay in New England. The Patriots aren’t cheap with money: they’re smart with money. There’s a difference. Although they find ways to save money wherever they can, the Patriots also have no problem giving player’s more money through bonuses when they deem it appropriate. Remember a similar situation happened with offensive lineman Logan Mankins in 2011, who was tired of being franchise tagged instead of a long-term deal.

The Patriots will likely pay Butler, they have the money to, and he’s a game-changer for their team. Loading up on defense for the end of Brady’s reign and the transition to a new QB in the next few years seems like a smart move.

 

 

 

Foxboro’s Free Agent Frenzy

What in the world is going on in Foxboro?

This offseason the Patriots took a new approach in comparison to their patient small-changes offseason we’ve come to expect each year. Usually, a big name splash is rare for the Patriots, and accumulating draft picks seems like the right idea. So what the hell is going on in the mind of Bill Belichick?

With 60 million to spend starting the offseason and plenty of players hitting free agency, here’s what has happened thus far in free agency.

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1. The Patriots re-signed smaller name marquee players Alan Branch, James Develin and Duron Harmon to smaller deals.

These moves are actually huge. The impact both have on defense don’t always show up on the stat chart, but it shows in-game. Alan Branch has been monumental in the trenches, stopping the run with his big body allowing linebackers to press other holes easily and mentoring the youngsters on a very fresh defensive line has been huge. Coined as Uncle Phil, Branch signed a two-year deal and will likely finish his career with the Patriots continuing to be an important piece to the defensive puzzle.

Harmon is equally as important on defense. Aside from late-game interceptions to seal big games, Harmon’s role has to be one of Belichick and Matt Patricia’s most important pieces. His uncanny ability to cover the deep threat helps alleviate the cornerbacks and most importantly lets Safety Devin McCourty play whatever and wherever he needs to on the field. Harmon is a huge asset to the multi-purposed McCourty. He signed a four year deal with the Patriots.

James Develin is a non stat-sheet guy who needs no introduction. His presence is felt when in-game from pass and run protection. He is easily one of the best fullbacks in the game, and re-signing him to a multi-year deal on a small cost is a no-brainer for Bill Belichick.

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2. The Patriots traded for Tight End Dwayne Allen (Colts) and Defensive End Kony Ealy (Panthers).

These are again smaller moves that will turn out to be huge. Getting Dwayne Allen will help replace the star Martellus Bennett, which is certainly a down-grade but is still a very safe move. Having Allen is a great source for a number 2 Tight end in double TE sets, something the Patriots love, and having a number 2 TE who is probably greater than half of the starting TE’s in the league. He is a huge asset in the blocking game, which is great for Old Man Brady’s protection (along with a re-vamped offensive line and FB James Devellin).

When Rob Gronkowski inevitably gets hurt during the season, we have a solid option at Tight End. The only year guaranteed on his contract is 2017, so if Allen turns out to be terrible, we can re-start the “safe #2 TE” option all over again.

Kony Ealy I know little about. He’s 25, played DE for the Panthers, and from what I know is a big-bodied lineman who is good at stopping the run. This is a great asset, especially pairing with the youngster Trey Flowers who is also a big bodied run-stopper at Defensive End. One thing that has caused us trouble in the past was outside running by opposing teams (see Falcons RBs in the SuperBowl; Le’veon Bell when healthy). If the interior run defense remains stellar, there’s little a team can do against us in the run (a statement we haven’t heard in a LONG time).

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3. Patriots sign defensive lineman Lawrence Guy and Pro-Bowl cornerback Stephon Gillmore.

I’ll get the shorter statement out of the way first – Lawrence Guy is a big-bodied interior lineman with the ability to stuff run-gaps and has versatility to play anywhere on the line. In short, Lawrence is just a Guy. Expect him to be a rotational big-man, and with a four year 20 million dollar contract, he may be ushered in as a starter along Malcolm Brown come Alan Branch’s retirement in two years.

Stephon Gillmore is a situation that both excites me and scares me, the kind that has me chewing my nails down a little too much. Okay that was gross, but seriously, this is perplexing. Bill Belichick gave 40 million guaranteed to the Bills ex-cornerback who is a CB #1 in the league, but is coming off his worst year with tons of physicality penalties and streakiness. This is stranger when you recall that absolute star cornerback and New England favorite Malcolm Butler is due for a big payday – around the same amount they payed Gillmore.

My interpretation is this: Gillmore will be a great #2 corner this year (think of Talib & Chris Harris in Denver type situation) with Butler. If Butler sadly cannot reach a deal with the Patriots, which seems incoming as the situation is now reminiscent of Jaime Collins last year, Gillmore will be a solid #1 cornerback as well. Gillmore has played in the league longer than Butler, so he seems older, but in reality they’re both 26. Maybe his streakiness last year can be attested to lost motivation in a Rex Ryan dumpster-fire season.

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4. The Patriots trade draft picks for star wideout Brandin Cooks.

There isn’t much I can say here without feeling like I’m just hyping up the Patriots. This is huge. This trade is monumental for the legacy of the Patriots. Cooks got frustrated playing on the Saints as a decoy every game while rookie Michael Thomas ate up yards and catches on the other end of the field. He wanted out plain & simple.

Cooks isn’t chump change my friends. He’s one of three players to record 75+ catches, 1000+ receiving yards, and at least 8 touchdowns in both last year and the year before that. The other guys? Oh, just Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. No big deal. Cooks has the potential to turn into a top 5 receiver in the league unquestionably as a Patriots player.

He’s on a three year deal, costing only one million this year and bumping up to 8 and 9 million respectively the last two years. We’re getting a star for the cost of much less to usher out the greatest quarterback ever. Alongside Edelman, Hogan, Gronkowski, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Mitchell, Dwayne Allen, James White, and Danny Amendola – this has the potential to be one of the most explosive offensives ever.

There are question marks though. Cooks will have to share targets just like he did in the Saints organization. The difference? The Patriots are a winning team with a culture of putting egos and selfishness down to reach a common goal. Plenty of players who were deemed locker room poison far worse than Cooks was in NO have bought into the system and came out on top. I think this could happen here.

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5. The Patriots re-sign defense’s centerpiece Dont’a Hightower to a 4 year extension

This one is huge! All of the moves made above simply wouldn’t matter nearly as much if we were without Dont’a Hightower. Hightower signed late in free agency, as he wanted to test his market value before making a commitment. There was no real worry that Hightower would go to a different team, he loves New England too much. Other teams were just a bargaining chip move. Hightower is the perfect piece that makes Belichick’s defense work so well. The problem for him is that his size, injury history, and unique skillset make it tough for him to fit in other defensive schemes, which lowered his value.

Still, Hightower is the MVP for our defense. His size can help to rotate him to many positions on the field wherever Belichick needs him, in whatever scheme we chose to run on any given day. 4-3 Middle Linebacker? Sure. 4-3 Outside backer? No problem. 3-4 Pass-rusher? He’s up for it. 4-3 Defensive end? The list goes on… By the time Hightower’s new contract is up he will be 31. He will be the last great front 7 star in the history of Bill Belichick – a GREAT list to be a part of.

There’s no disputing what is going on here. Bill Belichick sees the window of success is closing. There’s not a lot of time left with Tom Brady, now 40 years old, on the roster. Only two years before Peyton Manning’s embarrassing ride off into the sunset, he put up his best numbers ever. Father time can catch up unexpectedly. Similarly, there’s little time left for Belichick to coach in his age. Once those two leave, the dynasty is over. Plain and simple.

Spending now increases the chances of getting another ring – perhaps two. We’ve done a lot more with a lot less on the field. It’s clear that both Bill and Brady have more to put on the field. With a re-vamped defense AND a better and younger defense – expect the Super Bowl winners to be favorites yet again.

 

Free Agency -Who Should the Patriots Sign?

As the NFL Free Agent Period is about to commence, the New England Patriots have a lot of work to do to maintain their dominance in the division, conference, and league. Overall, the biggest signings the Patriots can do involve players that already were on the roster last season. If the Patriots can retain Butler and Hightower and a combination of Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan (if not both of them), this has been a successful offseason.

But to make this post interesting, I have to find some other players that would fit the Patriots well. I can’t really see Butler and Hightower departing from New England, so I’m going to work with the assumption that they are re-signed in this scenario. Here’s some free agents worth signing for the Patriots.

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DE Dwight Freeney (Falcons) – One thing we could use a helping hand with is the pass rush. The pass rush hasn’t been necessarily bad, but guys like Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long are free agents and will likely be playing for a new team next season. You have to imagine DE Trey Flowers is ready to be an ever-down pass rusher on one side; comprising the other side of a couple guys is probably the best move. Working with the assumption that veteran Rob Ninkovich and third-year Geneo Grissom can fill the other side, getting a fresh face in there isn’t a bad idea. Freeney came off a good season with the Falcons, and he’s going to want to win a SuperBowl as soon as possible since his career is on the back-9. Look, if you’re not going to commit to the runner-up, it probably means you want to go to the winner. I think it’s a solid move.

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WR Brandon Marshall (Jets) – What seems like a fairly unrealistic and unnecessary move is actually a likely move. Marshall is all about winning, but he’s never won. He requested to be let go from the Jets just a week back, he’s looking to play for a winner. Maybe he’s picking up advice from ex-teammate Martellus Bennett. Further, it seems both Marshall and the Patriots are showing mutual interest. As long as the money is right, this move seems like a no-brainer.

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CB Captain Munnerlyn (Vikings) – If we happen to lose Logan Ryan in free agency (which seems likely), then finding someone who can play the nickel spot exceptionally seems like a great idea. Captain Munnerlyn is coming off a down year, so his stock is likely low, and I’m sure he’d like to play for a championship squad. Further, it might be a good idea to bring in veteran presence with a young cornerback crew.

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TE Luke Willson (Seahawks) – This one is interesting. Willson lost his starting spot when Jimmy Graham came to Seattle, and he probably would like to be a starter somewhere else (and likely could). Still, New England learned a couple things from last year: it’s nice to have the two-TE set, and it’s REALLY nice to have a safe option when Rob Gronkowski goes down from injury. The inevitable Gronk going down usually kills our chances each year, but when Marty Bennett was in town there was no issue. Getting a guy who can play as a starter AND serve as a second option is crucial here. Willson can catch the ball, but I’m unsure of his skills as a blocking tight-end. As we know, Seattle is atrocious at protecting the quarterback. I could be wrongly accusing him, maybe he’s a good blocker when he’s on a team that utilizes their offensive line and practices the importance of blocking. Still, perhaps obtaining Willson and getting a strong blocking tight-end and rotating them would be nice, but that’s also predictable.

Free Agency will be starting at the end of the week, and many of these guys will start moving fast. There’s no telling what can happen, but the Patriots should acquire some fresh faces with the incoming threat of loosing a lot of players from last year’s Championship team.