February 25th is a special day in Patriots history; in 1994 Bob Kraft finalized the deal to buy the Patriots and became the official owner, and in 2013, Tom Brady decided to solidify himself as a career Patriot before his eventual landing in Canton, Ohio. This is no small deal, as just last week there were rumblings that Brady was thinking about his contract situation. Those rumblings now appear to be leaks, and the Patriots were clearly in the midst of contract negotiations at that point. This deal has a far reaching effect on the present and the future of the New England Patriots.
Of course, like everyone else, my first thought centered on the present and Wes Welker. I’m not as high on signing Welker, especially for eight million per over five years, but Brady’ renegotiation will basically allow the Patriots to sign Welker for what would have been the second half of Brady’ contract; with that being the case, I understand where the Patriots are coming from. Aaron Hernandez got his big deal and I do believe the Patriots were planning on using him to basically replace Wes, but when has Hernandez proven he can stay on the field? The answer is never, at least in his pro career, and the Patriots have to be taking that into the thought process if they plan on signing Welker.
The other positive to come out of the Brady restructure, from a team standpoint, is the ability to be very aggressive in a deep free agent class. The recent news that Dashon Goldson will not be franchised has to peak Bill Belichick’ interest, not to mention the veteran safeties on the market like Ed Reed and Charles Woodson, two players that would provide an immediate upgrade to a secondary that is very porous. The Patriots now have plenty of money to re-sign their top free agents, at least at the right cost, and also go after impact players on defense and offense. Over the next month, more players will be cut or not tagged that could be free agent targets, so get ready to hear the Patriots rumored with pretty much every player, especially defensive backs and wide receivers.
This deal also has a ripple effect on the future, and the one person on the roster who cannot be excited with this news is Ryan Mallet. Mallett has been the topic of many discussions this offseason, being connected in trade rumors with the Cleveland Browns. Does this restructure set the wheels in motion for a possible draft weekend trade? That all depends on how highly the Patriots value him; if they look at Mallett as the future, they are going to do everything they can to keep him. Every player is one hit away from being the starter, and with the work the Patriots have put in to develop Mallett, and the flexibility he provides with only having to carry two quarterbacks, it will be difficult to trade him, even for a second round pick. Call me crazy, but I think it is going to take a first round pick and then some to pry Mallett away from New England.
All in all, this is great news for all Patriot fans. For those who love Wes Welker and believe he is invaluable to the offense, it appears you are getting your wish. The Patriot fans that have been begging for an overhaul in the secondary and speed on the outside appear to be getting their wish too, because the Patriots are heading into free agency with an open wallet, tons of cap room, and a selfless quarterback who desperately wants to win another Super Bowl title.
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