The news that many had predicted we would hear was finally made public this morning, and it sounds like Ed Reed is looking to finish his career with the Baltimore Ravens. This is great for the Ravens, their fans, and the NFL and I have no problem with him not testing the market. When someone has played their entire career in one place, and they win a Super Bowl near the end, why would they start over? The Ravens will find a way to fit Reed under the cap and he will continue to quarterback that defense. I wrote earlier this offseason about my affection for his ability and how bad I wanted him in New England, but the reality is, it isn’t happening. It’s time to shift the focus to the player that has always made more sense for New England to pursue.
Dashon Goldson, an unrestricted free agent from the San Francisco 49ers, is the guy the Patriots need to target. The Patriots have always liked the physical safety out of the University of Washington, so now that the 28 year old is ready to enter into free agency again, it seems like perfect timing. Although the Patriots defense is flawed, it is also the youngest group in the league. The Patriots had three rookie starters on their defense last year, and other rookies and second year players making big contributions. When Aqib Talib came in, it stabilized the secondary and proved that one good veteran could make this young core rise to another level. Adding a talented and proven safety like Goldson will only add to what started last year (assuming Talib is re-signed), and it also gives the Patriots that physical safety they have lacked since Rodney Harrison retired to awkward TV with Tony Dungy.
Goldson was drafted in 2007, and after earning more playing time due to solid backup duty and special teams play, he became one of the more consistent safeties in the NFL, averaging 61 tackles, 4.6 interceptions, and 7.75 deflections per season. This is the type of productivity and ball hawking ability that helps teams takes the final step to win the championship and also raise the defense to another level. It is worth noting that Goldson had over 70 tackles his first year as a starter, but as the 49ers front seven improved, Goldson’ tackles dropped. What happened then was his big play numbers exploded; that is the sign of a player who can adapt and also seems to improve every season.
With the recent restructure in Tom Brady’ contract, the Patriots have roughly 25 million dollars in cap space. Dashon Goldson, who COULD still be franchised (it has been reported that he will not) is looking for a five year deal in the neighborhood of 40 million, about eight million per year. That number is high, which makes sense because all agents are going to shoot high in the beginning, but fitting Goldson into the cap should not be as difficult as it would have been two weeks ago, assuming BB and Nick Caserio can get him down to between six and seven million. That would allow them to re-sign two of their big three (Welker, Talib, Vollmer) and still have room to go after some of the veteran free agents that are going to be highly available this spring and summer.
Hopefully, when the Patriots have Goldson in to meet with the team, they don’t allow him to walk away like he did in 2011. Trust your gut, Bill, Goldson is the piece you need to glue that secondary together.
*Statistics Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com