The New England Patriots and Kyle Arrington had mutual interest at getting a deal done, and the Pats have signed Arrington to a four-year deal, per Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. The announcement of the deal has received mixed reactions from fans, with some happy that the slot corner is locked up and others angry due to their belief that Arrington is a subpar player.
I agree with the people who are happy at this deal, because Arrington is a useful player and deserves to come back. While the financial deals have yet to be divulged, I expect this to be a relatively cheap deal. There was speculation that Arrington could get a significant contract from another team, and Arrington did reportedly have “several inquiries”. However, I bet he took a pay cut to stay in New England, as he is somebody who embraces the “Patriot Way” and sees the value in staying with the team. The Patriots also value his familiarity and clearly aren’t privy to falling to the old trap of “Watch a player get burned whilst playing out of position and become convinced that they are utterly useless.”
The way people talk about Arrington these days, it’s almost as if they have forgotten (or chosen to forget) his rookie season in which he was a league leader in interceptions and had a very good season in the slot. It’s almost as if they only want to focus on Arrington’s poor first-half of the season instead of watching Arrington’s swift turnaround after the Aqib Talib trade.
There is no doubt that Arrington was horrendous in coverage last season during the first half of the year, and that’s because he was playing out of position. Arrington just isn’t capable of starting on the outside, and he showed it by allowing a QB Rating that was the worst in the league at that point in time. But he never gave up hope, and quickly turned things around in the slot. Overall, he actually had a decent season. To view my full breakdown of Arrington’s play last year, please refer to this opinion piece.
Those who are upset that the Patriots have re-signed Arrington before Aqib Talib shouldn’t be, because this was to be expected. Talib is still definitely the Patriots priority, and Adam Schefter reported earlier today that the Patriots are expected to re-sign Talib. However, he is one of the most prized free agents on the open market, and he will thus wait to sign with a team. This especially holds true since the other top CBs have been signed (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Sean Smith, and Derek Cox to name three), which means Talib can mull over his options as the clear first-choice CB left.
By re-signing Kyle Arrington, the Patriots have their slot cornerback position locked up for the near future. He is a solid pass rushing nickel corner, can cover when in the slot (but definitely not outside), and he is an excellent run defender. That third skill is one that Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization place in high regard, and Arrington also has the type of character that the Pats like. We must also remember that Arrington is just 26, and that’s a great way to keep things in perspective. He has a lot of potential in the slot, and nickel corners have become important in this passing league where slot receivers like Danny Amendola and Wes Welker have become all the rage- where two wide receivers and two cornerbacks is no longer truly a base set.
I like the fact that the New England Patriots have decided to keep Arrington, and I’m going to like it unless if- for some odd reason- the Patriots overpaid. Don’t look at a few plays when evaluating Arrington; look at his age and whole body of work in just two years in the league. I promise you, his work in the slot is solid if you dig into the numbers and watch him play closely.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.