Free agency doesn’t start until March 11th, but it is never too early to begin looking at who the Pats should, and shouldn’t go after. New England has a lot of holes on their roster, and at the top of the list, is receiver. It seems like this has been a big need every year since Randy Moss left, as they have yet to find his replacement on the outside.
The Patriots already have three promising rookie wideouts, so I don’t think they will look to address this need via the draft. With the correct development, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce all could make big impacts on this team in the future. But I do think that they need someone to “hold them over”, and Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos is the perfect candidate.
Over the last two years in Denver, Decker has amassed 172 catches, 2,352 yards, and 24 touchdowns. He is a proven outside threat in this league, and I know that Tom Brady would appreciate having a big target on the roster. Decker is 6’3, and while he isn’t as shifty as a Demaryius Thomas, he knows how to get open, and more importantly, he makes big plays. The one thing that has been missing from the Pats offense over the last couple of years, has been big plays outside of the numbers. As long as Rob Gronkowski is healthy, the middle of the field will be owned by New England. Where they struggle has always been on the outside, which usually causes them to exit the playoffs earlier than they would like. But hen you add Decker to the mix, those problems will go away. With that being said, the Patriots won’t go breaking the bank for Decker, because other than Brady, they don’t do that for anybody. But if both sides can come to a decent compromise, I would really like to see Decker in Foxboro for the 2014 season.
However, if signing Decker comes at the expense of re-signing Julian Edelman, I don’t want it to be done. The slot position makes this offense go, and while Danny Amendola is good, he simply can’t stay on the field. Edelman has shown that he is capable of staying healthy for an entire year, and his skills as a receiver are just amazing, specifically what he does after the catch. If the Pats are able to bring in both of these guys, I might just pick the Pats to win the AFC right there and then. When you combine Edelman, Amendola, Gronk, and Vereen on the inside, and Decker and Dobson on the outside, you have an offense that will dominate the rest of the league (assuming everybody can stay healthy, which nobody in New England seems capable of doing).