After having a disappointing end to their 2014 season, the New England Patriots are in a precarious position. Good enough to compete, but not necessarily good enough to be a Super Bowl champion just yet. And considering that Tom Brady’s time is drawing to an end, they don’t have a lot of time to waste, something that they did this past year. With approximately just five million dollars in space, give or take a million or so, the Patriots will have to spend their money wisely. So in this article I’d like to give five predictions as to what the Patriots will do this offseason. I’m not going make any “bold predictions” which can often be a cop-out when they are wrong, but move that I can see legitimately happening.
1. Julian Edelman will not be back next season.
Listen, I love Julian Edelman as much as the next Patriots fan. He really grew on me as a player and a person throughout the season, and really helped us all forget about that Wes Welker guy with his fantastic play. But my thinking is that his great play has priced himself out of the Patriots range. After some cuts, extensions and restructuring, the Patriots could have upwards of 20 million dollars in space, but given that they have to put about six to eight million towards Aqib Talib, and about four to five million for draft picks, they need to keep their options open for other, more important needs. Having Edelman on the same team as Danny Amendola is a bit redundant considering their skill sets and what they bring to the table is so similar. Danny is the with the guaranteed money and years remaining on his contract so him being cut is something I don’t see happening considering it would cost them money to cut him. I’d love to have Minitron back next year, but my gut feeling says that he will walk.
2. Aqib Talib will be given a three year deal worth about 18-20 million.
Aqib Talib is the number one priority of the offseason, and I expect him to be back next year, barring a team coming in and overpaying him substantially. New England has become Talib’s home, after they gave him one last shot in the NFL, so I can’t imagine him wanting to get away from this. Injuries are a pest, but even if he plays 12 of 16 games in a season, he’s more than worth it in those 12 games. As for money, the talk has been anywhere between six to eight million per year as I mentioned above. For the years, I imagine he will be looking for a four-year deal somewhere, but considering his injury history, he’ll only be getting offers of two and three years. My guess is the Patriots pony up and give him the third year to keep him away from other teams, and the money could be anywhere from 18 to 20 million total. Talib is the most important piece to the Patriots offseason, shut down corners do not grow on trees.
3. The Patriots will not draft a TE in round one, but instead a defensive player.
I realize that there are plenty of great first round prospects at the tight end position, but I feel like just because everyone in the media is talking about the tight end position being a major need, the Patriots might not see it as such, and feel it could be addressed in later rounds, or in free agency. The defense is really the biggest worry, and especially on the line. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones are the only guarantees on that line right now. Wilfork is coming off a major injury, and so is Kelly, meaning nothing is a guarantee with those two. This to me, makes it seem like a defensive lineman, someone with great versatility will be the pick in round one at #29. Someone like Stephon Tuitt as Todd McShay had in his latest mock draft, Ra’Shade Hageman or even Louis Nix III if he drops.
4. The Patriots will address their receiver problems through free agency, specifically a “physical” receiver.
The Patriots have an outside receiver problem. Aaron Dobson looks like he’s on his way to becoming a very good receiver, but he’s not the most physical receiver, and has hands problems. This is why I think we’ll see the Patriots address their receiver issues through free agency, specifically either James Jones of the Packers or Hakeem Nicks of the Giants. Anquan Boldin is the top receiver on the market, but I doubt the 49ers would let him go. Jones is a favourite of mine, someone who Aaron Rodgers has absolutely loved in recent years, and I would expect him to come at something like a two-year deal, which wouldn’t be too harmful on the Patriots salary cap. Nicks would be more of a long shot, and more expensive, but I think he’d be looking for a one year deal to prove himself again as a player after his nightmare season this year. There are plenty of nice options and most of them, outside of Eric Decker, wouldn’t be too back-breaking in terms of money.
5. Isaac Sopoaga, Adrian Wilson and Dan Connolly will be the first cuts to be made.
This one might not be too out there, but I feel like these three need to be cut. Sopoaga was a mistake, trading for him at the trade deadline. He should’ve served as a good run stopper, but never fit into the defense, and his spot was taken by Sealver Siliga. Adrian Wilson was placed on IR before the season even started, and was even a candidate to be cut before then. He’s got a rather small cap hit, but it will best to cut him, and have his time taken by Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon. Finally, Dan Connolly is a rather large cap hit for someone who was a sieve on the offensive line this year. One of the worst starting guards in football, and he needs to be replaced.
So what do you guys think? What are some predictions that you have for the New England Patriots offseason? Let me know in the comments below.