New England Patriots: Looking Forward to the 2013 Season


As most New England Patriots fans are still mourning Sunday’s 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Patriots’ Front Office, Coaches and Scouting team are busy planning for the 2013 NFL Draft and season.

Today the New England Patriots announced the signing of seven players to future contracts. The selected players are running back James Develin, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, wide receiver Andre Holmes, defensive lineman Tracy Robertson, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, defensive end Marcus Bernard, and quarterback Mike Kafka.

Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (right) and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 free agency is set to start on March 12, and with that in mind, a few of Patriots players that are on this timetable include, Kyle Arrington, Deion Branch, Patrick Chung, Julian Edelman, Aqib Talib, Sebastian Vollmer, Wes Welker, and Danny Woodhead.

From this list, I think that safety, Patrick Chung, and wide receiver, Deion Branch, will not make to the 2013 roster. We are aware that the biggest issue in question is about Welker’s destiny due to the team’s cost to purchase a franchise tag on him.  The estimated calculation is that his salary would go from $9.515 million earned in 2012 to an approximate $11.4 million if the Patriots decide to invest on him.

It’s tough to bear the thought on the possibility that Tom Brady’s number one slot receiver might be going to another team. When weighing all the pros and cons, consideration must be taken to the fact that the Patriots tried to see if they can live without Welker. I don’t think so.

Yes, Julian Edelman is a talented wide receiver and a good addition to the special teams, but his talent does not compare with what Welker can do in the field; much less, evaluate to the Brady/Welker chemistry. Some may see less value on Welker because he missed some vital plays that perhaps would turn the outcome of the game in a different direction. But the fact of the matter is that there are several important factors that probably prevented him from making those plays. Tom Brady was probably not as accurate as he wanted to be – just as the offensive linemen probably were not protective enough to allow him time to adjust his throws.

Relatively speaking, the defense has done a good a job (ranked first in the turnover differential at +25, recording 41 takeaways and 16 turnovers this past regular season) in comparison to 2011 season (ranked first in the turnover differential at +17, recording 34 takeaways and 17 turnovers). And yet, the Patriots still could not seal the deal. Defensively, it appears that the Patriots are heading in the right direction. Although, the pass defense needs major improvement as only three teams recorded worse in pass defense than the Patriots. Of the 594 passing attempts; 369 were completed giving a 62.1 completion percentage for a total of 4342 net passing yards.

Aqib Talib arrival in Week 11 has shown to be a progress, and his injury during the first half against the Ravens in the AFC Championship conference game, was a tipping-point in the course of the game; one that served as a feeding feast for the Ravens. It would a good deal for the Patriots to re-sign Aqib Talib.

Looking forward to the 2013 NFL draft, it would certainly be nice to see investments in key players for the defense, but most important, for the offensive line. If the offensive line cannot protect the quarterback, it does not matter who he has for wide receiver or tight end.

Protect Brady. Protect Brady. PROTECT BRADY!

I lost count of how many times I have said that while watching the Patriots play.

Follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook