New England Patriots Rundown: Ed Reed and Dane Fletcher


1. The New England Patriots have been speculated as the prime landing spot for Baltimore Ravens future Hall of Fame free safety Ed Reed, but Reed said yesterday that he will “most likely not” be playing for the New England Patriots next season. Reed stated that he would prefer to stick around with the Ravens, but he wouldn’t rule out playing for another team. It sounds like if it’s Reed’s choice, he will stay in Baltimore. If the Ravens, for some odd reason, don’t want him, then he’ll play at a place that is best for him. Reed continues to praise Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, so it does sound like a move to the Pats is still a possibility- just definitely not a likelihood.

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The reason why I think the Ravens would be crazy to let Ed Reed go goes beyond the leadership stuff and what he means to that franchise. Reed’s ability on the football field is also extremely important to this Ravens team, and they actually have a bigger need for Reed than the Patriots do. You see, the Pats have a great safety in Devin McCourty at FS. The Ravens, on the other hand, do not. Bernard Pollard does a nice job of playing the run, but he definitely leaves quite a bit to desire in coverage.

One concern that I would have for Reed in New England is the fact that there is no fit for him as a starter. Both he and McCourty are free safeties who excel in coverage, and McCourty is actually better than Reed at this stage of his career. In fact, the difference is quite significant. Reed is still great in coverage, but he couldn’t transition to strong safety as well in the Pats system due to the fact that he has lost more than a step in run support. As for McCourty, it would be incredibly inefficient to move him to SS where his superior coverage skills (from CB) would go to waste at strong safety.

In that case, D-Mac could be moved back to corner, but that would likely mean Aqib Talib goes. Think about it, if Reed comes in then there’s not a good chance that Talib, who reportedly wants to test the open market, will stay. Because that’s a lot of money tied up in the defensive backfield, even with Kyle Arrington likely on his way out.

2. Dane Fletcher was a great special teams player for the Patriots in 2011 and was expected to emerge as a key backup at the linebacker position in 2012 before tearing his ACL just before the season. The Patriots made the wise and rather obvious move to re-sign the young LB to a one-year deal. Fletcher is a high character guy with better coverage skills than arguably all of the linebackers on the roster (Jerod Mayo might be better, not sure though), so he brings more value to the table than just on special teams. Trust me, Fletcher is a valuable backup and not simply “Just A Guy”.

3. In his chat, the great Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston stated that Sebastian Vollmer is the Patriots top priority this offseason (I agree), Brandon Lloyd is not a roster lock (disagree), the Pats would definitely deal Ryan Mallett for a second-round pick (agree), Julian Edelman will likely be back with the Pats (agree), and he thinks Ras-I Dowling will be back with the Pats (agree, and he should be- still has plenty to prove in just his third year…too early to write him off now).

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.