Dec 24, 2011; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (86) during play against the Denver Broncos at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Now that the deadline for putting the franchise tag on players has passed, we can focus our full attention to free agency. The Patriots have a lot of needs that will have to be filled before the 2013 season and there is no better place to do it than in free agency. With this being said I do not think that they should go out and spend big money on anybody. We have seen teams do this before and have it totally backfire on them; Super Bowl teams are never built by spending big on free agents.
It has been reported a couple times that the Patriots are close to a deal with Wes Welker. If this is true and Welker is resigned, then Brandon Lloyd will not be back with the Pats in 2013, and they will have to find a new “X” receiver. Two guys that I think the Pats should go after that many people may not know about are David Nelson and Ramses Barden. Both are “value” guys, meaning that they would not cost much to sign them and they could possibly bring a lot of benefits to the Pats. Nelson is 6’4 and Barden is 6’5, and that would present a lot of problems to opposing teams when they face the Patriots. Because of the tremendous inside passing game the Pats already have, Barden and Nelson would both get a lot of one on one opportunities on the outside, and they can use their size to go up and make plays. One other reason I think they would help out the Pats offense is they can help Rob Gronkowski when the Pats get inside the 20 yard line. ‘Gronk’ is really the Pats main red zone target because of his huge frame, and Nelson and Barden both with their big frames could take some of the pressure off of Gronk near the end zone.
Aqib Talib is another free agent of the Pats and there has not been much talk concerning if he will be resigned or not. It really does not matter if he is or not, the Pats need some help at cornerback either way, and while there are not big names among this years free agents, there is a lot of depth. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is someone that I would love to see join the Pats in 2013. He shouldn’t cost too much money because he hasn’t had the best years since being traded to the Eagles from the Cardinals in 2011. However, he has showed that he has the ability to be a lock down corner for a team. Cromartie has 16 career interceptions, and if he would be able to play like he did while on the Cardinals the Pats defense would be significantly improved. The Pats secondary would need this boost because they may lose Talib to free agency and Alfonzo Dennard to possible jail time.
The last major free agent the Pats have is Sebastian Vollmer, and like Talib there has not been much talk reported between the two sides. This is the guy that the Pats need to resign in my opinion because I really don’t see any good replacement they can find in the free agent market. They do have Marcus Cannon on their own roster that would seem to be a capable backup, but Vollmer really is in a class of his own.
One last guy I would like to see the Pats go after in free agency is Dwight Freeney. As a Pats fan I have seen Freeney terrorize the Pats offense for the better part of a decade, and now that he is available on the free agency market, I really would love to see him in a Patriots uniform. He brings a tremendous pass rushing presence off of the edge, and could also help Chandler Jones along in his development. The Patriots are pretty solid on the edges with Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but bringing in Freeney for third down situations does not seem like a bad idea at all.