Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
After two big trades in the NFL that included Percy Harvin being shipped to Seattle and Anquan Boldin being sent to the 49ers, a lot of Pats fans are getting a bit upset that the Pats have not made any moves. In fact the Patriots have not really been involved in anything up until this point in the offseason. However to the fans that really wants the Pats to pull off something big I must ask you: how did it work out last time? In 2010 the Patriots went out and got Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. Everybody in ‘Patriots Nation’ was excited about these moves and thought that they were going to make big impacts in the 2011 season. Well we all know that this did not pan out exactly how they wanted it to. Haynesworth was cut from the team after week nine of the regular season and Ochocinco finished the year with 15 catches for 276 yards and 1 touchdown. Both of these players were huge busts for the Patriots and they are still feeling the consequences, as Ochocinco’s salary counted against their cap for the 2012 season.
What the Patriots should really do in the upcoming free agency period is to do what they did when winning Super Bowls. They should lay low, take care of their own guys and make some minor moves here and there to help retool their team. Going out and making big “splashy” moves really never works for teams that want to win the Super Bowl. I mean last years big free agency winner was the Tampa Bay Bucs and look how their season turned out. When teams make big blockbuster moves it hurts their salary cap number and makes it tough to add other guys to the team that may be needed. It also can mess up the chemistry in the locker room and in my opinion chemistry on and off the field is the most underrated part of a football team. By resigning your own guys you keep that chemistry going and you still have money to spend on other “smaller” players needed to improve your team.
The three main goals in my opinion that need to be accomplished in the free agency period for the Patriots are simple. The first is to resign at least two of their three big free agents. Welker and Vollmer are the priority in my mind but if you can get any combination of Welker, Talib, and Vollmer then I will be happy. Welker is such a big part of the Patriots offense and if he leaves I fear that the Pats offense will not be nearly as productive as it has been in the past few seasons. Vollmer is one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL, and protecting Tom Brady is the number one key to every single Patriots game throughout the NFL season. If Vollmer were to walk then Brady may be getting a few more bumps and bruises in 2013 than in previous years. Last but not least is Aqib Talib. Talib is a very talented corner that made the Patriots defense significantly better towards the end of the year. He allows the Pats to be much more aggressive and they produce more turnovers which gives Brady and that offense more opportunities to put up points.
The second goal I think the Patriots need to accomplish in free agency is to go out and get some “value” guys at receiver and on the defensive line. When you see teams fail in free agency it is when they throw a ton of money at a guy and he becomes a bust and they have wasted all that money on pretty much a useless player. However if a team gives a player a cheap contract, they are not expecting much from the player and if he does great things that year, then the team gets a huge bargain. If that player is a bust, then they do not lose much, and everybody goes on with their life. Two guys that fit this role in free agency that I think the Pats should go after are David Nelson and Dwight Freeney. I have already mentioned these guys in numerous posts, but basically they both bring the possibility of huge rewards for the Pats at very little risk. Nelson is a big receiver that could help out the red zone offense on the outside with his big frame, and go up and get “jump balls” for Brady outside the numbers. Any Pats fan knows what Freeney can do as he has terrorized the Patriots offense for the better part of a decade. He would bring a great pass rushing presence on the edge of that defense.
The third and final goal that I think the Pats should accomplish during this free agency period is to sign a solid cornerback. It is not a secret that the Patriots pass defense has pretty much stunk the last few seasons. A lot of that has to do with just not having talented DB’s back in the secondary. The Pats have a solid guy on one side in Alfonzo Dennard (if he avoids jail time) however everything else is an uncertainty. Aqib Talib may or may not come back and Kyle Arrington is also a free agent. The Patriots could really use a guy like Sean Smith. Smith would not come at a super expensive price, and he brings a solid set of skills to the table. He can cover on the outside and make some plays, and for the Patriots that is good enough for them. He is not flashy but he gets the job done. If he were brought in then the Patriots could possibly have a starting trio of Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, and Sean Smith. That would really amp up the possibility of a defense that is capable of going to the Super Bowl in 2013.