Patriots: Looking Into The Future
By David Smith
As the season winds down and we start looking towards the playoffs, many Patriots players are finally getting healthy. This means that many new faces will probably be off the team by this time next year. Let’s take a look to see which players might have done enough to stick around for another season.
Martin has really stepped up after the Patriots traded for him earlier this year. He’s stepped in and has done a pretty solid job with people like Edelman and Amendola out. After Brandon LaFell had the drops against the Jets earlier this season, Martin basically took the No. 3 receiver spot while LaFell was still recovering from his injuries that put him on the PUP list. Now, with both Amendola and Edelman out, Martin will be the No. 2 receiver and I think he has shown enough promise to stay around into preseason next year. In the 8 games he’s played in for the Patriots this season, he’s already amassed more receptions and yards than he did during his best full season with the Texans.
Like Martin, Freeny stepped up when the starters went down with injury. He isn’t going to make any pro-bowls with the Patriots, but he is solid depth for the best linebacking core in football. When Hightower and Collins were rotating in and out with injuries, Freeny stepped up and kept things going with only moderate drop off. If a linebacker has to go next year, I see Jerod Mayo being let go before Freeny. I love Mayo, but I think right now, Freeny is just better.
I honestly had no idea what Michael Williams would be on the roster. He’s basically a gigantic blocking tight end, which is cool. When the Patriots traded for him, it left me scratching my head, but now I see why he’s here: he’s great versatile depth. When the line was basically held together with duct-tape and hope; Williams stepped in and played tackle pretty well, with his size I’m not surprised. That kind of versatility is what Belichick loves. I’m glad they picked him up, he’s come through in the clutch a bunch of times.
I don’t know if Jackson will retire after this season, but if not, they may decide to keep him over Blount. Blount will be a free agent next year and pending on what kind of burst Jackson shows in the playoffs, he may be sticking around. I like both backs, but I think that Jackson still has enough in the tank to be a great complement to Lewis/White. If he can get back to his days in St. Louis (which is unlikely) or can have a career resurgence like Corey Dillon, Jackson might surpass Blount and take his job…unless the Patriots win the Super Bowl and Jackson may opt to retire.
These are just some of the players that might stick around in New England next year that weren’t with the team during the Super Bowl. I know that there are a lot of players that need to be re-signed, and probably will be re-signed. Let’s see what these guys new can do as we make our Super Bowl run.