"The Patriots, as [Ron] Borges points out, have foot-dragged on too many key players.
In a month, seven key players will become free agents. That's a troubling stat on a team that was already in semi-rebuilding.
But intimating that the Patriots have been tight with tie money is false. From 2005 to 2009, the Patriots spent $539.9 million on player compensation. The Colts spent $545.7 million. The Jets -- who went free-agent bananas in 2008 -- spent $542 million. And if the Patriots had reached accord with Vince Wilfork before last season began as they were trying to do, they'd have blown away the five-year spending totals of both the Colts and Jets.
No team had to deal with the unique dynamic of being a dynasty in a salary-capped NFL that the Patriots did. When guys become "Super Bowl champions," their price goes up. Whether it's Randall Gay or Damien Woody, David Givens or Deion Branch, Ty Law or Asante Samuel, Adam Vinatieri or Marc Edwards, champions are coveted by other teams when they hit free agency. The Patriots had three teams full of Super Bowl champions and they were raided appropriately both on the roster and on the coaching staff. They couldn't keep them all and they didn't try to. They picked their battles and tried to replace through the draft and free agency. They had hits. They had ugly misses.
They're currently facing the fallout of some of those misses -- whether it be Adalius Thomas, Laurence Maroney or Chad Jackson -- and it muddies their future.
But it doesn't change the past. Likening the success of the Colts since 2006 to the Patriots' decade of Lombardi-choked excellence is comparing hamburger to steak."
-- Tom E. Curran