It's clear the Patriots have made some good moves over the past few days. Cleaning up some of their looming contract issues with key players was critical the health of the organization. But with the myriad of free agents floating around out there, did they miss out on some talent that could've put us ahead of the pack?
Signing Vince Wilfork was huge, absolutely huge. There is no question in my mind that this was THE BIGGEST issue for us to resolve. The Big Man got a BIG payday: $18 million signing bonus, $40 million over 5 years with $25 million guaranteed. He is now the highest paid NT in the business and it's well deserved. And with half the teams in the NFL utilizing the 3-4 defensive scheme, tying up the best in the business was smart business on Kraft's part.
Tully Banta-Cain was another high profile signing. A $6 million signing bonus and $19 million over 3 years if he hits his incentives makes him a wealthy man, too. Tully came back to a one year "put up of shut up" deal in 2009 and proved himself. He deserves to be paid.
And, as Mike Reiss reports, G Stephen Neal re-signed with a 2 year deal. Now, all of the starting offensive linemen and their backups are on board. Good. But there's still a couple of looming issues out there.
Stephen Gostkowski, Logan Mankins, and Pierre Woods have tenders to varying degrees, but are not locks on the team. Do we really need to go looking for another kicker? But, the most imported free agent issue to solve, at least to this blogger, is CB Leigh Bodden.
Bodden, like Banta-Cain, inked a one year "let me show you something" deal. And he DID show us something. A far cry from what the multi-year Shawn Springs offered, Bodden is now getting his feet wet in free agency with Houston, Pittsburgh, and Seattle showing significant interest according to his agent.
Jarvis Green is garnering interest on the open market, a market where defensive ends are being snapped up right quick. If they Patriots don't do something quick, they'll have made good signings with Wilfork and Banta-Cain only to have the defense slide back a bit without veteran Green.
As the Globe's Albert Breer points out, there are a few other things to tidy up but all of this is just keeping our head above water, putting our thumb in the dike. Where's the high profile additions? Why couldn't we scoop wideout Anquan Boldin? A 3 year $25 million deal with $10 million doesn't sound that expensive to me and the Ravens jumped at the chance. Boldin could've really stretched the field with Randy Moss. Julius Peppers? Way, WAY too expensive; his 6 year deal was over the top and we were right to let him go.
The Patriots haven't gotten better, just shored up what they already had. And they're not done yet. Are we really going to rely on the draft for success in 2010 or is Kraft, Inc. thinking more long term? Do they have a few more things up their sleaves?
The plot thickens...