This offseason certainly has been an interesting offseason- with the offense entering a similar offseason to 2006 and the defense entering a similar offseason to 2003. In 2006, everyone remembers that Brady was literally throwing to guys they just signed off the street. In 2003, BB had become fed up with the Patriots defensive performance and looked to fix it. These moves listed on this one only counts the moves they made after the Free Agency Period started at 4pm EST on March 12, 2013.
- WR Danny Amendola- 5 years $28.5M with $10M guaranteed. The Patriots have been linked to Danny Amendola in the 2012 offseason when he was a restricted free agent with the Rams. Before the start of the FA period, the Patriots were heavily linked to Amendola again. Problems negotiating with Wes Welker caused BB to try and quickly snatch up Amendola so the WR corps of 2006 would not happen again. Right at the start of the FA period the Patriots quickly signed Amendola at 4pm. Amendola with over $5M average annual value (AAV) projects as a starting WR and will play a similar role Welker did in 2007-2012 (Z WR and in the slot) with not as many targets. At 5'10" 188 and hailing from Texas Tech, Amendola will continue to get the Welker comparisons, but Amendola is a much more physically gifted WR than Welker. If you have concerns about Amendola being able to stay healthy, the Patriots do have incentives in the contract where the last $2.5M is divvied up into game by game bonuses where the Patriots will pay Amendola a portion of that money. Overall a good signing when negotiations with Welker went south and should be able to hold his own out there.
- SS Adrian Wilson- 3 years $4.5M? (contract details not disclosed). Some will herald this signing as something similar to Rodney Harrison in 2003. I will say that is not the case. Living in Arizona, I got to see this guy on TV a lot and I'll say this: the Patriots will not be disappointed with him on their roster and in their locker room. At age 33, his best football is behind him, but he does bring that physical edge the Patriots have lacked since the days of Rodney Harrison (through 2006 because Harrison wasn't the same player after that knee injury). Wilson projects to be the team's starting SS in the base defense, with the possibility of him playing a sub LB role in the sub packages (replacing Spikes). At 6'3" 230, he has the size to be a tweener SS/OLB combination that BB liked in Tank Williams. Off the field, Wilson will be a great veteran presence for the team's younger DBs (DMC, Tavon, Ebner) This is not the second coming of Rodney Harrison but a great value signing nonetheless.
- CB Aqib Talib- 1 year $5M guaranteed. This signing has been discussed in great detail, but now I'm giving my personal opinion on this. The decision to sign Talib to a 1-year deal was Talib's idea because BB had a 5-year contract at market value ready. The whole 1-year deal thing is good for both teams, as Talib gets 1 year to prove his worth before hitting the open market and the Patriots get the opportunity of evaluating him with a full NFL year of team control. Talib projects to be in the same role he was in at the end of 2012, shadowing the opponent's #1 WR. Talib is one of the better CBs in the league since he can shadow an opponent's #1 well but to say he's a shutdown CB like Revis or Champ Bailey in their primes is an exaggeration. We'll be in the same situation 1 year from now.
- CB Kyle Arrington- 4 years $16M $8.5M guaranteed. This signing was definitely polarizing for Patriots fans. In my opinion a slight overpay, but sometimes it helps to dish out a few extra dollars to a player who you know. Arrington, we all can agree, is not a good outside CB without good safety help. However, he is a different CB in the slot, to the point where I say he is the Talib of slot CBs. He can shadow an opponent's slot WR very effectively. Also, Arrington is a 3-unit special teamer (punt coverage, punt return, kickoff coverage), and we all know BB values special teams well.
- LB Niko Koutouvides- 1 year $1M. Koutouvides is not going to do much, if anything at all, to help the defense. However, he is a core special teams player (kickoff, kick return, punt, and punt return) and BB values special teams on the back end of his roster. With LB Tracy White still in limbo on a 2013 team, Koutouvides looks like a lock to crack the Patriots roster as the 46th player unless another special teams LB is signed as competition.
- WR Donald Jones- 3 years $4.155M. Almost all of this contract is non-guaranteed so there is minimal risk if the guy flops. An interesting stat line to ponder: 8 catches 164 yds 2 TDs, which was his line is 2 games vs. the Patriots and in the first meeting scored a 68-yd TD (really bad angles by Chung and Gregory too). The situation surrounding Jones is that he has a kidney disorder, which ultimately flared up at the end of the 2012 season. As of right now Jones projects as the team's starting X receiver unless they sign another WR or draft one. On the Patriots he would be a solid #3 WR and can also contribute on special teams. This is a low risk, high reward signing that BB makes that keeps the Patriots on top in the NFL. Hopefully Jones ends up more like David Givens or David Patten in a Patriots uniform than Taylor Price or Chad Jackson.
- WR Wes Welker- It's going to be hard to imagine Welker playing on another team, especially on another AFC rival that has Peyton Manning as its QB. The main reason in my opinion that Welker and the Patriots were unable to hammer out a deal was because of bad timing by Welker. The Patriots were ready to pounce on the Amendola contract when FA started and Welker was still expecting 3 and $24M from the Pats. Ultimately BB did not back off from his 2 and $10-16M stance he gave Welker before FA started and Welker lost this game of chicken. The Patriots were rumored to have a 3 and $24-27M deal ready before 2012 but was turned down and now Welker is no longer in New England, wishing he did take that deal.
- OG Donald Thomas- Not a huge loss because the Patriots lost a back-up guard. Most of you will say the Patriots were better off keeping Thomas and jettisoning Connolly or Mankins, but that is not the case. While Mankins is considered to be vastly overpaid, when healthy he is arguably the best guard in the NFL. Thomas ends up getting a decently paid deal in Indianapolis and an opportunity to start.
- SS Patrick Chung- Pretty much everyone saw this move coming. Chung looked to be a game-changing safety at the start of the 2012 season but unfortunately the oft-injured safety suffered a shoulder injury in the Seattle game and never recovered. Devin McCourty ended up taking Chung's spot at safety and the Patriots traded for Talib. Chung quickly signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, re-uniting with his college coach.
- WR Brandon Lloyd- With 74 catches for 911 yards and 4 TDs, you would think the Patriots would have paid that $3M option bonus. However, it seemed like the Patriots simply didn't like his attitude and the way he caught the ball. Even though Lloyd put up decent numbers on the outside in 2012, he was unable to draw coverage away from Wes Welker and the TEs (with only 1 healthy TE between Gronk and Hernandez) and that ultimately killed the Patriots in the playoffs when the Ravens were able to shut down Lloyd on the outside and whacked Welker so many times, that he could not hold onto passes anymore. In 2013, the Patriots are going in another direction at the X receiver spot.
- RB Danny Woodhead- It's a shame to see the little engine that could leave Foxboro, but the fact the Patriots did not match San Diego's offer means they are prepared to give Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden a bigger role on the offense. As of right now, Ridley is the main starter with Vereen and Bolden splitting reps as the 3rd down back. Woodhead is the FA loss I'll miss the most because despite being small (5'7" 195) this guy should show up big in crucial situations (TD catch in SB 46 right as the first half expired and vs. SF this year). Good luck in San Diego Danny, they'll love having you there.
- WR Julian Edelman- Edelman projects as a backup Z receiver behind Amendola and insurance in case of an injury. There is mutual interest for both teams but it remains to be seen whether they'll strike a deal. A good deal would be a 1-year $1.5-2.5M deal as a prove it before going to the market because Amendola is in New England for the long haul.
- OT Sebastian Vollmer- Now that Jake Long has signed with the Rams, the OT market should pick up the pace. Top AAV at LT is $8.5M and at RT $6.8M. The Patriots have likely had their price set for a while and not budging from it. The market for Vollmer is likely to be more the RT variety than LT. I see him coming back for a 1-year deal for about $5-6M like Aqib Talib did because simply the market isn't there for him.
- LB Tracy White- White has small contributions to the Patriots defense as well as being a core special teamer like Koutouvides, but at 32 his career is almost over. He will likely re-sign for about $1M for 2013 as camp competition.
- TE Michael Hoomanawanui- The Patriots have tendered Hooman at the original round tender, worth $1.323M. It's likely that Hooman returns because no team realistically is going to give up a 5th rd pick for him.
- DE Trevor Scott- The Patriots are in the market for a situational pass rusher but Scott doesn't fit the bill. He could be re-signed as camp competition but very unlikely to crack the roster.
- CB/FS Will Allen- Allen spent 2012 on injured reserve but could be re-signed for CB and safety depth in training camp. He would not make the roster since Adrian Wilson offers something similar but can produce on the field still
- SS Josh Barrett- BB coveted Josh Barrett and played decently in the 5 games he was in for the 2011 season but it's time to move on from the injury prone safety. This guy makes Ras-I Dowling look healthy in comparison and everyone loves making fun of Dowling's health (or lack thereof). Barrett spent 2012 on IR
- OG Brian Waters- Since Waters has been 1 full year removed from football, it is now probably safe to release him since he is unlikely to latch onto another team now. I'm not sure if releasing Waters will create any additional cap space. Patriots still own his rights until they release or trade him.
The Patriots have been linked to FA DE John Abraham
RFA WR Emmanuel Sanders
recently, with the Patriots in the midst of negotiations with John Abraham and the Patriots hosting Sanders for a FA visit on Friday. Abraham is very close to signing with the Patriots and could have a deal done as early as today. The Patriots are waiting to offer Sanders anything, perhaps waiting to see if Pittsburgh is going to sign anyone in free agency before the Patriots pounce. Abraham would be a situational pass rusher for sub packages and Sanders would project as the starting X receiver. To sign Sanders, the Patriots would have to forfeit their 3rd rd pick to Pittsburgh (#91 overall).
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