Three of the premier pass rushers in the NFL are still available after an extended visit to Denver. Will one of them end up in New England?
As of late last week, several initial reports stated that John Abraham was all but a lock to go to the Patriots, giving the team the situational pass rusher that they have been missing since Andre Carter went down in 2011. However, as the sports media landscape continues to prioritize being first over being right, no contract was signed and Abraham ultimately left New England, as did fellow pass rusher Dwight Freeney. Reports continue to assert that a deal between the Patriots and Abraham is close, but as we all know too well, until a contract is signed we have nothing to go off of but speculation.
To complicate matters, it was then reported that both Abraham and Freeney were on their way to Denver to meet with John Elway and
Forehead McGee Peyton Manning in what could have potentially been another Mile High kick to the gut. After the Elvis Dumervil fiasco, Denver is in need of a pass rusher, and both Freeney and Abraham fit the bill. Denver still had the cap room to bring one, or possibly both, of these men into the fold, depending on what Dumervil decided to do with Denver's attempt to bring him back. For a solid few days, there was a chance that the Broncos could have a stranglehold on the best pass rushers still available through free agency.
However, apparently both Freeney and Abraham have left Denver without a deal in place. Furthermore, Dumervil was apparently unimpressed with the offer they extended him, so it would appear that the Broncos will have to look elsewhere to find a replacement. While it comes as a bit of a surprise that Freeney didn't sign, as a reunion with Manning made a lot of sense, that Abraham and Dumervil walked away shows that perhaps Denver wasn't all that serious about signing them after all and the past few days were simply a case of kicking the tires, particularly in regards to Abraham.
With talks of Abraham to the Patriots still very much in the works, I take this news as a good sign that the deal will still happen. What likely occurred was that the Patriots extended an offer to Abraham, which he was agreeable to, but wanted to test the market elsewhere to see if he was garnering any significant interest from other teams. I'm guessing that the Patriots still have the best terms on the table and will provide Abraham with the opportunity to be a solid contributor, and I imagine that him signing with the team is becoming more and more of a likelihood.
Of course, there is also the very distinct possiblilty that the Pats bypass Abraham for Dumervil, who wasn't on the table when talks with Abraham began. Dumervil isn't quite the impact player that Abraham has been over the past few seasons, he is five years younger and a little more versatile. The only problem is that I doubt New England would pay a lot of money for him, and there are already a few teams that have him in their crosshairs that would be agressive in outbidding Belichick for his services. Regardless, look for all three of these players to be off the board within the next few days, hopefully with one of them in a New England Patriots jersey.