If there is any history the Patriots Organization has in free agency, it's that they love to get the bargain deals. Hardly do they ever spend big on any free agent, let alone a WR, CB, or Safety. But will they do so this year?
Brady restructured his contract which saved a hell of a lot of money. You can view it as "sign Wes Welker," but I think Brady just wants the Patriots Organization to just spend what they can to make this team better equipped to go to the superbowl, and win it.
There were reports that the Pats will not pick up Lloyd's option, but as the day's go by, the more it seems that they may keep Lloyd. If anything, because it's at a bargain price, and he produced will in our offense, snagging 74 receptions for 911 yards (and though he only reeled in 4 TDs, one would think that he would be getting more of those now that the chemistry between him and Brady looked to have been growing a lot). Bargain price, good production. It seems to fit the Patriots M.O. when it comes to Lloyd.
So with all this cap money, will they end up spending big on one guy? Is it possible? I think if there is any offseason where the answer would be "yes," it would be this one. They have 3 important free agents in Welker, Talib, and Vollmer. Out of those three, Welker may be the guy where they have to spend big, but will they at his age and the amount of hits he takes? A blogger on here once mentioned (sorry that I forgot your name) that "you give guys like Welker long term deals when that player is going to be important for your future." To paraphrase further, I believe the blogger stated that Welker, with all the hits he gets, his age, that signing a long term deal with a lot of money would actually hurt the Patriots down the road more than it will help.
Talib and Volmer should not be overly expensive at all. So unless the Pats do plan on giving Welker a big contract if they have no choice, none of the big 3 would get big contracts.
There is a lot of free agents who can get big money.
- Victor Cruz (RFA), WR, Giants. Age: 26.
Victor Cruz proved that his amazing 2011 season was no fluke, catching 86 balls for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns this past year. He carried the receiving corps when Hakeem Nicks was out.
- Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers. Age: 27. Mike Wallace is overrated. He has blazing speed, but he's a horribly inefficient receiver. He dropped tons of passes and ranked near the bottom of the NFL in terms of catch percentage among starting wideouts.
- Greg Jennings, WR, Packers. Age: 29. Greg Jennings is a talented receiver, but he may be overvalued because he's always worked with either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. Plus, he tends to get banged up quite frequently.
With Walter Football's descriptions of Wallace and Jennings, I am hesitant to really pay any of these guys big money. Though they are young, they have negatives in which I do not think the Pats would want to risk spending big money on.
Victor Cruz is interesting. He will likely cost us a 1st round pick (if there was ever a RFA that would cost worthy of a 1st rounder, it would be him), and big money as well. So in no way do I believe BB will spend big on him either, if anything to drive up the price tag for the Giants to keep him.
Overall Thoughts: I can't see the Pats spending big on any of these guys. The only guy that would make sense would be Wes Welker, but it would be a grave mistake to spend big on him as well. We could leave Free Agency with just Brandon Lloyd, with the unknown Ebert next on the depth chart.
DT next to Wilfork is also considered a need. But if you look at this list, none of these guys will expect big money. I expect the Pats to sign a couple of players here (interestingly, both Ty Warren and Richard Seymour are free agents. My personal favorite it Desmond Bryant though).
- Sam Shields (RFA), Packers. Age: 25.
Sam Shields missed some time with a high ankle sprain but otherwise enjoyed a stellar 2012 campaign in which he became a legitimate shutdown cornerback. If he keeps this up, he'll be rich come Spring 2014 - if not sooner.
- Aqib Talib, CB, Patriots. Age: 27.
Aqib Talib has No. 1 cornerback potential, but happens to be a major head case. Any team that's even thinking about bringing him in needs a strong locker room.
- Keenan Lewis, CB, Steelers. Age: 27.
Keenan Lewis played very well in his first season as a starter in 2012, surrendering a solid 52.7 completion percentage and just three touchdowns.
- Chris Gamble, CB, Panthers. Age: 30.
Chris Gamble played in only four games this past season because of a shoulder injury, but he's still a pretty solid cornerback. However, he's 30 so his best days are behind him.
Some young guys here, but will the Pats spend big on any of these CBs?
The most likely player is Aqib Talib, who already has half a year in our system, is big, physical, and has shown the ability to stay with #1 WRs on our team.
We all know now that the market for CBs and Safeties alike, are now very deep. Secondary is a clear need for the Pats, much moreso than WR given that our offense is centered around TEs. It's likely the Pats will sign one or even two CBs on the market, with or without Talib, and one of them could be one of these 4 CBs.
If we were to sign a big, long term contract to one of these guys, it would be between Shields, Talib, and Lewis, since Gamble is already 30. Shields seems like he would cost way too much, so that may be between Talib and Lewis.
I think either one could be signed for big cash. Though I think Talib can be signed for about 7 million a year. Lewis, I am not sure. But Pitt would likely want to strongly pursue him. Chances are Talib may be back as a Patriot, and maybe not on as big of a contract as we would think. He seems to like being a Patriot, and I don't think he will end up as some malcontent here. So would the Pats spend big? Doubt it. I think they would spend just enough to keep Talib, and sign one of the cheaper, and bargain, CBs on the market for depth or a fill in in case Talib gets injured.
- Dashon Goldson, S, 49ers. Age: 28. Dashon Goldson had some issues in coverage back in 2011, but did what he needed to do to correct them this past season. Goldson made the Pro Bowl for good reason.
- Louis Delmas, S, Lions. Age: 26.
Louis Delmas is one of the most talented safeties in the NFL, but he just can't stay healthy. He's missed 13 games in the past two seasons.
- Glover Quin, S, Texans. Age: 27.
A converted cornerback, Glover Quin has starred in his new safety role over the past couple of years. He was particularly sound in 2012, so he deserves a nice contract.
- Kenny Phillips, S, Giants. Age: 26. Kenny Phillips is one of the better safeties when healthy, but he missed most of 2012 with a knee injury.
- Ed Reed, S, Ravens. Age: 34. Ed Reed will turn 35 in September, but he still played at a high level for the Ravens this past season despite battling an injury.
- Stevie Brown (RFA), S, Giants. Age: 26. Stevie Brown was impressive in relief of an injured Kenny Phillips, picking off eight passes. His one weakness is run support.
- LaRon Landry, S, Jets. Age: 28. No one wanted LaRon Landry last offseason. He was considered an injury waiting to happen. Well, he proved everyone wrong with a solid 2012 campaign. He should still be considered fragile, but he has definitely earned himself a nice contract.
- Gerald Sensabaugh, S, Cowboys. Age: 30. Cutting Gerald Sensabugh saved the Cowboys just $1.4 million in cap space, so this was a strange move. Sensabaugh isn't very good in run support, but he's pretty solid in coverage. He can be a good starter for some team, though he'll have to fight through a very competitive free-agent safety class.
- Charles Woodson, S/CB, Packers. Age: 36. Charles Woodson was released because of financial reasons, so it's not like the Packers don't think he can't play anymore. While Woodson isn't nearly the elite defensive back he used to be, he can still get the job done as a soon-to-be 37-year-old (in October).
For a team that sorely needs a Safety next to McCourty, the football Gods smiled upon the Patriots with an abundance of starting quality Safeties.
Though the only guy on this list who would command a big contract, imo, is Dashon Goldson. Every one else has something about them that makes it seem as they don't yet deserve a big contract. Would BB go after Goldson? Last year it was reported that the Pats were interested in getting Goldson, and then the Niners tagged him.
So Goldson is pretty much the only free agent Safety that would want some big money. There are many other veteran Safeties on the market that the Patriots could take a look at, such as Reed and Woodson, as well as Adrian Wilson. But outside of Goldson, there shouldn't be anyone else on the market of Safeties that would garner a big contract.
Will the Pats spend big on a free agent?
If the Pats were to spend big on a free agent, it would likely be on Wallace, Welker, Jennings, or Goldson. Welker being the cheapest of the WRs.
Brady restructured his contract so Belichick can get talent to make this team even better and more consistent. If they were to spend big on any of these guys, it would be in relation to the talent in the draft, and how much money they would garner in relation to others at the same position with the level of talent that said player has. In other words, only Belichick would know all of these things in time.
With the cap money he has, I think he would use it to sign Welker and Talib, and then get a bargain free agent Safety, CB, and a DT or two. I think he has enough cap to do this. In the draft, I do believe that Safety, CB, and WR are the biggest needs, and he will go after the BPA. I can't see him spending BIG on Welker or Talib. I can't see him spending big on Goldson, because I know some team will over pay him (though I do think BB will at least pursue him but in the end he will sign with the Bengals. I think Wallace will be overpaid as well.
The only WR in free agency I can see the Pats even getting is Jennings. Veteran WR who has produced well as the #1 WR. I don't think he will be overpaid like Wallace will, and Jennings can run all the routes and has been productive.
There are a lot of bargain bin guys at CB, Safety, WR, and DT that I really cannot see BB over spending on anyone. I think he will likely try and get two potentially very good guys with the first two picks he has.
What are your thoughts here?