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Patriots Receive Top 2014 Free Agency Grades

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Bill Belichick the GM put in a quality effort for the 2014 season.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

So the Jets have acquired Brandon Marshall for a 5th round pick. The Bills traded for LeSean McCoy. The Dolphins are confident that they'll land Ndamukong Suh. The AFC East competition is looking up.

The Patriots lost Vince Wilfork and no one knows what's happening with Devin McCourty or Darrelle Revis. I guess they signed long snapper Tyler Ott?

Don't panic. Seriously, calm down. Remember last season when the Broncos outbid the Patriots for Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib? And remember when the Patriots signed afterthoughts Brandon LaFell and Ryan Wendell? And then he drafted a defensive tackle without ACLs in the first round, a back-up quarterback in the second round, and then traded away Logan Mankins?

Bill Belichick has a plan. More often than not it works out.

Grantland's Bill Barnwell looked back over the 2014 Free Agency period to see how every team came away after one season. The Patriots received his top marks.

New England Patriots

Re-signed: Julian Edelman, Michael Hoomanawanui, Ryan Wendell

Arrived: Darrelle Revis, Patrick Chung, Brandon Browner, Will Smith

Departed: Aqib Talib, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher

The champs, perhaps not coincidentally, end up with Denver at the top of the free-agency charts. Replacing Talib with Revis worked to perfection, as Bill Belichick naturally managed to get the most out of the most talented cornerback he’s ever coached. Browner provided a physical presence across from Revis and allowed the Patriots to play the most aggressive man coverage they’ve used since the glory days of Ty Law, while Chung was a surprisingly important part as a run-stifling safety.

And while most of the additions were improvements for the defense, it’s worth remembering that nobody in the league was willing to give Edelman even $1 million in free agency two years ago; he signed a four-year, $17 million deal last offseason, and the league’s best secondary couldn’t find a way to stop Edelman in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Grade: A

It makes sense that the Patriots ranked at the top because pretty much everything Belichick touched last season turned into gold. The Akeem Ayers acquisition was amazing. Alan Branch was a crucial signing. LeGarrette Blount's return was the work of a devious imagination.

It'll be fun to see if the Patriots can top last year's free agency period. It'll be very difficult to do.