The New England Patriots will probably be sitting out for most of the first day of free agency as they watch crazy, desperate teams sign crazy, desperate contracts with players that should absolutely take advantage of that desperation.
The Patriots will wait. They will watch these teams sign away their future as these front offices make last-ditch attempts at not getting fired. And then they will pounce.
Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots have "let it be known it's in the market for a receiver, tight end and running back," but they've sat out and watched the top players leave the open market.
Running backs Matt Forte (Jets), Doug Martin (Buccaneers), Lamar Miller (Texans), and Chris Ivory (Jaguars) are done. Wide receivers Travis Benjamin (Chargers), Marvin Jones (Lions), and most probably Mohamed Sanu (Falcons), even though he claims he'll visit the Patriots, are off the market. Tight ends Antonio Gates (Chargers), Ladarius Green (expected to sign with the Steelers), and Dwayne Allen (Colts) are as good as gone.
That means that the top players across the board are locked up and the Patriots will be left to pick up the remaining pieces at heavily discounted prices- and that works for Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio. And don't worry- here are some good players that are still available.
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson: While the Herald's Jeff Howe thinks that the Broncos will just match whatever Anderson is offered, that doesn't mean that the Patriots shouldn't try. The Patriots are one of four teams interested. Worst case is that Anderson goes back to the Broncos at a higher contract than what they would have paid if the Patriots didn't try.
Texans RB Arian Foster: Foster is often injured, but he's a tremendous talent when available. He's coming off a torn Achilles which greatly impacts his value, but is expected to be ready before camp. While he will be turning 30 years old, he has averaged 12 games and 1,398 yards from scrimmage over the past six seasons.
Saints RB Khiry Robinson: Bill Parcells compared Robinson to Hall of Famer Curtis Martin. Robinson is returning from a broken leg, but should be ready for camp. At 6'0, 220 lbs with rushing, catching, and blocking ability, he's exactly what the Patriots want and he'll be cheap.
Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount: Ol' reliable, eh?
Dolphins WR Rishard Matthews: Matthews has been the quietest of the big ticket players, but he's still out there. If Travis Benjamin signed a deal for roughly $6 million per season, then look for Matthews to see a similar deal from a few teams- and look for the Patriots to offer around $4 million per year.
Giants WR Rueben Randle: Randle hasn't generated much interested at all, but he's a viable outside receiver that could be a reasonable contributor on the outside.
49ers WR Anquan Boldin: The Patriots are looking for veterans and maybe Boldin can be a one-year attitude adjustment for the receiving corps that looks like they need a jolt, just like how Brandon Browner changed the trajectory of the secondary.
Packers WR James Jones: Jones will be 32, but he's coming off a 50 catch, 890 yard, 8 touchdown season. He might only be able to thrive with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, but perhaps he could find some magic with Tom Brady.
Vikings WR Mike Wallace: While the Ravens are interested (of course, he's a perfect Joe Flacco Defensive Pass Interference Machine), Wallace has been hampered in recent years by a quarterback that can't throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field. He could very easily take on the routes ran by LaFell at the end of last season.
Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse: Why not grab the guy that almost Kearsed the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX? He's gotten better every year and can attack every level of the defense. If the Patriots can't get Matthews, Kearse should be on their short list.
Patriots WR Brandon LaFell: Ol' reliable looking reasonable after all of these contracts, eh?
Colts TE Coby Fleener: While the Saints are interested in his services, Fleener and Rob Gronkowski would be a fantastic duo. Fleener will likely join an offense where he can thrive as a #1 or #2 option in an offense. (edit: Fleener has signed with the Saints)
Rams TE Jared Cook: Cook has never been able to play with a good quarterback, but he's managed to average roughly 40 yards per game for the past five seasons. He's arguably a more consistent and more athletic version of Scott Chandler.
Jaguars TE Clay Harbor: The Patriots are apparently interested, and Harbor is an athletic freak that hasn't had a chance to shine. The Patriots are really looking for a fullback-type blocker that can actually add value in the offense as a receiver and Harbor fits the mold.
Cardinals TE Jermaine Gresham: The Bengals selected Gresham in the 1st round of the same draft where the Patriots took Gronkowski. Gresham could join as a viable #2 tight end that can offer blocking ability and some value in the passing game.
Patriots TE Scott Chandler: Ol' reliab- no, wait, not happening.