The Patriots are in for a pretty challenging off-season. New England has several free agents and not a lot of money to spend. In addition, there is a glaring need for another pass rusher and another for a big d-back. The tight end position has gone from a weapon to a weakness. So what do the Patriots do?
1. Get healthy. The defense was looking much improved last year (not great but much improved) when the players started dropping like flies. It’s the NFL, everybody loses key pieces but this seemed excessive.
2. Find a bull rusher – preferably from the middle. This would allow Ninkovich to be a contain guy, Chandler Jones to get some help and allow Wilfork (get to him later) to get some rest on third down and long. Time for BB to look for a specialist here. The guy doesn’t have to be an all-around player.
3. The D-backs – seemingly a problem every year since Asante Samuel left after dropping the Super Bowl winning easy interception in 2008. This one is tough. Talib is going to be expensive AND he gets hurt a lot. I think you have to sign him though. We saw what the Denver Peyton’s did to the Patriot D without him there and that wasn’t the only time (think Flacco last year).
4. Free Agents – They are letting Spikes walk – good move. Talib we discussed. Edelman – overpay a little. You can’t franchise him he is not worth that kind of money. Wendell, the center. He is a good center. He would be missed but hey, he’s a center. Fair offer.
5. Cap creativity – extend Wilfork. If the Patriots don’t extend him then they are looking at an 11.6M cap hit for a guy who will be 33 in November coming off of Achilles surgery. Obviously test his health first. You have to take a look at what to do with both Gregory and Kelly. Is Kelly worth $2m at his age coming off of knee surgery? Gregory looks like an obvious cut at $3m. Not a lot left to look at here.
6. The receivers. Rock meets hard place. Let the young guys play. What are the other options here? They may end up cutting Amendola just to save on the 2015 cap.
7. Can we agree that Josh McDaniels brings just as much to the Patriots as he did to St. Louis and Denver? Since coming back to New England McDaniels has brought the team Tebow, a way over-paid Brandon Lloyd and guess who Amendola played under? Operation Fruit of the Poisonous Tree has come home to roost. They won’t do it but Joshy should go bye bye.
8. Keep Brady upright. As long as you have a healthy Brady and Belichick coaching you are a playoff team and have a shot at something better