The football gods cooked up a cataclysmic thunderstorm this season, trying to knock the New England Patriots off their throne, but to no avail. Despite losing their top receiver, Wes Welker, to free agency, despite losing their versatile tight-end Aaron Hernandez to a murder controversy, despite losing five key players to injury, and despite another injury-riddled season for Rob Gronkowski and Aqib Talib, the Patriots retaliated in the Patriot Way, plugging in player after player and pulling off comeback after comeback to ultimately retrieve their AFC East crown.
Now, in the offseason, the Patriots are again struck with another thunderstorm: free agency. There are a number of decent players on the Patriots roster that are up to test the market this offseason, but nobody really cares about special teams player Dane Fletcher and long snapper Danny Aiken.
I admit, these players are good at what they do, and I would love to have them back on the team, but I have a couple of other players in mind that the Patriots should deal with first.
Aqib Talib is by far New England’s most valuable defensive player. Even though that the Patriots’ defense finished last in the division in yards allowed, I’m not all that worried. Because of injuries their defense was never fully healthy, but when they were they were promising. Through the first six games of the season, the defense was 36% on third down, allowed fewer 230 passing yards per game, and allowed just 16 points per game.
Talib was a key component to that defense, shutting down talented receivers like Vincent Jackson and Jimmy Graham. I understand that he has been injury prone in his time here in New England, but I believe he’s worth the risk, because honestly, they don’t have anyone to replace him. don’t believe me? Just take a look back to the AFC Championship game after he limped off the field how Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas picked the Patriots secondary.
After the loss of leading receiver Wes Welker, The Patriots weren’t really sure how they were going to replace him. They thought signing Danny Amendola would be a start, but after he went down in the first game of the season they had to start looking elsewhere. However, they didn’t have to look too far- the next Wes Welker has been on the roster all along, waiting in the shadows, and his name is Julian Edelman.
Year after year the Patriots plug in player after player, and someone always steps up. This year that player was Julian Edelman. In the beginning of the season Tom Brady seemed flustered trying to get comfortable with his new receivers, but they don’t call him Tom Terrific for nothing. He eventually formed a tight bond with Edelman, which had Patriots fans asking “Welker who?”
Edelman finished the season with 1,056 receiving yards on 101 receptions and six touchdowns. I expect the Patriots to sign him. If they don’t, then Robert Kraft has some explaining to do.
In Greek mythology, the Cerberus is a three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades, and if the New England Patriots sign LeGarrette Blount then they will have their very own Cerberus in the backfield. This season the Patriots finished 9th in rushing yard per game.
Along with Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen, New England can form a deadly combination. Ridley is the finesse back who breaks for big gains, of course if he learns to hold on to the ball., Vereen is the receiving back who comes out of the backfield and puts on his best Kevin Faulk impersonation, and Blount is the power back who takes the ball rams it down defense’s throats.
Even though most NFL announcers have a hard time pronouncing his name, Michael Hoomanawanui, AKA “Hooman” is a key piece to New England’s winning formula. With the loss of Aaron Hernandez, and the questionable health of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are in need of stability in the tight end position. He only started in 10 of the 13 games he played in, and he only had one touchdown on 12 receptions, but he possesses the skills of a great run blocker, and despite what his numbers say, he has the versatility to produce in the passing game. I would like to see him back in a Patriots uniform, at least until they find someone better to fill the spot of Hernandez.
Now, I’m not a Mathematician, and I don’t try to be. I know it’s going to be difficult signing all these players and at the same time signing other players to improve the team. I know Talib is probably going to want big cornerback money, and Edleman is defiantly deserving of Amendola money, but I have faith in Robert Kraft; he hasn’t let me down yet.
I know I didn’t mention linebacker Bradon Spikes, but it’s because I have come to accept the fact that he’s probably not coming back. I know he’s a former second-round pick and he’s coming off consecutive 100-tackle seasons, but I just don’t think he’ll be back.
Spikes has had some trouble off the field, and he didn’t make an appearance in a couple of team meetings this season, and that type of stuff just doesn’t fly in New England. The Patriots will dump a player if he does not conform to the Patriot way: just ask Randy Moss.
Losing a player like Spikes would usually be a tremendous tragedy to a defense, he’s tough, a good tackler and hole buster, and most importantly he definitely has some screws loose, which is always a good thing on the football field, but with the rise of Jimmy Collins and his ability to play in coverage I feel a lot safer letting him go.