It’s that time of year again. Sundays are lame, and the only thing football fans have to look forward to is the slim chance their team scoops one of the few top free agents that hit the market. As a die-hard Patriot fan, I don’t expect Dolphin like moves from my team.
Upper management has the salary cap by balls and refuses to overpay any player, no matter the need at any position. The Patriots are known for their head scratching moves, like dumping Jamie Collins mid-season, or not re-signing Revis following the 2014 season. But as any Patriot fan will tell you, it always is and will always be “Believe in Bill.” The head coach always seems to be one step ahead of every other coach in every facet of the game, including free agency. Year in and year out he lets high profile players walk in order to sign that value player. The guy that will not make the flashy play, but will do his job. This is why I am extremely surprised about the way free agency is going in New England so far.
First of all, it looks like Patriots will somehow be able to keep their core defensive players, including free agent Donta Hightower, restricted free agent Malcolm Butler, and newly contracted Allen Branch. Not only is the defense most likely staying together, they added a terrific playmaker in Stephon Gilmore. The pro-bowler is a stout lock down corner that is widely recognized as a top corner in the league. What’s even more surprising is the contract he received, 5 years 65 million, with 40 million guaranteed. The Patriots just don’t spend like this.
On top of this signing, New England managed to trade for the speedy wideout in Brandin Cooks out of New Orleans. Cooks had a monster year last year with over 1000 yards receiving. He was scooped by the Patriots in exchange for a first round (32) and third round (103) pick. The initial reaction by Patriot fans is a little too optimistic if you ask me. Remember, Cooks comes from the pass-happy New Orleans Saints offense with a hall of fame QB throwing to him. I expect Cooks to accept his new role and the “Do your job” mentality, which means a small decline in his numbers. Needless to say, he will still be a major part of the offense and is a serious deep threat which they haven’t had in years.
From initial analysis, it looks like New England is on track for another AFC title run and Super Bowl appearance. A few more key signings include former Colt’s tight end Dwayne Allen and Carolina defensive end Kony Ealy. Both players with huge upside in my opinion. I would have never expected this type of off season from the Patriots. I believe with 3-5 years left in the Belichick-Brady era, Robert Kraft is going all in on as many titles he can get his hands on.