The thing I get a kick out of about the NFL free agency period is how everyone gets so worked up about just average players. This includes most of the teams themselves.
I mean, honestly, there have only been a handful of stud players….Edge James for example, who’ve truly changed hands. Every year this happens, teams go out and go wild, sign this player or that player….it rarely works. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls, but only prior to one of those did they really sign any top free agents. Who did the Steelers sign before last year? No one in particular. Who did Tampa Bay sign prior to their Super Bowl? I suppose you could say Simeon Rice, but that was 2 offseasons before. The Super Bowl season was his second year in Tampa. Besides that, that was a team built slowly over time for the most part.
But look at the list of guys changing hands. Will Witherspoon? Good player. Not a difference maker. Anthony Weaver? Is he even as good as Ty Warren? And he’s the 15th best free agent according to ESPN. Antwan Randle-El? Blah. Kevin Shaffer? Larry Triplett? Justin Hartwig? C’mon.
There are plenty of good players out there, but just because they are free agents doesn’t mean they’re any better than guys already on the roster. They just happen to be available so there is a certain excitement about them. And teams seem to fall for it too and go overboard to sign guys that, in the end, won’t make a dimes bit of difference to 31 of the 32 teams. And all the excitement will be gone.
There are some good guys out there the Pats will end up getting on the cheap because they are “out” this particular offseason rather than “in”. Is Keyshawn Johnson worse than Joe Jurevicius? I’d say he’s better. Yet one was a hot property, the other a released has-been, according to conventional wisdom. If the Pats end up signing him for a million bucks with incentives, weren’t they smart for waiting? What if Eric Moulds comes loose (and he almost certainly will)? Is he worse at a bargain rate than Jurevicius…or even David Givens for that matter?
People just need to calm down. 95% of the guys signing this last week are not difference makers and the cap isn’t going up that much next year. By being smart this year, the Pats will be able to re-sign Seymour and Branch, sign some decent guys at a low rate and be well-positioned for next year while other teams cap out at the new cap this year.
In Belichick I trust.
There are several other free agents out there who could improve the Pats:
At cornerback, Will Allen is a talented 27 year old corner and former first round pick with plenty of starting experience for the Giants. He’d help the Pats defensive backfield. Jerry Azumah from the Bears may be another decent addition, as well as Deshea Townshend from Pittsburgh. Both have starting experience on good defenses and still have a few years left at their peak. Andre Dyson is another guy who’d fit into this category. Charles Woodson, if he can come at an affordable rate, would be an excellent addition.
At linebacker, Julian Peterson would be a great playmaking addition who could really thrive in the Patriots defense. He’ll be expensive, but could be a player the Pats have targeted. Other linebacker role players they may look at include Rocky Boiman, a solid special teamer from Tennessee with some starting experience. Frank Chamberlain is another similar player from Tennessee who may help. Sam Cowart is a guy familiar to Pats fans from his days in Buffalo and with the New York Jets. He could be a decent addition if he comes for low money. Tony Gilbert is a restricted guy who would cost a 6th round choice, but has some potential.
At wide receiver, as mentioned above Keyshawn Johnson would be a nice addition. But Josh Reed from Buffalo could also help. He is still young, has had some production, was a great college player and would get better coaching and QB play in New England. He is a potential steal. Randy Hymes from Baltimore and Chris Horn from Kansas City may be two others the Pats will want to look at. KC could match any offer on Horn, however.
On the offensive line, Mike Pearson from Jacksonville is a versatile, athletic tackle with talent and starting experience and could provide nice insurance. Tutan Reyes and Seth McKinney could provide decent guard depth if they lose Stephen Neal.
Well, that’s it. There are plenty of more intriguing names of guys who could help out. I expect you’ll see the Pats begin to sign a few in the next week or two.