Who Will the Patriots Go After in Free Agency?

Defense

The Patriots defense is a much different story from their offense. The needs of the team are so pronounced, I’d expect that the majority of their resources (draft picks and money) are used to fortify their shaky defense.

If you look at the defense as a whole, it’s young and still developing. They played better down the stretch, but were just to big a liability throughout the season. They left Tom Brady and the offense with very little margin for error, and that pressure to be perfect really hurt the team in the playoffs.  Each unit of the defense can use upgrades and I expect the team thinks the same thing.

Defensive Line:  

The first order of business for the DL is figuring out if they are going to be playing a 3-4 or 4-3 and what to do with Andre Carter and Mark Anderson.

If there is one name to go hard after for me it would be Arizona FA Calais Campbell.  Campbell is one of the best young 3-4 DE in the league. He can rush the passer, hold up against the run and block kicks.  He will likely be expensive but the Patriots have been unable to replace Richard Seymour since he left, which was a big reason for switching to the 4-3. Getting Campbell would be a huge upgrade to the front four.

If they look to go cheaper guys like Kendall Langford, Cory Redding and Red Bryant are all names to watch. They all can play 3-4 DE and all can move inside. None of them are very good pass rushers but they can hold up against the run. Out of those three Bryant will be the most expensive, but is someone to watch this off season.

Linebackers:

The Patriots seem to have three of the starting LB positions filled with Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Rob Ninkovich. However they need to find some depth linebackers and linebackers who can add some more pass rush.  Coverage among the linebacker unit was a huge weakness on this team and is a priority this off season.

Two names that really stand out to me are San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks and Baltimore’s Jarret Johnson. Both players come from the 3-4 defense and would step in and solidify the LB corps.

 Dallas’ Anthony Spencer is likely to be another name that is brought up. He can rush the passer, but has been underwhelming thoughout his career. I could also see the Patriots going after a 4-3 weakside linebacker and using them as a nickel linebacker to help in pass coverage. Names that come to mind are Minnesota’s Erin Henderson, Seattle’s Leroy Hill and Denver’s Wesley Woodyard-all of whom graded out as some of the better coverage linebackers in football last season.

Cornerbacks:

Signing a CB is never inexpensive, especially a young talented one. The Patriots desperately need at least one more reliable, high quality CB, preferably one who can play man to man coverage.  The two names that immediately come to mind are Atlanta’s Brent Grimes and Tennessee’s Cortland Finnegan.

Grimes was rated the #2 CB in football last year by Pro Football Focus and Finnegan was #3. Both are likely to cost big money, but like we saw in Houston this year, a #1 CB can go a long way to shoring up a secondary. The good news for the Patriots is that it is an extremely deep free agent class.

Corners who are a tier below Grimes and Finnegan but would be an improvement on what we have are Tracy Porter, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross and William Gay. All four of those players bring different styles, but any would go a long way to help this secondary. Thomas is coming off and ACL injury and missed the whole season and Porter had a down here, but shows up in big games.  Some under the radar CBs who might interest the Pats are Cleveland’s Dimitri Patterson, Jacksonville’s William Middleton and Detroit’s Eric Wright.

Safety:

If there is one position where I expect the Patriots to be aggresive this offseason it’s the safety position. The draft has only a handful of decent safety prospects and only one who is expected to go anywhere near the first round. So, if they Patriots want to upgrade the position it’s likely going to come through free agency. The two biggest names available are LaRon Landry and Michael Griffin. Landry especially would be great. He is young, can play the run, and holds up decently in coverage. Landry has had a tough time staying healthy and giving him a big contract could be worrisome.

Griffin is going to leave Tennessee so, he will definitley be available. He is more of a coverage safety and doesn’t like to play in run support as much. Griffin, like Landry, will cost some money. San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson is another name to watch. He was in New England last summer and was apparently pretty close to signing in New England before opting to return to San Francisco. Some underrated guys to watch are Mike Adams, Craig Steltz and Dwight Lowery.

As free agency draws closer I will touch on some sleepers who may interest the Patriots. For now, we can all hope that some of the names discussed here end up in the Blue and Silver. This team is really close and adding a couple explosive players will likely be enough to put it over the top. As always free agency is just one way to improve the team. The Patriots have four picks in the first two rounds and will likely be active on the trade front. Either way you look at it, some new exciting players will be part of the franchise when training camp opens up in August.

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Tags: Brandon Lloyd, Free Agency, Reggie Wayne

25 Responses to “Who Will the Patriots Go After in Free Agency?”

  1. Paul says:

    I would totally love to see Mike Wallace “stolen” from Rapelisberger or Desean Jackson become a true Pats deep threat!! Might as well book a flight to the Super Bowl if this happens!!

  2. chubbs says:

    Biggest needs are safety and wide receiver. I definitely don’t see Branch and Ocho returning so they really need to try to find an outside guy that can occasionally draw double coverage. Lloyd or Wayne would be awesome, but the Steelers are 11 million dollars over the salary cap and there’s no guarantee they’ll retain Mike Wallace–now adding him would make the offense basically unstoppable. I keep hearing the draft class is really weak at safety-fine. Just get somebody, James Ihedigbo might be the worst player in the NFL.

  3. jake says:

    Offense set if :
    wes -resign
    mike wallace – 2nd first round pick
    law firm or other rb like ryan grant – sign for low cost
    let 85 go and keep branch

    Defence ok if:
    Cap blowout
    brenden carr – cb – fa sign
    Clif Arvil or Rob Mathis – de – fa sign
    Rest picks 1st round = safty
    Two 2nd round = cb and wr or another cb or safty

  4. rdf63 says:

    Some options for the Pats and want some feedback. Only one cb and no safeties on the list. I thought about LaRon Landry but with the injuries, can he play?

    1. Jason Jones, DL, Tennessee Titans – Jones is a young penetrating tackle who in the right scheme can be a very good player.
    2. Richard Marshall – CB – good player and 27 years old. Is it worth it to keep drafting cb’s or just get a good FA?
    3. Kendall Langford, DL, Miami Dolphins – Miami is switching to a 4-3 so Langford is no longer a fit.
    5. Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions – Avril is a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Played DE and OLB in college but will be expensive. Is it worth going after him as being part of rebuilding the DL/OLB problems?
    6. John Carlson, TE, Seattle Seahawks –injured last year, good blocker and will be very inexpensive. 6’5″ 250 lbs and young who could be a good backup for Gronk and Hernandez. Did the Pats lack someone like him in the Superbowl?
    7. Channing Crowder, OLB, retired and didn’t play last year but wants to play again. Interesting idea, 29 years old and not a risk.

  5. gigs says:

    What about Peyton Hillis? Imagine having Gronk, Hernandez, Welker and Wayne lined up outside with Hillis in the backfield.

  6. Nick says:

    I would love either Lloyd or Wayne. I think they would both fit the Patriots offensive scheme well and really make any opposing defense pick their poison. I hope they hold on to The Law Firm. He might lack speed but he always falls foward and never fumbles. The runningback core is solid and will only get better but all the pieces need to be maintained.
    Campbell is a great player but i dont see him leaving the desert. Red Bryant reminds me of a Ty Warren type player whos takes up space and collaspes the pocket. The pass rusher weve been waiting for will have to come through the draft. The crop is deep this year and hopefully BB finds someone he actually likes. The secondary needs a complete makover. Corner will be addressed in the draft as always but safety will be the most addressed postion on defense. I would love to see Landry in a Pats uniform, but if he goes elsewhere, I could see BB drafting 2 safeties in the draft similar to the past drafts with two TE and RB. Mark Barron is the best safety and comes from a complex system similar to the Pats. Also George Iloka out of Boise State could be a BB favorite with his ability to play both safety and slot corner. Plus his 6’3 frame is an added bonus.

  7. Lundahl says:

    What’s a deep threat ? I keep hearing that slogan “replacing Randy Moss”. Ok, granted is a rocket. But now everyone in the league is a deep threat. Really ? So there’s 30 WRs in the league who can run down the field 60 yards and catch the ball with one hand ?

  8. Lundahl says:

    “30 years old and the Patriots might want someone a little bit younger.” And how old was Randy Moss in 2007 ? 25 ? Idem for Corey Dillon ? That’s a weird point, not sure why you wrote it. Lloyd will come, I have a logical feeling he will. And why wouldn’t he ? Seriously, what’s for him staying with the Rams ? Nothing ! I def see us picking a vet running back, and guess who I have in my mind ? LT. I know I know, he’s bashed Coach B, he’s a lame cry baby and all he does is talk about ‘class” and “respect”. But think about it:he’s at the end of the rope, he has no ring, he’ll take anything.

  9. Ken W says:

    If the Pats were able to get Brandon Lloyd, LaRon Landry, and trade for Asante Samuel they would be the favorite to win the Superbowl next year. I would be happy with one of these guys and a couple other 2nd tier guys.

    • Lundahl says:

      Landry is an injury prone and a punk off the field. Samuel certainly not for a draft pick.

      • rdf63 says:

        The latest report abot LaRon Landry is he won’t be ready to play until mid season next year. His achiles injury has caused him to miss 16 of the last 33 games. He has a ton of talent but nobody knows if he can actually play.

  10. qwerty says:

    This infatuation with replacing Seymour gets kind of rediculous. Seymour is a one of a kind player that rarely comes along. Except for injuries, the front defensive 7 played well. It was the secondary which gave up so much yardage between the 20 yards lines. Fix that and the offense won’t have to score 30+ points to win.

    The Patriots do have the ammunition to add one great DL player. They should if the talent is there.

    As I said last year numerous times, the Patriots need at least 3 quality CB’s in case of injury. They also need another Safety who ideally could play both Safety positions since Chung has tendency to get injured.

    As far as WR, ATL got Julio Jones and they never made it to Super Bowl. One great WR is not a panacea. The more receivers Brady can distribute the ball to throughout season, the better. It is harder to game plan against. Look at New Orleans as a model.

    If Dowling had been playing the Superbowl, I think Manningham would have had greater difficulty catching that pass.

  11. Mike says:

    What are the chances Mario Williams sees free agency? He is coming off a fairly serious injury. The defense played well without him and franchising him would cost something in the range of a $23million cap hit I believe. Plus the Texans have Chris Myers new contract to deal with. That would be a dream pick up. Probably too hopeful.

  12. Bruschi54 says:

    Signing Landry would bring a whole new level of toughness to the defense, he should be the priority on D if the price is not to crazy. Campbell has also really developed in Arizona, and is really a well rounded, big young DE. Brooks has flown under the radar a little with the 49ers because of some bigger names on the defense, but he is a big OLB that can really get to the QB off the edge.
    I agree that Reggie Wayne might be the best option on a 2 year deal, he can still play at a high level and would allow the team to draft 1-2 WR’s fairly early in the draft & develop.
    I would look to trade Hoyer before Mallet if possible, Mallet is very intriguing as the successor to the throne if BB has his head screwed on straight. A couple of shrewd moves & draft picks and we could be a lot stronger in 2012.

  13. mARK DAVIS says:

    YOU DISCUSSED FREE AGENCY AND THE DRAFT. WHAT ABOUT POSSIBLE TRADES? WOULD THE PATS PACKAGE RYAN MALLET TO GET A WR, DB OR LB? THERE IS ALSO THE POSSIBILITY OF USING MALLET TO MOVE UP THE DRAFT LADDER. LETS FACE IT, AS LONG AS BRADY IS AROUND, BACKUPS ARE JUST THAT.

    • qwerty says:

      package Mallet … are you a jets fan

      yeah, that’s right, give up a potential franchise QB for cheap

      we may as well package gronk and hernandez for a long snapper

      mallet showed he had real talent in the preseason

      if brady gets injured or when he steps down (2015), the idea that “backups are just that” is being naive. brady will no longer be patriots starter after 2014 season. brady wants to play until he is 73 years old. his mind says one thing but his body won’t agree with him.

    • Lundahl says:

      We won’t give the Jets Mallett. Your QB stinks, tough luck, you should of known the golden rule to never draft a USC quarterback.

  14. JoeT says:

    I agree with you. I think Bill will fire this year in free agency, upon whatever issue is not addressed in the draft. I think we are more likely to draft a CB and not sign one; but LaRon Landry is an interesting piece for the pats, a Rodney Harrison caliber safety again, but this time he is younger and faster.

    I hope we sign LaRon or Griffin, or sign a deep threat WR

  15. MikeLoyko says:

    Yes, Goldson signed a 1 year deal.. Lloyd isn’t going to get a huge contract. I will likely be a 3-4 year deal worth 5-6 million per.. something like the Patriots gave to Donte Stallworth years ago, with opt outs..I could definitely see something like that

    • Pats Fan says:

      Mike, what do you think of Stanford Routt and Bryant McFadden? Both were just released and could be good pickups for the Pats.

      • rdf63 says:

        Brayn McFadden may be a good pickup only as a backup cornerback. He lost his starting job in Pittsburgh but is a Belicheck type of player. Routt is not a long term answer. the Raiders just released Routt because of the money and he didn’t play very well last year. Teams like the Vikings are already talking to Routt and they are dumb enough to offer him a big salary that the Pats are smart enough not to ofer.

  16. Phil says:

    Did Dashon Goldson sign a 1 year deal with San Francisco last summer?

  17. TD says:

    It’s not likely that BB have more than 1 guy with a big cap hit at any 1 position.

    If he signs Welker to a big contract, subsequent WR signings will have to be smaller which may leave out Lloyd and some of the others. Wayne may come at a lower price for a couple of years.

  18. Larry says:

    Remember the Pats have two LB’s with potential Markell Carter (practice squad) and Jeff Tarpinnian (IR) who will be in camp and have the benifit of a full off season program……………..

    • MJP says:

      Two things about WR;

      – first is that Ocho has much more guaranteed money coming in 2012, the cap hit would be about $5million, he will be on the roster and will get a full off-season to finally learn the system properly.

      –second is that you forgot about Marques Colston at WR, younger than Wayne and probably a discounted option compared to VJ.



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