NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Free agency is five hours old and there has been plenty of activity to keep NFL fans glued to their Twitter feeds. The New England Patriots, however, have been dead silent. It should come as no surprise, as the Patriots let the market settle, determine the value of players and then jump in head first with plenty of cap room. The same can’t be said Miami, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Indianapolis all of whom have been making multiple moves today.
Here are my thoughts on day one of free agency (so far).
- Wes Welker is unofficially an unrestricted free agent, with news that talks have broken down with the Patriots. This is negotiations is going to be a roller coaster with both sides leveraging the other. I have said for two years that I think Wes Welker is back with the Patriots and I’m not backing down now. He’ll be back.
- It should be viewed as a good sign that all of the Patriots “big” free agents made it through the initial phase without being scooped up. The Patriots are still working with Talib and the longer he sits out there the better chance they have to resign him. I am unsure of what will happen with Sebastian Vollmer, but OT holes are getting filled quickly. Indianapolis (Cherilus), Bears (Bushrod), St. Louis (Long?) have filled their holes without any news from Seabass. When the musical chairs stop he could be left out. I still don’t expect him back, unless it’s for less than 6.5 million per year.
- The Miami Dolphins got a lot better today and spent a ton of money. The Mike Wallace signing was expected, but they pulled off a shocker signing Dannell Ellerbe for 5 years and 35 million. The Dolphins also signed OLB Phillip Wheeler to a 5 year deal. The Ellerbe deal is a great move but, they overpaid big time IMO. Jeff Ireland has nothing to lose. He knows he needs to win this season or he’s gone, so he’s going all out.
- Cleveland has made two solid moves to improve their front seven. Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant are both good solid NFL players. Neither are worth what they were paid, but they make the Browns better and help in their transition to the 3-4 defense. I like that they are showing some restraint and making calculated signings that fit the teams personality.
- Most Puzzling Signing of the Day: Indianapolis signing Erik Walden to a 4 year 16 million dollar deal. Walden was a -25.4 last season according to PFF. When watching GB last year I thought Walden was extremely inconsistent. Giving him that kind of deal and projecting him to start opposite Robert Mathis is a risky gamble going forward.
- Underrated Signing of the Day: Indianapolis signing CB Greg Toler for 3 years and 15 million dollars. I think Toler is a very under-appreciated corner and gives Indy a #2 corner to play opposite Vonte Davis. In doing so Toler set the CB market giving us a read on what the Patriots may have to spend on their #2-#3 corners.
- Philadelphia has made a bunch of smaller “team building” type moves today. The two biggest signings are probably signing TE/FB James Casey who will have his role expanded in Chip Kelly’s offense and signing CB Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher is another one of those under the radar signings and he will be given a chance to start at one cornerback spot.
- Jeff Fisher continues to sign players off his mediocre Tennessee Titan teams. Today, the Rams signed TE Jared Cook to a long term deal. While the official numbers aren’t yet known, it’s sure to be an over payment. Cook is ultra-talented and ulta-athletic, but the production doesn’t match the talent.
- I really like the way the cornerback and pass rush markets are setting up for the Patriots. A few teams in direct competition with the Patriots for corners filled their needs today. That leaves the Patriots with plenty of their options available for a reasonable price. The market is absolutely flooded with veteran corners and more became available today. Nnamdi Asomugha, Antoine Winfield and Deangelo Hall making the supply out way the demand. For the corners who have signed the big money isn’t there, and that will help the Patriots who are likely to sign at least two corners. three if Aqib Talib goes elsewhere. Names still available to watch in the next 48 hours – Keenan Lewis, Asomugha, Winfield, Brice McCain, Chris Houston, Derek Cox, Antoine Cason and Cary Williams. Take a good look at those names, there is a good chance at least one is in Foxboro next year.
- In terms of pass rushers, I was told weeks ago that it was one area the Patriots would be very active. To this point none of the top pass rushers are off the market and that bodes well for the Pats. Michael Bennett, Dwight Freeney, Osi Umenyiora, John Abraham and Cliff Avril are all still available. Out of that group Freeney makes the most sense, but don’t count out a splash here, as the Patriots had their sights set on Michael Johnson before he got tagged.
- Danny Amendola would be crazy to sign before Wes Welker. It’s in his best interest to see if somehow a team other than the Patriots sign Welker and that would open the door for Amendola in NE. It would also create a ton of leverage for the receiver with the market shallow with talent.
- The Bills cut ties with Ryan Fitzpatrick today. One year ago on this day everyone was ready to proclaim the Bills as a sleeper playoff team. The need to find a long term solution at QB before they start dreaming about the playoffs.
- The Patrick Chung era in Foxboro is over. It’s disappointing because I had really high hopes for him early in his career. Whether it was his role, his health, the scheme or just his overall football instincts, who knows, but he regressed big time over the last two seasons.
- Speaking of former 2009 Patriots 2nd round picks, Darius Butler signed a two year deal with Indianapolis. If the Patriots lose Sebastian Vollmer, they will have nothing to show for FOUR 2009 2nd round picks. That hurts.
- All is quiet on the Greg Jennings front.
- The Ravens have taken a major hit in the last 48 hours, losing Paul Kruger, Anquan Boldin and Dannell Ellerbe. They are still expected to lose Cary Williams and possibly Ed Reed. They will have a tough time just winning the division next year. But, that’s what you get when your QB wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
- Charles Woodson will be visiting the 49ers on Wednesday. The 49ers were a rumored (media driven) landing spot for Ed Reed. While it’s very quiet on that front I still believe Ed Reed is a real possibility for the Patriots.
Stay tuned to NEPD if more news breaks we will have our reaction.