NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Trying to figure out the New England Patriots is like this vintage office chair I am sitting in right now. I have sat in this chair everyday for years. I know this chair. Every once in awhile however, I will lean back to admire my work or take notes of the next prospect the Patriots probably won’t draft, and it happens. I keep leaning….and leaning…and leaning. Panic sets in an I flail about trying to regain my balance. I am sure when my Grandfather built this chair 60 plus years ago, he did not follow any safety guidelines and therefore created a chair that can lean back to a near horizontal position. That is why I love this chair but also realize that if I let my guard down, it might kill me. Then there is the Patriots. I have followed this team for the better part of thirty years and yet, just like this old chair, they can send even the longest tenured fan into a state of unrest at any moment. Like many of you, I thought I had a pretty good idea on how the start of free agency would go. I mean, they are so predictable, right? I assumed they would sit out the first few days without out making any headlines except maybe resigning Dont’a Hightower. I also thought they would be mulling over the decision on whether to match another teams offer for Malcolm Butler. Then I leaned back in my chair….
So now what? I suppose the only logic thing to do is to put pen to paper and try to predict the next few days, right? That can’t possibly backfire on me. So, here are a few things I think might still happen and here are some thought on what has already gone down.
- I think Hightower resigns with the Patriots. The more time that passes with Hightower still on the market, the more I think he is coming back to New England. My guess is that they are just working out some details and he should be in the fold sometime today or tomorrow.
- I think either Jimmy Garappolo or Malcolm Butler will be traded. I have gone back and forth on this so much, but I have a hard time thinking Belichick is comfortable going into this draft with no first or second round pick. I think that may actually kill him if he has to wait until the end of Day 2 of the NFL Draft to make a pick. He has always preached that you build your team through the draft and how he hates to have large gaps between picks. Something has to give in order for the Patriots to have some earlier picks.
- I think with the moves the Patriots have made, the Patriots will need to focus on LB, RB, OL, DE and CB in the NFL Draft.
Now, lets talk about what has actually happened.
- Stephone Gillmore: I was shocked when I heard the Patriots were going to sign him. I have always liked Gillmore, but I never would have guessed they were throw that kind of money at a player that was not a player they had drafted and developed. I was assuming that type of contract was going to be going to Butler. If the Patriots do keep Butler at least for this season, their secondary is going to be very special.
- Kony Ealy: Ealy has shown flashes of a player that warranted his original draft slot, but his performance has been inconsistent in his first couple of seasons. The reality of this trade is that the Patriots gave up next to nothing for a player who fills a position of need, is young, and has the athletic traits to develop into a really good player.
- Brandin Cooks: For years, Patriots fans have clamored for the team to get a home run threat to pair with Tom Brady. Well, ask no more. Cooks is an electric receiver who does more than just run go routes. The price tag was steep, but not outragous. Cooks is a proven NFL top tier Wide Receiver and is only 23 years old with 2 years of control at a reasonable cost. Losing the first rounder hurts from a draft perspective, but its tough to argue with the talent they are getting.
- Lawrence Guy: When the Patriots resigned Branch, I thought the team would be satisfied with their Defensive Line. I was wrong. Guy will be a nice rotational player that can get some pressure on the QB. I think his role and his performance could be very close to what Akeem Hicks did for the team a few years ago.
- Dwayne Allen: Allen should have been #1 on this list, but after all the moves that happened over the last couple of days, I kind of forgot about this move to be honest. I actually like this trade a lot. Allen is younger than Bennett and has a Patriots mindset. I think he will fit in well and can produce similarly to Bennett last year. He needs to stay healthy, but even his injury concerns have been a bit overblown.
The Patriots also resigned Harmon, which is a solid resigning that keeps the continuity together at the Safety position. I think all three (McCourty, Chung, Harmon) Safeties have defined roles and keeping those players in those roles is a good thing.
I am waiting a few more days to get back into my reports to see if any other news drops. I want to make sure I am focusing on the right positions when scouting. Enjoy this, because who knows if we will see this type of activity in free agency from the Patriots for awhile.