By: Russ Goldman
NFL Free Agency began at 4PM EST, and the anticipation of this period had been building since the moment the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants. I convinced myself that the Patriots would be aggressive out of the box, and I should have known better. It might only be less than a day but, I am already frustrated by the lack of movement from the Patriots.
There have been off-seasons that the Patriots have been aggressive from the very beginning. Last season the team made several moves early, and it was an indication to this fan that the Patriots felt the urgency to upgrade and build up the roster.
In 2007, I felt the same urgency from the Patriots as they signed players like Adalius Thomas, Dante Stallworth, and Wes Welker. They also made a trade during the draft for Randy Moss. There was no doubt in my mind that they were driven to win now.
However, there have also been off-seasons that the Patriots have sat back for awhile, and waited for the market to settle down. I understand the business end as they are looking for value. However, as a fan looking in, this is not the season to have this approach.
The Patriots were very close to winning a Super Bowl, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t contend for a ring the next three to four seasons. However, no matter how much I try to avoid the subject, the window is closing.
Tom Brady will be 35 years old this season as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. I feel the Patriots are only a few players away from a team that can win a Super Bowl. I am frustrated that it seems the urgency to act now is just not there.
I should have seen this coming as they almost never follow up an aggressive off-season with the same approach next season. Now, I know there is so much more time in the off-season to upgrade, but what upsets me is the tone and approach they are taking.
The Patriots reportedly had around $17.8 million of cap space available when free agency began. I feel they have enough to make the moves necessary to upgrade the 2012 Patriots.
The number one need I feel is at wide receiver, and it is not a “deep threat”. They need a receiver that can run all the routes and knows the offense. There is a player in free agency that fills that void and it is Brandon Lloyd, and reportedly he is meeting with San Francisco today.
Lloyd has come out openly stating he would be interested in playing for the Patriots. Lloyd has a relationship with Josh McDaniels, and has discussed his good relationship with the Patriots offensive coordinator. Where is the urgency from the Patriots? Unless they have another option in mind for this position, to me it is foolish not to do whatever it takes to bring this player to Foxboro.
The Patriots also have needs at safety and outside linebacker. There are several players that would be good fits for the Patriots at safety. Players I hope the Patriots look at for this position include LaRon Landry, Jordan Babineaux, and Melvin Bullitt.
Outside linebacker could be more difficult to fill as it is highly unlikely the Patriots will attempt to bring in Mario Williams. The Patriots hopefully will re-sign either or both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson to the roster. If they cannot get those players back, there are options in players John Abraham and Matt Roth.
The Patriots also should seriously look at the offensive line. Right now they do not have a starting center on the roster as Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen are both free agents. I am hoping they will bring one of them back.
The Patriots do not have so many positions of need, but adding a few key players could take them over the top. It is hard as a fan that I feel the urgency to act now, and it doesn’t seem the team I follow feels the same way.
The Patriots can upgrade in free agency, and also build for the future in the draft. You can have your short term, and long term goals taken care of.
I am sure the Patriots will bring in players that will help the team, but I think right out of the gate, they are sending the wrong message. The Patriots are so close to getting over the hurdle with a few more pieces.
Why not admit that the window is closing on Brady, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to get that fourth ring? The Patriots can do that by their actions, and that means taking advantage of free agency right now, rather than sitting back and looking for a bargain.