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Free agent signings - losing our touch?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PromisedLand, Feb 27, 2007.

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  1. PromisedLand

    PromisedLand Virtual Internet Person

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    Are BB/SP losing their touch in free agency? Read on, and then let us know what you think...

    Mike Reiss did a great list of our top 10 and bottom 10 free agent signings of the BB era. As I looked them over I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that all of the 10 best pickups occured before the 2003 season or earlier. In fact, all but 2 occured before the 2001 season which led to our first Super Bowl. The list of worst signings, by contrast, has a lot more recent signings.

    Here's my breakdown:

    Top 10 list, with year of signing

    10. David Patten - 2001
    9. Otis Smith - 2000
    8. Bobby Hamilton - 2000
    7. Larry Izzo - 2001
    6. Joe Andruzzi - 2000
    5. Roman Phifer - 2001
    4. Antowain Smith - 2001
    3. Rosevelt Colvin - 2003
    2. Rodney Harrison - 2003
    1. Mike Vrabel - 2001

    Summary: 3 in 2000, 5 in 2001, 2 in 2003.
    Average year of signing = (2000*3 + 2001*5 + 2003*2)/10 = 2001.1.

    It is also worth noting that only two of the ten (Colvin and Harrison) were higher priced, sought after players. If you take them out of the equation you have 8 of the top 10 free agent signings in the BB era which all occured in 2000 or 2001.

    Bottom 10 list, with year of signing

    10. Eric Warfield - 2006
    9. Antonio Langham - 2000
    8. Panos/Stai/Tylski - 2001/2/3 IIRC (Reiss didn't say)
    7. David Terrell - 2005
    6. Steve Martin - 2002
    5. Chad Brown - 2005
    4. Fred McCrary - 2003
    3. Rodney Bailey - 2004
    2. Monty Beisel - 2005
    1. Donald Hayes - 2002

    Summary: (counting Panos/Stai/Tylski as one signing in the median year of 2002) 1 in 2000, 3 in 2002, 1 in 2003, 1 in 2004, 3 in 2005, and 1 in 2006.

    Average year of signing = (2000*1 + 2002*3 + 2003*1 + 2004*1 + 2005*3 + 2006*1)/10 = 2003.4.

    Comparing the above, the numbers definitely show that the top ten signings occurred early in BB/SP's reign, whereas the bottom ten have been almost uniformly distributed over their tenure.

    So what does this mean? The success rate is definitely way down, but for what reason?

    Some possibilities:

    BB/SP have lost their touch.

    There are too many teams now trying to emulate the Patriots success, and so competing for the same kind of player.

    The pool of former BB players (Phifer/Hamilton/O-T-I-S has gone dry).

    Discuss amongst yourselves...;)
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  2. patsox23

    patsox23 Rookie

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    Probably a combo of all three - along with extremely good luck in 2001. Not sure how much BB/Pioli have lost their touch, but it's possible and the evidence suggests that, to some degree, I guess. I also think there is a higher talent level on the team now, so for guys who don't pick stuff up very quickly, there's no room or time to learn on the job.
  3. Gumby

    Gumby Rookie

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    #11 Jersey

    1. Definitely the increase of 3-4 teams has had an impact.

    2. Also you have to say that the demolition of the salary cap as we knew it in the last 2 years had a huge impact on the quality and quantity of FAs available in 2005-6 offseason. Teams just had way too much money available to keep their quality folks and deny them to the FA market.

    ..... The patriots were strategically cap designed to be dominant in a continued (moderate increaing) salary cap. The new tv contract changed the battlefield dynamics dramatically.

    Not sure of good explanations for 2004-05 time frame other than #1 above. Maybe the timing of the Crennel and Weiss departures had a larger impact/disruption on FA scouting process. But sometimes you just have to swing the bat and sometimes you miss.
  4. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    You're very astute PromisedLand. Many of the arguments I have had

    on this forum are on this very subject. I have been called a few choice

    names for pointing out that our free agency aquisitions in 2005 and 2006

    weren't as good as earlier ones.
  5. Digger44

    Digger44 Rookie

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    Maybe I am missing the point, but what about Artrell Hawkins, Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gafney, Ray Mickens, Heath Evans, Josh Miller, Todd Sauerbrun, Chad Scott???

    Ok we have not won the SB yet with these guys, but that does not lessen their value.
  6. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Not sure these numbers are completely accurate as we have had signings the past few years that have contributed and just dont make the list of top 10. Hawkins, Caldwell, and Chad Scott come to mind.

    Seeing those two lists make you realize why BB and SP approach is so successful. It allows you to bring in talent but you don't pay alot for it and it makes the reward far outway the risk. As long as you are getting talent to contribute thru the draft than you will stay competive as we have.
  7. Brady to Brown

    Brady to Brown Rookie

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    I think this thread is onto something. I will be watching free agency with interest. There are several holes on the team and who fills those holes will be key.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  8. spacecrime

    spacecrime Rookie

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    There are two things wrong that I see. One is that in 2000 BB stirpped the team signed a ton of FAs, and also in 2001.

    I think we signed 21 in 2001. Some caught on and some didn't. I think that the signings of the two Philly FAs in 2001 was a bigger downer than Hayes. The difference in 2001 was that Patten and COleman stepped up. WHo would have thought?

    The other thing is that BB had to build the team with FAs in the early years. Now he picks and chooses, and the FAs we sign are expected to make major contirbutions.

    Dwayne Starks wasn't any worse that that CB that was one of our big 2001 signings. I forget his name but he was #22 and we paid $1.5 mil for him and all he did was let Oakland catch passes in the Snow Bowl and let Proehl run into the endzone in SBXXXVI. In 2002 he went tot he Raiders and sucked there, too.
  9. notex

    notex Rookie

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    err OT but i was lookin at your list and forgot completely about warfeild...now that i come to think about it he is a starter in madden for the pats, im assuming he was cut but what happend (please no re-sign)
  10. TomBrady'sGoat

    TomBrady'sGoat Rookie

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    Seau was looking like a great signing before his arm went squiggly. If he plays for NE again next year he could end up making the list.

    thank you for that post. you saved me from having to say the same thing.
  11. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    The answer to the question - have the patsies lost their touch - is:

    All of the above, incl.:
    More 3-4 defenses, ergo less 3-4 defenders from which to choose;
    More coaches/coordinators from the BB Tree of Life, who are looking for the same "Patriots-type" players we are;
    The higher salary cap = a lower # of quality FAs, esp. those who are released from their teams;
    The players whom BB coached, before he became HC of the NEP, are either retired, staying with their current clubs, or no longer useful;

    And finally, a degree of institutional arrogance has settled itself inside the Razor. It happened to the Dead Sux during the Duquette years, after Pedro and Nomar arrived; to the Smelltics in the mid-late 80s; and to the Ruins in the early-mid 90s. One common denominator is that all 3 teams were selling out their home games without worrying - as much as they should have been, anyway - about the product on the field/court/ice. It's natural, really: when you're already maximizing - or close enough - your profits, why bother spending any more than you have to? For more home playoff games? That was too farsighted for those aforementioned administrations. Today's Bottom Line was the bottom line back then. I fear that feeling has found its way to Foxborough, though Bob Kraft, as a 20-year plus season-ticket holder, would probably never allow his team to stop trying to win, at some cost. Just maybe not at any cost? That is more likely BB/SP's call. The FO just doesn't seem as aggressive - as Hungry - as it used to be. They don't sign nearly as many UDFAs post-draft, e.g. And those guys cost hardly anything, really. The 2004 draft seems like another example of just lazy scouting.

    Once again, I hope that I'm proven wrong, and that I have to eat my words by the start of TC.

    You're not alone, Jimke.
  12. pheenix11

    pheenix11 Rookie

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    I think the difference is the type of player they are going after. They are not going after high level free agents because they already have high level players.

    When you already have Vrabel, Colvin & Harrison you don't need to sign more guys like them because you still have them. Instead they are taking flyers on guys like Chad Brown & Monty Beisel who have not worked out. The difference is when those guys fail its not a big deal.

    By the way, you forgot about Junior Seau, that worked out pretty well before he got hurt. Reche Caldwell & Jabbar Gaffney were great pick ups as well. 2006 seemed pretty good if you ask me.

    Don't forget the trade for Dillon as well, not an FA signing but still a pretty slick move.

    If you ask me, BB & SP are getting better.
  13. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think a big reason why most of our best free agent pick ups were earlier in the Belichick era and the worst were later was due to the fact that the Pats had to build through free agency in the early years and builds through the draft now.

    If you look at the best players picked up by the Pats post 2002, they were draft picks. Pick ups like Ty Warren, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Dan Koppen, Asante Samuel, etc. were as impactful as additions like Roman Phifer and Otis Smith. In recent years the Pats have had the luxary to grow draft picks into the position rather than get a quick fix with a free agent.

    I think we have had some very good free agent additions in recent years though. Junior Seau was turning into a Roman Phifer type addition before he broke his arm. Reche Caldwell might be on par with David Patten when everything is said and done (maybe even better). Artrell Hawkins has been a great pick up. Gaffney, if he continues his post season success, might end up in Reiss' top 5 best free after the next season.
  14. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    I hope the Patriots don't abandon free agency and rely exclusively

    on the draft. Most draft choices need a couple of years to develop.

    Some never develop into good players.

    This current team has some glaring weaknesses. They need a couple

    of good linebackers for immediate use in their linebacker rotation, a

    good cornerback (especially if the Samuel situation turns out badly)

    and a good wide receiver. Due to the complexity of the Pats offensive

    and defensive systems, I don't think rookies can fill these roles.
  15. belichickaholic

    belichickaholic Rookie

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    My take is that it's a timing thing. There's less time to study FA and the draft if you've been in the playoffs every year. So I think they've had to kind of choose where to put most of their energies, either FA or the draft, with the draft of course getting most of their attention. Like Belichick always says, "It's a high class problem."

    Also, I think the fact that they have the smallest scouting staff in the league makes it more difficult.
  16. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    My reaction as well spacecrime.

    When re-building teams you bring in a ton of Free Agents. By quantity alone you're going to get a higher number of good players.

    Once you've built the team you focus less on bringing in new free agents and more on keeping the players you have, supplementing with the draft for the future.

    How may free agents did we sign following the 2003 Super Bowl? Somewhere south of 21 I would think. So were there less FA's that caught on with the team?

    I would think so - assuming the percentage of winners and losers hasn't changed dramatically that's the way it should be.
  17. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    BB and Pioli did a great job this offseason. If we win the Super Bowl, everybody is talking about what geniuses they are for picking up Reche and Seau...but, a couple stupid penalties, a couple stupid plays, a couple awful calls and we end up with no SB ring, so that's going to skew people's view of how the FO did.
  18. mcsully

    mcsully Rookie

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    Great post here.. I agree with 100%.. The pats philosphy is building thru the draft.. They had a team in 2001 with little or no talent. So the quickest way to make a splurge was to bring in a bunch of guys.. Lets remember, teams like the Redskins every year go after free agents, and look where they end up..
  19. PromisedLand

    PromisedLand Virtual Internet Person

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    First of all, to those who are hijacking this thread with personal attacks on each other, please go elsewhere.

    Now to respond to Rob - you brought up some interesting names. Caldwell, Hawkins, Gaffney and Seau certainly were good pickups. You might even add Randall Gay to that list. But remember, I didn't make up the top ten lists, I just analyzed the timing factor regarding the lists that Mike Reiss wrote. He presumably wrote them without an agenda regarding timing, since he didn't mention it.

    Still, you may have touched on something - if a free agent is an unmitigated disaster (Beisel), you don't have to wait very long before putting him on the bottom ten list, but if he is a good pickup you might not want to put him on the top ten until he has contributed for at least a couple of years.

    So that might be part of it. But my sense is that it is not a big factor.
  20. amazinPats

    amazinPats Rookie

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    We should also consider the idea that BB and Co. may not have felt an overwhelming imperative to "fix" the team or take risks on free agents over the past couple of seasons, owing to the Super Bowl victories and such.

    Going into 2006-7 season, they targetted a few players but were outplayed by other more aggressive teams. They lost a few players such as David Givens and Adam V at the last minute when they might have felt they had further time to renegotiate to greater advantage. They felt they had Deshea Townsend but he was yanked back to the Steelers in a last minute deal. The teams patience when it came to pursuing free agents proved to be a good strategy in the past, but hurt them greatly when they came up virtually empty handed going into the 2006-7 season. In a way then, the team was a victim of their own success in free agency.

    Prior to going into this last season, the team was coming off two consecutive Super Bowl victories--hardly a recipe to toss big $ around in free agency.

    Based on these ideas, we might see the Pats come out more aggressively this offseason. They haven't been to the Super Bowl in two years, and they were clearly outmaneuvered in free agency last year.

    Can't wait to see how BB and Pioli respond. :)
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