Hello all, I find myself with some extra time on my hands so I've decided to share some of my free agency thoughts with this board. The honor is yours... this could get wordy. -I have an opinion on the historical FACT that FA signings rarely turn out as well as expected. There are few examples of big FA deals where the player was as good or better than the money dictated he should be, and tons of examples of guys who never lived up to the deal. The most obvious is that players are paid for their resume, for what they were, then deliver th ewatered-down version of what they become when passing their prime. A different thought that occured to me recently is that every FA on the market was not resigned by his previous team. The team that knew him the best decided NOT to pay what he wants. That may be the best perspective on FA failures I can think of. There are a couple of types of players who negate that: 1) Previous team simply cannot afford him (Thomas seems to fit that) 2) The player was blocked by a great player. (Jarvis Green comes to mind as a guy who may be a very good starter in the NFL, but will never get the chance here. We may choose to not pay him his value, because his role here wouldnt make it worth the cost) 3) The team rightfully wont pay the player what he wants because he doesn't fit the system. (Vrabel is a good example) 4) The player decides to move on for non-money issues When you balance it out, there are high-risk FAs--those that their own team decide to let walk, and lower risk FAs, those that may fit 1-4 above. As far as the Pats moves so far, my take is: Thomas. Great signing. Stud player. Bmore would have kept him if they could. Iam not at all concerned about his age. I thinkhe is peaking, and it will be near the end of the deal before he declines. Morris. I actually really like this signing. I thought we needed a guy like this who can start if he must, due to a Maroney injury. Faulk is the 'backup' but should stay the backup if Maroney is injured. Morris fits this bill, IMO, and while Faulks role would be bigger if LM was out, Morris can be reasonable effective filling the bulk of Maroney role. If its Maroney 85% of the snaps and Faulk 15%, then its Morris 70% and Faulk 30% if LM is out. However, what I like best about this signing is that Morris is a special teams stud. 2(?) years ago when we tried to sign him, it was almost exclusively for special teams ability. This gives us a special teams stud when Maroney is healthy and a capable fill in if he were not. Brady. When you look at the chances Graham got in the passing game, and recognize elsewhere he would get a lot more, it was obvious that we were moving on. Graham is going to be paid as a multi-dimensional TE, while in our system, he was never going to be that. No doubt it is a loss, because he was the best blocking TE in the NFL, but Brady is a very good blocker as well, and while he does not have Graham's speed and athleticism, may actually be a better fit for the routine type of receiving he will be ask (and Graham was asked) to do. Welker. I wasn't excited about the possiblity of Welker a few weeks ago, but its growing on me. Welker, IMO, is Troy Brown circa 1998-99. Brown then became a 100 catch guy for a few years, then age set him back to a backup role. Welker may never go beyond the Brown of 98-99, but Brown was very effective before becoming a 100 catch guy. Even more important is the similarities between the 2, short route running and run after the catch ability, and how valuable that is in our system. We have really not had the threat of a guy who can catch a 5 yard pass, then make 3 guys miss and end up with 35 yards in quite some time, and our offense is really helped by it. I thought Caldwell showed decent rac potential last year---he always looked to escape after making the catch, but never really had a lot of success. I thought Gaffney does not fit the rac mold. Jackson is the speed, and I expect we will see that coming. We should know by now its not about comparing to past teams, but if you look at the success we have had in the passing game, it seems Welker can bring what Brown did and Branch later replaced. Jackson adds the speed factor that Patten brought. (In 2004 Patten's speed and deep threat was a big boost to the offense, even though he only caught about 35 passes or so) Caldwell/Gaffney seem to be the capable David Givens-type. Maybe we do add Stallworth. I'm not so sure we will. If we do, my hopes are not extremely high for him, but I think he could replicate what David Patten did in 01-02 when he caught 60 passes or so. If we do, we will have more depth than playing time at a position where last year we were struggling to sign a guy and get him on the field. Really, if you look at the transition in the WR postion from 01-04 (valley to peak) when we started with Brown, Patten and no one, and grew to a very deep and talented unit, we may be making that jump again this time in one off-season. Going forward, I'd like to see: Maybe another WR like Stallworth. 1 or 2 OL added in the mid rounds of the draft. A 3rd QB who isnt on Social Security. One more vet LB who could be a primary backup. One more vet LB who is a reliable JAG backup. The rest of the LB corps filled out by retianing our own young guys or getting newer versions. A day 1 corner who could push for the #3 corner role. One safety to add to the mix, ideally a draft choice. Of course as cap room dictates, I am all for upgrading any position further through FA in addition to the above.