See Philadelphia’s mistakes as a cautionary tale, winning March doesn’t translate to winning in February
The NFL’s Legal Tampering Period is underway and already we’re seeing the same comments on social media that we see every spring.
“What are the Pats/BB waiting for?” “They need to get (insert any name) asap.” “Brady’s window is closing and if they’re asleep, they’ll miss out on the best free agents and miss the playoffs.” Any of these sound familiar? They should. But to quote Packers QB Aaron Rodgers… RELAX.
Teams that jump both feet into free agency on Day 1 and win the day, rarely are around when the smoke clears in January. In fact, usually, the opposite is true. Look at the mistakes of the Philadelphia Eagles which should be a beacon to those who want to sign everybody…now, asap.
The old adage, Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware) is the rule of the day.
In 2011, the Eagles had Mike Vick as their QB and the electrifying if injury prone and inconsistent signal caller had Philly abuzz entering the offseason. Andy Reid and the Eagles pushed all their chips into the middle of the table and tried to sign every big name free agent out there.
Backup QB Vince Young, CBs Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Jason Babin, RB Ronnie Brown, DT Cullen Jenkins, WR Donald Lee and G Evan Mathis were quickly signed by Philly. Young quickly dubbed the Eagles the “Dream Team” and talk was of multiple championships not just one in store for them.
The reality was much different, the Eagles started off 1-4 and slept walked thru an 8-8 season, missing the playoffs.
Fast forward to 2015, just four years later. With Andy Reid now in Kansas City, Chip Kelly was going to dismantle the team and create a new powerhouse in his image, jettisoning several players including Mathis, the last of the former “Dream Team” members, QB Nick Foles, Trent Cole, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin.
They brought in QB Sam Bradford, RBs Demarco Murray and Ryan Matthews, LB Kiko Alonso WR Miles Austin, and CB Walter Thurmond III. Once again, reality set in and the Eagles were a mess, starting 1-3 and limping to a 7-9 finish, out of the playoffs. Kelly was fired in December.
Now the team is already trading away those big contracts shipping Alonso and Maxwell to Miami. Late last night Murray’s agent was tweeting that he’s being traded to the Titans and rumors persist that Matthews is on the trading block as well.
The Patriots and Bill Belichick are beginning the free agency period like they always do; they released or told some of their restricted free agent players that aren’t in their plans for the year to allow them plenty of time to find a new home, (Brandon LaFell, Scott Chandler, Darius Fleming, Brian Tyms, Sealver Siliga), and re-did the contract of QB Tom Brady extending him out through the 2019 season. They picked up the option for TE Rob Gronkowski keeping him likewise through the 2019 league year.
They offered tenders to some of their prized role players, bringing back FB James Develin, CB Justin Coleman, S/LB/STs Brandon King and have cleared up some money to allow them some flexibility to approach free agency with fiscal responsibility, not reckless abandon.
Are there some big name free agents out there that interest them? Of course, and they’ll kick the tires but don’t expect them to make a bunch of splash moves on Wednesday. There are plenty of RBs that would be a nice fit with the Pats but don’t be shocked if the team brings back LaGarrette Blount and then looks to the draft for a player in the mid rounds if the asking money gets too high and the bidding gets out of control.
Blount may end up back as a member of the Patriots as they approach Free Agency fiscally conservative. (USA TODAY Images)
A great example of that is TE Dwayne Allen who was on many writers’ radar as a possible target for the Patriots in free agency. The Colts re-signed Allen on Monday with a 4-year deal worth around $29.4 million dollars. While he may be worth that for the Colts to keep around, paying more than Rob Gronkowski for a guy who had 16 catches for 109 yards and 1 touchdown in 2015? That’s just bad business and the kind of moves the Pats rarely make.
The same can be said for the wide receivers out there. The teams that overspend on Day 1 invariably end up eating some of those high priced contracts (see Maxwell), who while is a very good player, isn’t worth the price Philly paid last year and now has been dealt to the Miami Dolphins where Mike Tannenbaum never met a big money contract he didn’t like.
Belichick has a plan, there are players they will obviously want to bring in during free agency, but there’s always a ceiling, a fiscal threshold they won’t cross. And if that is crossed, they’ll look elsewhere for help. The Patriots don’t build Dream Teams, but solid team foundations that take into account all 53 men on the roster.
So while it may get frustrating at times for Pats fans, remember this nobody has had the kind of success the Patriots have since Belichick took over in Foxboro…and it isn’t even close.
“C-mon Bill get off your duff and sign somebody!”
Posted Under: 2016 Free Agency
Tags: 2016 Free Agency 2016 free agents 2016 Legal tampering window 2016 NFL Free Agency 2016 NFL off-season 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Dream Team Dwayne Allen LaGarrette Blount Matt Forte Mike Vick New England Patriots NFL Patriots Philadelphia Eagles Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Vince Young