Entering the 2012 NFL offseason, the reigning AFC Champion New England Patriots have a ton of money to play with. As of right now, the team has an estimated $24 million in cap space, which certainly makes it capable of making a few big splashes this offseason.
Could one of those splashes be for pass-rusher Mario Williams?
On paper, Williams to the Patriots certainly makes a lot of sense.
Williams would fit so perfectly in New England's defensive system—as he can play either 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end—which is something that Bill Belichick would love.
Over the years, Williams has thrived as a pass-rusher in the 4-3 defensive end position, but in 2011, he made the transition in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense as a stand-up outside linebacker and was unstoppable.
While playing in only five games, Williams managed to record 11 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble—it was clear that the transition from a down to a stand-up pass-rusher wasn't a problem for the 6'6", 283-pounder.
One would figure that Williams will be looking for top dollar this offseason, something that New England rarely decides to hand out—but there's no question that he would be worth it.
Williams would likely be searching for a deal that's worth more than Vince Wilfork's four-year, $40 million contract and Jerod Mayo's seven-year, $49.85 million contract. Some would think that Belichick wouldn't go that far—why should he bring in a new guy to an already strong locker room and pay him much more than the top two defenders?
But Belichick is so hard to predict that making a huge splash and signing Williams could be a strong possibility.
Tom Brady doesn't have too many years left, and this team was just four minutes away from winning its fourth Super Bowl, so adding a player as effective as Williams would certainly put the team over the top.
It's just a matter of what direction Belichick will go in, and we all know that he is incredibly hard to read.
All I know is that the Patriots have enough room to make a huge signing and would benefit tremendously by adding Williams to their shaky defensive unit.
Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus.