Depth wins championships.
The New England Patriots have seemingly embraced this notion, signing more free agents than any other team in the NFL this offseason. Aside from quarterback, the Patriots have signed at least one free agent from every position group, building talented depth throughout the entire roster.
However, the safety position still remains thin, with Patrick Chung, newly signed free agent Steve Gregory and second-round draft choice Tavon Wilson the only locks to make the roster.
While Chung has flashed the ability to be a top-tier safety at times throughout his three-year career, he has yet to prove he can stay on the field, having his last two seasons hampered by injury.
Wilson certainly looks the part with a thick frame, standing at 6'0'' and weighing 205 lbs, but his abilities are yet to be seen and should not be depended on to start in the event of an injury.
So who is there to step in should projected starters Chung or Gregory go down next year?
Sergio Brown? Josh Barrett?
I certainly hope not. These two played some of the worst football at the safety position I have ever seen.
The Jets have boasted a top-10 pass defense over the last three seasons, and Leonhard has played a integral role in that success.
Described by Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis as the "quarterback" of the Jets secondary, Leonhard is an intelligent veteran who was a leader of an elite secondary over the last three years.
The Patriots young secondary could benefit from the addition of a veteran presence and could certainly use the depth.
While the uncertainty of Leonhard's health definitely presents some risk in a potential signing, Leonhard should come relatively cheap given said risk.
Why not sign him to a short deal and see how it pans out in training camp? Let him come in and compete, and even if his knee becomes an issue, perhaps he could land on the PUP list and bolster the roster later in the season.
Even a limping Jim Leonhard is better than a healthy Sergio Brown or Josh Barrett.
With the Jets signing safety LaRon Landry earlier this offseason and the recent news that they will also be signing safety Yeremiah Bell, Leonhard's time with the Gang Green looks to be over.
The Patriots should be interested in a depth-enhancer like Leonhard. And Leonhard might just jump at the chance to join the team that swept his former squad a season ago.