Last week I suggested the Pats pursue Greg Toler as an affordable, high-upside option at cornerback. I stand by that suggestion if the Pats don't want to break the bank at the position.
But recent reports have indicated the Pats are willing to invest heavily to lock down the position, and if that's the case, then there are surer bets on the market than Toler. As Jeff Howe of NESN.com reports:
Gamble and Cox are marquee free-agent corners, and either one would likely require a significant investment. Both would be good pickups for the Pats secondary, but I'm going to go ahead and suggest a better one: Sean Smith.
While Gamble and Cox have both battled injuries in recent years, Smith has been remarkably durable—he's missed just one game in his career.
Smith, who is just 25, has the size (6'3", 214 pounds), and press-coverage skills to be a lockdown corner for the Pats. He gets lost in zone, but he'd fit in perfectly across from second-year Pats corner Alfonzo Dennard, whose skills are also tailored to man coverage.
Though Smith is looking to get paid, he's the kind of player the Patriots should pony up for. With Smith and Dennard at the corners, the Pats can stick to a man-free, Cover 1 scheme with Devin McCourty playing center field and Tavon Wilson lining up against tight ends.
This acquisition doesn't appear to be a pipe dream, as Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports claims the Pats are among the leaders in the Smith sweepstakes: