Patriots Rumors: Playmakers New England Must Sign in Free Agency
The team needs to act quickly and decide what to do. Re-signing Welker should be its top priority, and bringing Talib back to help the secondary should be next. However, the team needs to get an answer out of those free agents as soon as possible.
If they are unable to get a commitment out of either, the Patriots need to make a statement by going after free agents.
The team will need to improve its receiving corps and get some help in the secondary.
Here are a few free agents that the team should look at signing if it can't get a commitment from either of its premier playmakers.
The 29-year-old has never put up huge numbers at receiver, but quarterback Tom Brady could use somebody with Cribbs' speed. Who knows if this could be the deep threat the Patriots have been looking for, but it is a good fit.
He has only topped 500 receiving yards once in his career. However, he is a threat to run the ball or even throw it on trick plays.
Cleveland has gone through numerous quarterbacks since Cribbs was drafted, so he's never had a quality arm throwing to him.
His numbers have suffered as a result, so he has been focusing on special teams more than offense in recent years. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, including in 2012.
Devin McCourty was New England's top returner last season, but Cribbs had a better average on kickoffs. McCourty averaged just over 24 yards per return while Cribbs was over 27 yards per attempt.
Cribbs can also be used to return punts, which would allow the Patriots to have their other receivers focus on offense. Cribbs has returned 11 kicks/punts for touchdowns in his career, so he can be a versatile weapon if the team signs him.
He isn't used only on punt returns. He also shows his versatility in covering kicks and making tackles.
This move would have to come only if Welker is not re-signed. ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio went on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, via Fox Sports, and hinted the Patriots could be serious contenders for Danny Amendola.
Who would make the biggest impact in New England?
In only 11 games last season, the receiver had 666 receiving yards with the St. Louis Rams. He averaged a career-high 10.6 yards per reception and had a 56-yard touchdown. He's the type of receiver who could come in and replace Welker in the slot.
Amendola has dealt with injuries the past two years. That has really hurt his production, and he would have set a career high in receiving yards in 2012 had it not been for a foot injury.
Like Cribbs, Amendola can also be used on special teams. He isn't as prolific as Cribbs, but he can still get a chunk of yards on a return.
With a suspect secondary, New England needs to make a serious run at corner Sean Smith, even if Talib re-signs.
Charlie McCarthy of Fox Sports Florida reports the Patriots are interested in the Miami cornerback. The Dolphins are looking at re-signing him, but the Patriots need to be aggressive to improve their defense.
The 25-year-old has had two interceptions in each of the past two seasons, and he should only get better as he gets more experience.
He's got good speed and can stay with receivers. He still has plenty of room to grow as a player, but he has already shown glimpses of being a very good corner.
Smith will be highly sought after, so the Patriots don't have time to wait. They need to take a chance and throw some money at him, especially if Welker decides to leave.
*All stats courtesy of ESPN.com
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