Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
This one seems so obvious it almost feels like cheating.
Last season, the Patriots’ secondary was justifiably dragged through the mud after yielding the fourth-most passing yards of any team in the league.
A closer look, though, tells a different story than one might expect.
They finished with 20 interceptions, good for the fifth-highest total in the league, so they clearly have playmakers and capable coverage guys. They also finished in the middle of the pack in completion percentage allowed, which tells us they weren’t getting shredded as often as the detractors would have us believe.
A solid completion percentage against and high interception totals don’t quite jell with the idea of allowing that many yards, but the numbers tell us something valuable: Teams weren’t completing a high percentage of their passes, but when they did, they churned out good chunks of yardage.
In other words, teams were beating the Patriots deep.
You may be asking yourself, “What does that have to do with Abraham?” and that’s a fair question. While it’s ultimately the secondary’s job to shut down the passing game, everyone knows a cornerback’s best friend is an effective pass rush, which the Patriots did not have last season.
The word anemic comes to mind.
The Patriots’ sack leader last season was Rob Ninkovich with eight. Abraham has averaged more than that over his 13-year career.
While New England’s safeties and corners were trying to limit the damage, opposing quarterbacks were able to stand tall in the pocket and allow time for their receivers to work open downfield. Signing Abraham would help put a stop to that.
Sure, New England tried to address the issue by drafting linebacker Jamie Collins, but we can’t say for sure if the rookie will be ready to make an impact right away. We also can’t say for certain that second-year defensive end Chandler Jones will make the monumental leap many pundits expect.
The Patriots simply cannot endure another season with Ninkovich leading their pass rush. At the very least, Abraham would provide instant punch as part of a rotation at defensive end. He could yield similar production to that of Mark Anderson, who netted 10 sacks in 2011 and added another 2.5 during the playoffs to help guide the team to the Super Bowl.