New England Patriots Remaining Free Agent Options
The Patriots have been quiet on the free agent front during the first couple days of free agency. They have resigned important pieces in Vince Wilfork, Tully Banta-Cain, Stephen Neal, and Leigh Bodden, who were all starters last year.
The signing of Bodden is important because it helps to shore up that secondary that was questionable last season. With him back in the mix they have an experienced CB they can rely on. Still the Patriots do need some help as they have the "oldest" offense in the league with a 29-year-old average and the 21st "youngest" defense.
There are still some veterans with another year or two left that can help the Patriots this year.
CB: Nick Harper, William Gay, Benny Sapp
Granted these DBs are not big names. Harper and Gay had 81 and 78 tackles respectively, and Harper missed/didn’t accumulate any stats in five games. They are big experience DBs who can help the younger Patriot players this year.
Even if they don’t start it would be nice to see them as a nickel back providing that security blanket. Belichick likes older DBs, as we saw in Milloy (yes he released him) and Rodney Harrison. Sapp is slightly smaller at 5'9" but he played in every game for the Vikings this past season and can provide another experienced body.
QB: Jake Delhomme, Daunte Culpepper, Kyle Boller
This proposition is just for a backup position for Brady.
Brian Hoyer played good when he came in during spot duty last season, but it can’t hurt to have another QB on the depth chart. Will Delhomme accept a back up role? Maybe. I don’t think he’s going to get a starting shot anywhere in the league most teams who started rookie QBs last year are set to go with them as the starters this year.
I think Delhomme would accept an offer to come and sit on the bench in New England rather than sit on the bench in Oakland or Tampa Bay. Daunte Culpepper was talked about a couple of years ago as coming in as Brady’s backup. He probably will not come to New England because he still wants to start and showed his displeasure when Matt Stafford was started over him last year. Kyle Boller never lived up to expectations in Baltimore or St. Louis but he would just be there to provide QB depth.
WR: Antonio Bryant, Josh Reed
Bryant is an intriguing prospect. At 6'1" and only 28 he could be around for a couple years if he fits into the Patriots vertical attack. In the last two years with Tampa Bay he has 122 receptions, 1,848 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
He’s no Randy Moss but he could be a valuable receiver and give them a big receiver to back up Moss. He has had some attitude problems playing for four teams in eight years but again he’s only 28. Josh Reed could back up Welker and Edelman and is met with the Patriots yesterday.
He was a Bills first round pick out of LSU is 2001. He was never to the go to receiver in Buffalo but could provide as a serviceable backup and maybe revive his career the way Stallworth did in his only season with the team.
LB: Derrick Burgess, Larry Izzo
Derrick Burgess was the second most efficient pass rusher after Tull Banta-Cain last season for the Patriots. He finished with 35 tackles and five sacks. Not a superstar but an important piece to the defensive puzzle that needs to be resigned.
As for Larry Izzo he was a Pro Bowler for the Patriots in 2002 and 2004 as a special teams ace and also has three Super Bowl rings. He is the replica of a player that Belichick likes; smart, experienced, will do what needs to be done. The Patriots should consider bringing him back to help the special teams unit and to give the team overall depth.
TE: Benjamin Watson, L.J Smith
Benjamin Watson is an underrated tight end in the league. He is a good pass catcher and blocker. He can also come up in the clutch as we saw in Week 1 against Buffalo with two TD catches. His production has declined since 2006 but that can be attributed to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. He did have 29 recpetions for 404 yards and five touchdowns.
Another verteran locker room vet who would be better to bring back because of this comfort level with the Pats passing than trying to bring in a new player. The L.J. Smith experiment failed miserably in Baltimore last year. Has he only had two receptions for 31 yards. Signing him would give us a third tight end but he is better suited as a receiver. Never know for his blocking he has had 233 receptions for 2,556 yards and 18 touchdowns in his eight years in the league and he, like Watson, is 29-years-old.
RB: Kevin Faulk, Brian Westbrook, Thomas Jones
Plain and simple the Patriots need to resign Kevin Faulk. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
With Laurence Maroney's struggles and Fred Taylor age/injuries the Patriots need some depth. We won't find a go to featured back in this years crop of free agents but the offense has never needed one. They just need someone who can catch balls out of the backfield, pass protect, and work the clock in the fourth quarter.
Thomas Jones could be a option here, but I think he will go somewhere where he can be the starter. Brian Westbrook is probably going to be reduced to what Kevin Faulk does know, but hey I don't see anything wrong with two Kevin Faulk's. I think the team can be successful again with a four or five back rotation of Maroney, Talyor, Morris, Faulk, and Ellis/Westbrook.
These players are long shots but they could still help the Patriots. As you can see most of these players have cause problems in previous stops (Owens, Porter, Bulluck) but a change of scenery may help them.
Jon Runyan-OT/OL (depth)
Barry Sims-OT/OL (depth)