If I didn't love the Patriots as much as I do, I would hate the Patriots as much as everyone else does.
In baseball, it's the Yankees. In hoops, it's the Celtics. In hockey, who cares? Teams that simply seem to grab the hot name before anyone else gets a sniff.
Like their cross-town sisters the Red Sox, the Patriots seem content signing proven players to low-risk, high-gain contracts.
The Patriots off-season may turn out to be nothing short of remarkable if things pan out as hoped. Sure, the Pats lost second-string QB turned Golden Boy, Matt Cassell, and defensive captain Mike Vrabel in a controversial trade with Kansas City.
They lost long-time special teams Pro Bowler Larry Izzo to the New York Jets, No. 3 wide receiver, Jabar Gaffney and long-snapper Lonnie Paxton to the Denver Broncos, as well as bowling ball fullback Heath Evans to the New Orleans Saints.
There are minuses on every football team and barring another injury to QB Tom Brady these subtractions would seem to be palatable.
On the plus side, ESPN's Len Pasquarelli has announced that the Patriots have signed free-agent WR Joey Galloway. Galloway is in his 15th season in the NFL and projects to be a third or fourth receiver behind Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and recently signed wide-out Greg Lewis.
Lewis, who was sent over from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick, has 127 career receptions in 90 games with the Eagles to go along with 43 career special teams tackles.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Scott Pioli-less Patriots remained aggressive by signing long time standout RB, Fred Taylor. Taylor, who is entering his 12th year in the NFL signed as a free agent after 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He played in a limited role with the Jaguars last year, tallying 556 yards on 143 carries, mostly between the 20-yard lines. Taylor projects to be part of Coach Bill Belichick's running back rotation of Laurence Maroney, Sammie Morris, and Kevin Faulk.
In less significant signings, the Patriots have also signed TE Chris Baker, who caught 21 passes in 13 games with the Jets in '08; TE Brad Listorti, also from the Jets; and long snapper Nathan Hodel, who missed all of last year and the end of 2007 with an ankle injury after six seasons with the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.
On the defensive side of the field, the Patriots have been equally aggressive signing cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden as well as Patriot alum Tully Banta-Cain.
Springs in is his 13th NFL season playing his first dozen with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. He has played in 157 career games and has made 662 tackles, has 8.5 sacks and 32 career picks.
He also has the distinction of being the only defensive back in NFL history to lead his team in sacks and interceptions in the same season, achieving this in 2004. Last season, he 36 tackles, one sack, one interception, and eight passes defensed in seven starts with the Redskins.
Bodden, who attended Duquesne University, has played in 75 career games, with 287 tackles, 13 interceptions, 56 passes defensed, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 30 special teams tackles.
In 2008, while playing for the toothless Lions, Bodden played in 16 games and tied for fifth on the team with 80 tackles, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Banta-Cain was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh round in 2003 by the Patriots and played primarily on special teams and his first three seasons before starting five games in 2006 at linebacker.
Banta-Cain was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an unrestricted free agent in '07 and played in 28 games with 10 starts for San Francisco before being released in February.