Moves New England Patriots Will Regret Not Making This Offseason
"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."
The timeless quote may have come from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, but it could just as easily be applied to any walk of life. For our purposes, it fits like a glove with regard to the moves that NFL teams fail to make during the offseason.
The New England Patriots' offseason will be characterized and remembered just as much—if not more—for the moves they made as it will be for the moves they didn't make.
Whether it's their failure to re-sign Darrelle Revis and Dan Connolly or their unwillingness to make it work with Brandon Browner, the Patriots may have some 'splainin' to do by the end of the season. Of course, the way the Patriots' past 15 years have gone, that 'splainin' may still come at the end of January or early in February anyway.
Here's a look at some of the questionable decisions the Patriots made—or didn't make—this offseason.
Not Retaining Brandon Browner
Missing out on Darrelle Revis was one thing. The Patriots have their backs up against the wall with regard to the salary cap, currently sporting only $5,985,487 in salary-cap space, according to OverTheCap.com; they were never going to win a bidding war with the New York Jets, who were armed to the teeth with salary-cap space at more than $45 million to start the offseason.
Where the Patriots may have gotten it wrong, though, was their decision to part ways with Brandon Browner. In the aftermath of Revis and Browner's departures, groupthink began to set in that Browner's value was tied to Revis and that he couldn't stand on his own without Revis shutting down a team's No. 1 receiver on the other side.
But 6'4", 221-pound cornerbacks don't pop up out of the ground often. The Patriots have experienced cornerbacks on the roster; Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Malcolm Butler have all played and started in significant games in their short careers. Would it really have hurt to keep Browner around at a $5.5 million cap hit for 2015? Not as much as it might hurt to have lost him altogether.
Not Restructuring Jerod Mayo's Contract
There is still time yet to get this done, but for now, it's shocking that the Patriots have not asked linebacker Jerod Mayo to restructure his contract.
The 29-year-old linebacker is coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries, most recently to his knee. The Patriots have plenty of young talent at linebacker, although they are lacking in depth at the position. It would seem logical to ask him to reduce his cap hit.
Why not? Who knows. Maybe it has something to do with the $4.5 million injury guarantee in his contract, as reported by ESPN's Mike Reiss. Maybe the Patriots would rather wait until next year, when they won't be losing out on $6 million of Mayo's cap hit in dead money.
Not Signing Rolando McClain When They Had the Chance
The Patriots have had plenty of chances to fortify their depth chart at linebacker over the past 12 months and have not taken very many of them. They limited their search for talented backups solely to undrafted free agents Cameron Gordon, James Morris and Deontae Skinner. Gordon and Morris are no longer on the team, and while Skinner earned some playing time last year, he's an injury away from some serious playing time.
With Rolando McClain in town for a free-agent visit on March 30, as reported by Field Yates of ESPN, the Patriots had an opportunity to add to the group. McClain comes with a fair share of question marks: he's been dealing with concussions lately and is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
But if an injury befalls Mayo, or if Dont'a Hightower isn't ready to go for the start of the season, the Patriots could regret their inaction at the linebacker position.
Not Signing Dan Connolly
Over the years, the Patriots have valued versatility on the offensive line more than just about any other quality. The more a player can do, the more likely he is to suit up for the Patriots. Nobody has been more versatile or dependable than Dan Connolly over the years. He has started at least one full season at each of the three interior positions: left guard, center and right guard.
The Patriots offensive line was shuffled more than a Las Vegas bicycle deck in the first four weeks of the 2015 season, but they finally stabilized the group with the insertion of Bryan Stork as the center, with Connolly at left guard and Ryan Wendell at right guard. New England runs the risk of throwing that group into flux once again if it does not bring back Connolly.
There's still hope that this can get done. Connolly is still a free agent, and although he's been drawing interest from some teams and took a visit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to Ross Jones of Fox Sports, nothing has really taken shape on his market value yet.
Not Re-Signing Darrelle Revis
There wasn't much the Patriots could do about it.
They had cleared cap space by moving on from defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and cornerback Brandon Browner, but they were still nowhere near the truck full of money the Jets had to spare.
Just because there was nothing they could do about it, it doesn't mean they won't be upset that it happened.
Revis' departure signals a departure from the aggressive man-coverage scheme the Patriots executed from mid-2012 through 2014. It also shines the spotlight on young cornerbacks like Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington and Malcolm Butler, who will likely be covering in a more zone-heavy coverage approach that will allow larger windows in the passing game.
The Patriots will be feeling Revis' absence in 2015, but on what level? We'll find out shortly.
Unless otherwise noted, all salary cap and contract information provided by OverTheCap.com.