With Key Reinforcements to the Defense, New England Patriots are “Winners” in Free Agency
The New England Patriots management has been widely criticized this offseason, in particular with their decision to let wideout Wes Welker depart to the AFC powerhouse Denver Broncos. Not only did the Patriots opt to let Welker walk in free agency, they also elected to release wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Welker and Lloyd combined for 192 receptions, 2,265 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012, meaning the Patriots must find production somewhere else in the offense next season.
In order to fill the void of Welker’s departure, the Patriots elected to sign Danny Amendola. While he appears to have the same skill set as Welker, his inability to stay on the field makes the signing a bit risky. The Patriots also elected to sign Donald Jones, who the hapless Buffalo Bills decided to give up on after three years in the NFL.
The Patriots have lost immense offensive firepower on offense and yet their offseason should be deemed a success because of their ability to strengthen their defense. The Patriots were able to re-sign Aqib Talib, who became the No 1. cornerback on the squad after being acquired in a midseason trade. Not only is Talib an extremely reliable cover corner, his presence in the secondary allows Kyle Arrington to move to the slot cornerback position, where he plays his best brand of football.
The Patriots best offseason move has been signing safety Adrian Wilson. Not only is Wilson one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL, he also brings a trademark toughness that the Patriots defense has missed in recent years. The 33-year-old has made the Pro-Bowl five times and has been a four-time All-Pro pick.
Talib and Wilson will shore up the Patriots secondary, the weakest part of the team in 2012. The Patriots defense is making steady improvements from year to year, as their run defense improved significantly last season. With the Patriots reloading their defense, they should be considered one of the “winners” of the offseason, contrary to popular belief.
The New England offense should not be a concern. The Patriots still have Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in the league, to go along with two of the most talented tight ends in the NFL in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. While the Patriots do need to address the wide receiver position, either by signing a veteran free agent or drafting a talented young prospect, the offensive side of the ball will not be a worry for the team in 2013. Brady will find a way to incorporate the new receivers into the system and the offense should gel smoothly like always.
When the Patriots were celebrating their glory days from 2001-2004, winning three Super Bowls, the defense was a particularly strong suit to the team. The Patriots management has clearly recognized a need to strengthen their defense and try to emulate their glory days on the defensive unit by re-signing Talib and adding Wilson. Block out all the criticism directed to the Patriots management because the Patriots have improved their team this offseason and the results will show next season.