Thursday’s announcement of the roughly 5 percent raise in the salary cap pleased many NFL teams, including the New England Patriots. Like most teams, this leaves more money on the table for the Patriots to re-sign current players, restructure current contracts and bid for free agents. At the moment, the Patriots have $126.5 million towards the 2014 cap. But, when they don’t re-sign some free agents after March 11 and part ways with disposable players, they will have plenty of room to stay under what will be an adjusted team cap of just over $134 million.
Now, to the focus of their “play money”; or what one can only hope their focus will be. First off , as I stated in my last post, CB Aqib Talib is crucial to their defensive success, so some money will hopefully be thrown his way. On the other side of the ball, I nearly fell in love with Julian Edelman this year. He outplayed and out-hustled Danny Amendola by a long shot for the right to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver in 2014. Not saying I wouldn’t like to see both in a Patriots uniform next season, but I think Edelman is literally Tom Brady‘s new Wes Welker.
But, when TE Rob Gronkowski is out of the lineup (which is WAY too often), the Patriots lack offensive efficiency. With Gronkowski on the field, their red zone touchdown percentage and points per game are much higher, as well as Brady’s yards per attempt, completion percentage and percentage of passes thrown to the TE position. “Gronk” is Brady’s security blanket, just like Jason Witten is to Tony Romo on the Dallas Cowboys.
So, since Aaron Hernandez is in jail, the Patriots need a better second option at TE. I’m sorry for those of you who might like him, but Michael Hoomanawanui isn’t the answer. Their are, though, some free agent TEs who can fill in when called upon much better than “Hoo-man” has to this point.
There is some nice talent at TE slated to be on the free agent market and likely available for negotiations. I would love to say Jimmy Graham is in that group, but the New Orleans Saints will definitely be holding on to him for the foreseeable future. The realistic options, to me, are narrowed down to the Detriot Lions‘ Brandon Pettigrew, the Baltimore Ravens‘ Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and Dallas Clark, the Buffalo Bills‘ Scott Chandler and maybe a few more low-key players. Any of the previously listed TEs would be an upgrade at the No. 2 TE slot and should be seriously considered for a roster spot with the Patriots.