Recapping Patriots free agency and roster moves
In all likelihood, the New England Patriots are all done making big time free agent and roster moves. There are some names such as Nick Fairley that could still end up in Foxborough, and roster decisions looming with Danny Amendola that could spark some news, but it appears that the earth shattering signings and trades are in the rear view mirror, until at least the summer time.
In the minds of many Patriots fans, the team had a spectacular free agency period. The fan base slammed the panic button after day one when they saw other teams writing major checks to player’s, and Bill Belichick settled for a player like Ramon Humber on day one. Nevertheless, as the first major wave of free agency came to an end, the Patriots front office began to pounce.
The first major move the team made was dipping into the restricted free agent market by signing him to a three-year, 12-million-dollar contract. Immediately, the Bills announced that they would not match that deal, making Hogan a Patriot. Hogan seems to fit the mold of a player that could perfectly fit the Patriots offense, if he can grasp the playbook. At 6-1, 220 pounds Hogan can be that outside player that should be able to replicate what Brandon LaFell did in 2014, or Brandon Llyod in 2012.
After the signing of Chris Hogan, the Patriots really started making moves. The first “breaking news caliber” one being trading Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s draft and guard Jonathan Cooper. It was one that most Patriots fans felt comfortable with because of the second round pick and offensive line depth they received, and due to the fact that Chandler Jones has proven to disappear down the stretch every single year. His ten-plus sacks every season will be missed, but they have drafted and made singings that should make up for that production.
In order to help replace Chandler Jones, the Patriots signed former second overall pick Chris Long, formerly of the St. Louis Rams. The 6-4, 275 pound has played in the league for eight years, and for the first six seasons of his career he played in all 16-games. The past two he has only played in six and twelve games. He certainly won’t come right in and get 12.5 sacks like Chandler Jones, but he will provide good rotational depth behind Jabaal Sheard and Trey Flowers.
Donald Brown was also a player the Patriots signed in the second week of free agency. The former Colts running back signed with the Patriots after two years with San Diego. He is a player that can be that every down back that the Patriots so desperately need. He will have his chances to start this training camp, but he will have to earn it. If he doesn’t he won’t have a spot on the roster. Given the fact that he is a veteran, he will either make the team and start right away, or get cut before the season starts.
In addition, Shea McClellin, who is another former first round pick was brought in by Bill Belichick. He was the 19th overall pick in 2012 and was an overall disappointment in Chicago. In New England he won’t serve as big of a roll, and will play behind two elite linebackers. Pencil him also to be every down player on the special team’s unit.
The biggest move for the Patriots this offseason was the trade of a fourth-round pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for tight end Martellus Bennent. This sent shock waves through Patriots Nation, and fans proclaimed that the, “Boston TE party” is back on. Bennent at 6-6, 273 pounds is a physical presence who caught 53 passes last season and 90 in 2014. The Patriots offense now, especially in the red zone will be a major headache for opposing defensive coordinators.
In the end, Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio put together one of the more exciting free agency periods in recent Patriots history. Even though the most exciting moves did not come via signing free agents, there were still moves that caused for excitement and deservedly so. The Patriots were already arguably the best team in the AFC, now it is pretty safe to say they are the team to beat. Nevertheless, we all know that winning in March does not always translate to winning in February.