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Thursday, June 6, 2013
Williamson: Pats' offseason earns a C

By Field Yates

While there is still time for teams to add players or tweak their rosters prior to the start of training camp, the majority of offseason transactions have taken place. With that being the case, ESPN Insider's Matt Williamson dives in with a grade for each team's offseason, breaking down their players lost and added (via free agency, trades and the draft).

For the Patriots, Williamson assigns the team a C, which he describes as a grade for a team that, at best, replaced the talent that it lost. He writes:

The biggest turnover here is at WR, as Welker, who has been a rock of consistent production, is now in Denver. Amendola is younger and appears to be a suitable replacement, but true slot receivers take a beating and Amendola hasn't been able to stay on the field. Also gone is Lloyd, who never really fit in here, with Jones, Jenkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce bidding for his playing time. Dobson has the most upside, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jones saw more time early on. Someone from that group needs to step up to make the Patriots' offense complete.

Marcus Cannon should fill in very well for Thomas, who played well in New England, and Greene and Svitek give the Pats depth and the ability to use Svitek as a sixth offensive lineman in certain personnel packages. This is still an elite offensive line.

New England also had a lot of movement on the defensive side of the ball. Collins is a favorite of mine who should improve the edge pass rush immediately, while Buchanan also is a very talented edge rusher who could surprise. Kelly should also provide a more consistent interior push, which wasn't really Deaderick's or Love's specialty. Wilson should fill the Rodney Harrison enforcer role and I also can envision him playing plenty of nickel linebacker, as New England's heavier second-level defenders outside of Jerod Mayo don't offer a lot in coverage. In addition, the Patriots added a couple of early-to-mid-round defensive backs into the equation, a strategy that hasn't been very fruitful in the past.


Handing out offseason grades before training camp has even begun is a difficult exercise (much like draft grades that are handed out before rookies even take a snap). One of the Patriots' prominent offseason acquisitions last year was Jonathan Fanene, but a knee injury ended up forcing the team to release him before the start of the regular season. In addition, players either exceed or fall short of expectations that are cast upon their arrival, but that takes at least a season to recognize.

For the Patriots, this has been a transition offseason of sorts on offense, with dominant storylines including the new-look receiving corps and the surgeries for Rob Gronkowski. Losing Wes Welker was a tough blow for the offense given all that he meant during his six seasons as a Patriot, and the team is hopeful that newcomers can fill the void left by his departure. Other notable departures include running back Danny Woodhead, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, defensive tackles Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love, and guard Donald Thomas.

The team also secured its most important player for three more seasons when it signed Tom Brady to a contract extension through the 2017 season.

To read Williamson's full piece that covers each AFC team (Insider content), click HERE.