Friday, May 23, 2014
Patriots offseason wrap-up
By Mike Reiss
.With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the New England Patriots' offseason moves.
Best move: Adapting to sudden change and landing cornerback Darrelle Revis when Denver swooped in at the last moment and signed Aqib Talib to a big-money deal the Patriots weren't comfortable matching in part because of the injury risk. Even Talib himself previously acknowledged that there is Revis, and then there is everyone else at the position. When free agency began, the Patriots would have been happy to retain Talib, but things changed quickly and it appears the team came out better in the end.
The Patriots tabbed Dominique Easley in the first round despite his rash of knee injuries.
Riskiest move: Selecting Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley in the first round (29th overall). No one is denying that Easley is a big-time talent, but he is coming off bilateral ACLs -- a torn ACL in each knee -- over a span of 22 months. One line of thinking is that some players are now coming back stronger after ACL tears. The other line of thinking is that it's risky to pick an undersized defensive lineman with those recent injuries moving up to the NFL to play against bigger blockers, because he might not be the same type of player he once was. From this view, it's the riskiest first-round pick of Bill Belichick's 15 years with the team. Easley has been described by some as the classic "boom or bust" prospect.
Most surprising move: The first public acknowledgement from Belichick that the team is considering contingency plans at quarterback. With Tom Brady set to turn 37 and signed through 2017, and backup Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his contract, the expectation was that the Patriots would draft a quarterback in 2014. So, in that sense, picking Jimmy Garoppolo in the late second round (62nd overall) wasn't a surprise. It's smart business. We just weren't expecting Belichick to be so open about the team's mindset.
Looking ahead: While the bulk of free agency is completed, tight end and linebacker are two spots that could potentially use a boost. The club previously hosted veterans Dustin Keller (tight end) and James Anderson (linebacker) and they could be candidates to be signed after June 1, when they wouldn't count against the compensatory draft pick formula.