Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Pats sign their own, but must look outside
By Tim Graham
The New England Patriots continue to welcome back their players in free agency.
On Tuesday, they finalized a four-year contract for cornerback Leigh Bodden and formally announced they'd re-signed nose tackle Vince Wilfork and right guard Stephen Neal. They previously re-signed outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.
New England did lose a player. The Denver Broncos signed defensive end Jarvis Green to a four-year contract. Green was a key reserve and pass-rush specialist who'll be remembered for his 2.5 sacks of Peyton Manning in the 2003 AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots' re-signings so far are indicative of a strong organization. They're bringing back their players, keeping them financially happy and not necessarily chasing around other unrestricted free agents.
But ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi believes they need to make a greater effort to look outside the organization to upgrade their roster and keep up with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
"These moves had to be completed," Bruschi said in a video segment for ESPNBoston.com. "However, they need help."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Boston sports radio station WEEI on Tuesday they've reached terms with free-agent Jets defensive end Marques Murrell, but that's a depth signing. Murrell has zero NFL starts in three seasons. Various outlets have reported the Patriots are close to signing St. Louis Rams tight end Daniel Fells.
That's not the type of help Bruschi was referring to.
"Who is going to play outside linebacker for them, especially if Adalius Thomas is no longer a member of this team?" Bruschi asked. "If Wes Welker's rehabilitation takes longer than expected, they need another receiver.
"These are areas that have to be addressed via free agency. They've been very quiet up to this point. Re-signing their players is important, but they need help. They need to get off the fence and start signing some players to be competitive in this AFC East because the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are getting better with every signing that they make."