Pats Nation: Thoughts on Free Agency
Is it possible to win the Super Bowl before the draft has even taken place? No? Ok well, if it WERE possible, then Brady and Belichick just picked up their 6th Lombardi Trophy after an uncharacteristically active start to Free Agency. After one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played (we can pretty much say that about any of the Pats' Super Bowls), Belichick wasn't content with merely winning another ring. He didn't just look at the final score and completely forget about the first 2 and a half quarters of the game which saw us dig ourselves into a 28-3 hole. He clearly thought to himself, "We need to get bigger, faster, and more athletic on both sides of the ball so this doesn't happen again". It also helped that we had something like $55 million in cap space, but that’s a different story.
When Free Agency opened, I expected the usual from the Pats. We usually don’t do shit on the first 3 days and let all the other teams spend their money. Then we swoop in at the end and sign all of the “value” free agents that are left and Bill maximizes their potential. So trust me when I say I almost had to do a double take when I saw Adam Schefter tweet that Stephon Gilmore was signing with us right when free agency opened. Not only that, but he got $40 million guaranteed?! That’s about as uncharacteristic as Belichick gets; we haven’t signed a Free Agent from another team for big money since 2003.
You know what else we haven’t done in a long ass time? Any business whatsoever with the Indianapolis Colts, and we have the frosty relationship from Deflategate to thank for that. But with new ownership, Bill was able to swing a trade for TE Dwayne Allen to make up for the departure of Martellus Bennett. Allen is another complete Tight End similar to Bennett and will provide much needed insurance for the oft-injured Gronkowski.
But Bill didn’t stop there, he had another bomb to drop. He traded our 1st round pick and a 3rd rounder for the Saints’ speedy receiver Brandin Cooks, giving Brady his first legit deep threat since the days of Randy Moss. Cooks will fit seamlessly into our offense and use his 4.3 speed to open things up for Edelman and Gronkowski underneath. He’ll have to learn to not complain after games where he doesn’t have a ton of catches, but winning usually solves all of those issues (which he wasn’t doing in NO). The best part about it is he’s ONLY 23 YEARS OLD. In terms of productivity over the past 2 years, the only two receivers that have had more success have been Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown.
Didn’t think it was possible for our offense to get scarier but it just did; this season might be reminiscent of 2007. To top off the first few days of Free Agency, we made perhaps our most important move by resigning Pro Bowl LB and Captain Dont’a Hightower. It was crucial that we resigned him after trading both Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, and he took less money to stay with us. If we can keep Malcolm Butler, this would end up being a flawless offseason for a team that just hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
Speaking of Butler, let me touch on that topic really quick. Butler (rightfully so) is angry about not only being underpaid, but the fact we just dished out huge money to Gilmore. His base salary last year was $600,000, which is criminal when you consider this guy is an All Pro Corner. He has a Restricted Free Agent offer sheet from us that he has yet to sign for $3.9 million, and his agent is all but forcing his way out of NE. But if Malcolm was smart, he would just sign the tender, play this year out, and make MORE money next year in Unrestricted Free Agency. He has no leverage in this situation, and no team is going to sign him to a big money contract AND give up the 1st Rd pick that would be required since he’s a Restricted Free Agent. Malcolm, I get that you’re angry, it’s very understandable. But there’s a long list of players who are in their 4th year and are getting grossly underpaid (see Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry). Butler will have made more money than BOTH of them through 4 years if he just signs this tender. Everyone waits 4 years until they receive their first big money contract, you’re not the only one.
So why not maybe win another Super Bowl and then bolt next year to make more money? It will be interesting to see how this scenario plays out. But until then, I might as well book my tickets to Minnesota for Super Bowl 52 right now.