Patriots 2014 offseason: Which free agents to sign, who to let go, who to draft

Devin McCourty Aqib Talib Chandler Jones
It’s tough to find quality cornerbacks these days, injury-prone or otherwise. Credit: Getty Images

For the ninth straight season, the Patriots fell short of their season-beginning goal of becoming Super Bowl Champions. In the end for the 2013 campaign, they just didn’t have enough healthy and capable bodies to overcome a more talented Broncos team.

So, what can Bill Belichick do to improve? We’ve got some ideas.

Three free agents to consider:

Aqib Talib, CB – You already know what life without Talib looks like. He was injured in the team’s last two AFC Championship games, and opposing teams took advantage right away. Of course, that brings up the question: can he stay healthy? The Pats probably need to gamble on it. Talib is one of the few shutdown corners in the league, and having him around the next few years would solve a huge problem in the secondary.

Eric Decker, WR – We aren’t breaking any news here, but the Patriots need to give Tom Brady better options at wide receiver. Over the last two seasons, Decker has caught 172 balls for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns for Denver. Hey, they took a receiver from the Patriots last season, and now it’s time for New England to return the favor.


Tony Gonzalez, TE – Gonzalez has been in the NFL for 17 seasons, and will go down as the greatest tight end of all time. Remarkably, he’s missed just two games in his entire career. It may not take too much coaxing by Belichick to convince Gonzalez to play one more year, and join them in their quest for a Super Bowl – something Gonzalez has never won. With the uncertain health of Rob Gronkowski, Gonzalez would be some much-needed insurance, and someone who can more than fill the void.

Three free agents to let walk:

LeGarrette Blount, RB – We’ve got nothing against Blount, who ran quite beastly at points this season. The problem for burly back is that he’s on a team with two running backs who probably have a higher ceiling in New England, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Blount will likely get paid more by another team that has less depth at running back.

Brandon Spikes, LB – The writing has been on the wall for Spikes for some time now. There have been reports that he and Belichick haven’t seen eye-to-eye on things, and there were also reports that he missed a team meeting during the team’s playoff bye week. Spikes has never been a three-down linebacker, either.

Julian Edelman, WR – It’s pretty simple: the Pats already signed Danny Amendola to a five-year, $28 million deal last season. Both players play mostly inside the numbers, and the Pats need an outside threat. Amendola will have a better 2014 season, and the Pats should spend money elsewhere.

Three players the Pats should consider in the draft:

Yawin Smallwood, ILB – Smallwood, a 6-foot-4, 236-pound junior who hails from Worcester, Mass., had a great season at UConn, where he finished with 118 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and a pick. He seems like a versatile linebacker who can help in both rush and pass defense.

Anthony Johnson, DT – The Pats’ defensive line put zero pressure on Peyton Manning last Sunday. Experts say Johnson had an underwhelming year at LSU, but that could translate into a nice “value” pick for Belichick.

Zack Martin, OG/T – You can never have too much protection for your most important player, and Martin was tremendous for Notre Dame last fall.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…