Believe it or not, the worst part about the Patriots offseason is not the whole Deflategate fiasco.
Nope, there was an even worse moment, and it came when Darrelle Revis agreed to sign with the New York Jets over re-signing in New England.
That, and not underinflated footballs, could actually have an effect on the Patriots success on the field.
It’s no secret that the addition of Revis transformed the Patriots secondary from one of the worst to one of the best. Arguably the best cover corner in the NFL, Revis could be left alone with anybody and put them on the infamous island.
The Patriots went ahead and signed the physical Brandon Browner, too, and the rest is history.
Now, Revis and Browner are history. So is Kyle Arrington, formerly the slot corner.
This is the part where we’re supposed to tell you how the Pats replaced these guys. There’s no replacing Revis, though.
Let’s take a look at a cornerback position that has gone through a lot of change.
Front-runners: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Tarell Brown
What a difference a year makes for Malcolm Butler. Here’s a guy who went undrafted and played his way onto the team last season. Now, he’s being called the team’s best cornerback. Making one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history will do that to you. Needless to say, Butler has huge cleats to fill this season.
The one thing Logan Ryan has that many of his fellow cornerbacks don’t have is familiarity in the Patriots system. While Ryan has yet to stand out in his first two NFL seasons, he will get a big opportunity for more reps in camp.
The Pats went out and signed a few cornerbacks to short-term deals this summer including Tarell Brown. Brown has eight seasons under his belt, seven with the 49ers before playing last season with the Raiders where he made a career-high 55 combined tackles. Brown had offseason surgery on his foot, and is now ready to prove he’s fully recovered. He’s also been lining up on the opposite side of Butler early in camp.
Not far behind: Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts
Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain are two other offseason signings by the Patriots as they hope to patch together a cornerback unit that can compete. Fletcher is entering his seventh NFL season, having spent the first four in St. Louis before playing two seasons in Philadelphia. He didn’t exactly fare well in Philadelphia, though. McClain enters his fifth NFL season, and standing at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, is a smaller build than the 6-foot, 205-pound Fletcher. Like Brown and Fletcher, McClain signed a one-year deal with the Patriots.
Darryl Roberts was drafted in the 7th round by the Patriots in this year’s draft and is playing well enough that he could sneak on.
The rest: Daxton Swanson, Jimmy Jean