OK, fine – we’ll let ‘em enjoy this one a bit longer. After all, Boston is still cleaning up after another successful parade.
It had been 10 years since the last Patriots Super Bowl – far too long for any Bostonian to wait in-between titles. So how do the Patriots become the first team since, well, the 2004 Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowls?
They have to have another strong offseason.
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The Patriots wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl without key offseason signings last year including Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell, and the re-signing of Julian Edelman.
Now with a team good enough to win a Super Bowl, they have to start figuring out how to retain some of their guys who are set to hit free agency. Keep your eye on these negotiations:
Technically Revis is not a free agent, as he signed a two-year deal with the Patriots last offseason. But that second year is worth a whopping $20 million salary, and a $25 million salary cap hit. It was put in there to give Revis the power in negotiations. The thought at the time was that Revis would reclaim his title as best corner in the NFL with a strong season for the Patriots, and either restructure a new deal with them, or hit free agency for a high price. After watching Revis shut down wide receivers all year, it’s pretty obvious the Patriots have to make it work long-term. Nobody expected the Pats to actually pick up that second year, but he was so good it almost makes you wonder if they would if a restructure. The bet here is that both sides work out a pricey extension.
Another key member of the secondary, McCourty had his best season yet – and could be considered a Pro Bowl snub after the way he patrolled the field back there. McCourty made 68 tackles, picked off two passes, and forced a fumble this year. He'll be hitting free agency for the first time in his career. When asked by CSNNE if Super Bowl XLIX was McCourty’s last game, he said, “I hope not. We'll see, but I hope not. This ride has been incredible - being in the Super Bowl twice and winning it once - there's not much a player can ask for except for being at home. And this is home." The Patriots can franchise McCourty, which would pay him over $9 million next season. To put that in perspective, McCourty’s average salary over the last five seasons was $2 million – but he’s been considered underpaid for a while. The tag isn’t that bad, and Belichick has used it in the past.
By signing LeGarrette Blount midway through the season, the Patriots not only addressed their running back void for 2014, but also next season, as Blount was signed through the 2015. Both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are set to hit free agency, but will either be back? It doesn’t seem like Ridley will be. Already having an issue holding onto the ball, Ridley tore his ACL in October, and the risk in signing him right now far outweighs the reward. Vereen is an interesting case. He seemed to be under-used this year, but came up huge in Super Bowl XLIX with a running back-record 11 receptions for 64 yards. That’s more along the lines of the production people were expecting out of Vereen as a third-down back who can catch the ball in the flat. If they can re-sign him, he makes for a nice complement to Blount, who will handle most of the carries.