Re: How would you rank our offseason needs?
posted at 1/21/2013 3:59 AM EST
I am still a little scared of Talib. Not only is he still a danger to turn back into his old self (especially if he gets a big contract), but in the 10 weeks he was here he managed to get injured twice. They were 6-3 before he joined the team and 7-2 (counting the playoffs after). After he was hurt, the Pats still forced the Ravens to punt on 3 of their next four possessions.
I know the Patriots have about $18M in cap space but that is without a long list of guys who were contributors this year (beyond Talib and Welker). Brady, Wilfork and Mankins will total about 40% of the total salary cap (their top ten contracts take up about 2/3 of the total expected cap). If they figure something out with Welker and Talib, that will put them close to $80M for next season for 12-13 players (that is letting Vollmer, Edelman, Woodhead, Chung, Arrington and Donald Thomas walk). They no players with big cap numbers they can cut to make more room either (although, they will probably renegotiate Brady and end up paying him prorated money until he is 40+).
Not sure how you go out and upgrade safety, WR and DT via free agency in that situation. They will need contributions from guys like Dowling and Wilson, plus they will need Chandler Jones and Hightower to take the next step. I think the WR and DT will have to come from the draft. The down the field receivers are there in the second round through 4th rounds (Torrey Smith 2nd, Mike Wallace 3rd, TY Hilton 3rd, Cecil Shortz 4th, Chris Givens 4th, Mike Williams 4th). Why spend FA money on a guy like Avery who averaged about the same yards per catch as Lloyd.
Solid defensive tackles can be found as well (Love and Deaderick with undrafted and 7th round respectively).
Safety is the one position I think they will need to go after in FA (they are not going to get a guy who can step in a play where they are picking). To me Jarius Byrd, Goldson (who we passed on for Steve Gregory), Kenny Phillips and William Moore are all improvements over what they have. I saw Ty Law saying that the best case for the Patriots defensive backfield is getting two new safeties and figuring out how to get McCourty back at CB with his head on straight (he said while McCourty is better than the other options they had this year, he is still not a natural safety).
Getting back to Talib, I could see a team like the Bengals who are way under cap, throwing money at him (playoff team, but it would become their #1 CB instantly).