If you were giving a grade on the Patriots' free-agent activity to this point, what would it be?
The question came to mind after reading a team-by-team breakdown by Nate Davis of USA Today, in which the Patriots were viewed as one of the league's big losers based on the present snapshot. Davis gives the Patriots a D-plus.
"The jury is out on what amounts to a free agent swap of Welker for younger but less durable Danny Amendola, and no one will be watching more closely than QB Tom Brady with his new cap-friendly deal. CB Aqib Talib is back, and maybe S Adrian Wilson is the next coming of Rodney Harrison. And there appear to be several more irons currently in the fire, so this grade may soon require revision. But the receiving corps looks weaker without Welker and Brandon Lloyd, and you have to wonder what the Patriots see in Donald Jones that the Bills didn't. And whither right tackle Sebastian Vollmer?"
In Davis' view, only the Redskins and Bengals are graded lower at this point.
This is a theme that also surfaced in our weekly ESPNBoston chat on Thursday, with some chatters disappointed in the Patriots' moves at this point. Clearly, Wes Welker's defection is a big part of the mindset.
A few counterpoints were brought up in the chat: "It's an incomplete picture. ... If we look at some of the most successful teams in the NFL over the years, this is a time they use to complement their core, not create it ... The re-signing of Talib was critical ... Scott Pioli notes that they don't give out a trophy for spending the most money, or spending it the fastest; it's about spending smartly."