A few thoughts on the flurry of activity from the Patriots:
- For both sides, I like the one-year, $5-million deal for Aqib Talib. A five-year deal with the Patriots was discussed (he definitely had two offers elsewhere), but obviously it wasn’t a realistic offer or else Talib would have accepted it. I don’t think the Patriots wanted to go much beyond one year with Talib. He’s too much of a character and injury risk. The team is absolutely right to think that way. Good move.
- A one-year deal also provides a lot of incentive for Talib to behave himself and prove himself on the field. Of course if he does that, the Patriots can just slap him with the franchise tag next year. But that’s way down the line. And as soon as Talib signs it, it’s guaranteed. A lot of risk there.
- Talib signing for one year and $5 million is further proof that he’s not as good as everyone wants to believe he is. Percy Harvin proved again that if you’re elite, it doesn’t matter how much trouble you are — you’re going to get paid. If Talib was an elite player, he would have received an elite offer — even for one year — and he did not.
- More than anything, I would like to see Talib take care of himself physically. Despite having six weeks off in the middle of last season, he only played 39 percent of the snaps he could have for the Patriots. It’s not good that he already has a history of hip and thigh problems at cornerback. It’s a sign that he’s not doing the maintenance that he should. The Patriots should lock him in a hot yoga studio until training camp.
- I expect the Patriots to add at least one more cornerback in free agency, perhaps one in the draft.
- Probably the thing I like most about bringing Talib and Kyle Arrington — and hopefully keeping Devin McCourty at safety — back is the stability. There have been too many moving parts in the Patriots’ secondary for several years now. It means the team had to start very basic and it took them a while to develop a full repertoire of pressures and coverages — nearly to the end of the year. Now the Patriots can pick up where they left off last year, which should make them much better at the start of the season. They have stunk for at least three years now early on in the season.
- As far as safety Adrian Wilson, I need to watch more film on him, but I think it’s a perfect fit in that he can either grab a big role, or is the type of leader and team player who can be fine with a smaller role and can help mentor Tavon Wilson and McCourty.
- I wouldn’t equate him to Rodney Harrison — who was 30 and possibly using a few things when he came here. Wilson is 33. He was benched last season in passing situations for the Cardinals. Different scheme, so maybe he can do more here. We’ll have to see how it goes. But he’s a terrific guy to have on the team. They don’t come much better.
- As for where things stand with Steelers restricted free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders, there is no signed offer sheet. That’s not unusual. First of all, the player has to agree to the terms — he might not — and the signing team usually tries to time it so it’s harder for the other team to match. Patriots might be waiting for the Steelers to take up more cap space. Lessens the chance they can match. Or help the Steelers wreck their cap.
- I would expect the Patriots to add a veteran end — John Abraham and/or Dwight Freeney — at some point soon. Abraham is more of a fit, but the Patriots really respect Freeney.
- Thing about Freeney is that, at least before free agency, he was dead-set on signing with a team where he would be an every-down player. The Colts told him he was only a situational player. That bothered Freeney. But his tune may have changed.
- The way the market is going, wouldn’t be surprised to see Sebastian Vollmer have to come back on a one-year deal as well. All the better.
- Patriots have done a great job gauging this market. Stellar. We’ll just see if they get the right pieces, again.
Finally, a look at the updated needs list that I had before free agency started. Some of these can be filled in a draft that is deep at receiver, cornerback, offensive line and defensive line: