Very thorough, George. I'm not as knowledgeable of the pluses and minuses of some of these guys, but I agree that CB is still a big need. Talib should be a priority, but I don't know if they will be willing to pay him what he wants.
I think Gregory came along in the second half of the season, and McCourty has certainly found his niche. But beyond that S is a crap shoot, so quality depth is important there as well.
Receiver may be just as important, considering (a) potential departure of Welker, (b) probable departure of Branch, (c) underwhelming year from Lloyd (not a field stretcher, and never got on the same page with Brady), and (d) dare I say it, Brady's closing window. If Edelman were to leave, we could be left with Lloyd, Slater, and whoever is on the PS!
Since it's hard to address all areas at once, I looked at the front 7 as being pretty well in hand. Wilfork, Deaderick, Love, Scott, Francis, Ninkovich, and Jones gives us versatility up front. But I do like the idea of Ninko moving back to LB. He can rush from stand-up, and he's reasonably good in coverage.
Mayo and Spikes are solid, but I hope Hightower develops. He has shown promise, but I thought he disappeared at times. Maybe just learning the system has been a struggle.. Still not sold on Cunningham. He gets you interested for a game or two, then you forget he's even on the team.
Anyway, a lot of time to go, and I really should learn more about some of the options. Will be interesting...
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, George Richman wrote:
> OK, Frank, since we now have nothing else "Patriots related" to discuss
> here, I'll play. :-)
> First, I'll give you my opinions on your list of Patriots' FAs. But I'll
> add the caveat that, as always, we don't have all the information needed to
> make the financial'CAP decisions that largely determine FA signings,
> whether our own, or new additions. So these preferences we list are really
> nothing more than our feelings about whether each player has significant
> importance to our team. That said, my opinions follow the ellipses :
> > We have a number of FAs. Who should we try to retain?
> > Woodhead (yes) ... Not so sure. Vereen is a "more talented" Woodhead.
> > Ridley, Vereen, Bolden, + a true FB better roster?
> > Brace (no) ... Already cut, I believe. Not on current roster at
> > Patriots.com
> > Edelman (yes) ... Yes. Solid on PRs (although Demps may take over there).
> > Solid WR backup. Versatile & valuable for it.
> > Welker (yes) ... Yes, with major caveat on the cost issue. Can we afford
> > what he'll ask? Will he accept what we can afford?
> > Hooman (maybe) ... Maybe. If he's cheap, he's a decent #3 TE.
> > Vollmer (yes, if his back is OK) ... Yes, if his back is OK. :-)
> > J. Richard (no) ... No
> > D. Thomas (yes) ... Yes. Should be cheap enough.
> > B. Waters (yeah, right) ... Done
> > T. Scott (yes) ... Yes. I remain a big fan of this guy as a backup/pass
> > rush DE.
> > D. Fletcher (yes) ... Yes. Versatile. STs asset. Decent as a backup LB.
> > Koutavides (no) ... Yes, if cheap enough. Decent STs guy, and improving at
> > LB.
> > T. White (maybe) ... Yes. Solid STs player. One of our best. Adequate as a
> > backup LB.
> > W. Allen (no) ... No. At 35, can't help enough. We can do better at a
> > needed position.
> > M. Cole (no) ... No. I hope we can do better. He's an OK STs guy, but a
> > liability in the secondary.
> > Talib (yes) ... Yes. Most critical re-signing on the team. Yes, over
> > Welker!
> > Chung (no) ... No. He's been an injury prone bust. Look for better in the
> > draft or FA.
> > J. Barrett (maybe) ... Maybe. Didn't see enough of him to be firm on it.
> > Replace Chung?
> > D. Martin (who?) ... No. 7 seasons, 97 tackles, 8 passes defensed, 3 INTs.
> > Why is he here?
> > OK, that done, let me give you my targets (with all those caveats noted
> earlier in place) for FA acquisitions. Also, as you said, it's very early
> to be doing this, since some of these guys may well be re-signed by their
> current teams, and I haven't included many who almost certainly will be,
> like Cruz and Wallace, as you mentioned. My targets, in order of the
> priority I'd assign to them; which for me, means that CBs come first!:
> Signing one of these CBs would be my top FA priority, exceeded only by
> re-signing our own Aqib Talib. FIX THE SIEVE!
> CB Brent Grimes (ATL) IF healthy. Had a season ending injury.
> CB Sean Smith (MIA) Big CB to deal with today's big WRs, or TEs in nickel.
> CB Cary Williams (BAL) With Talib taking the deep guys, Williams would be
> great on short-intermediate routes.
> Dominique Rodgers-Cromarite (PHI). Like Williams, he'd take the #2 or #3
> (I'd see any of the above competing with Dennard for the #2 CB spot, behind
> Talib; with the "loser" going to nickel/backup.)
> There are 4 Safeties who would be high priorities for me. Any of them would
> be significant upgrade for us at S. It's likely, however, that all 4 will
> re-sign with their current teams. But, since we're just dreaming here, I'd
> love to add one of these guys:
> S Dashon Goldson (SF)
> S William Moore (ATL)
> S Jairius Byrd (BUF)
> S Louis Delmas (DET)
> The defensive line, while fairly solid at the starting positions, could
> still be upgraded at DE on the left side, moving Ninko back to LB; and at
> DT, where Deaderick and Love, while young and improving some, don't look
> like future stars. So there are a couple of guys who could, IMO, make our
> DL the best in the league, with Wilfork and C. Jones already set:
> DE Micheal Johnson (CIN)
> DE Cliff Avril (DET)
> DT Henry Melton (CHI)
> DT Randy Starks (MIA)
> OK, that need for a deep threat WR finally makes it as my 5th outside FA
> priority, behind CB, S, DE, and DT. Good chance, say the rumors, that both
> of these guys could be ready to move on from their current teams. But they
> would be uber expensive! Point here is that, for me, either would be better
> for our team than re-signing Welker. Let Gronk, Hernandez, Lloyd, Vereen,
> and Edelman handle the short - intermediate stuff, and add a genuine deep
> WR Greg Jennings (GB)
> WR Dwayne Bowe (KC)
> Those 5 positions are the only ones that I see a significant priority for
> our team. We're set at QB, and, except for possibly adding a FB (which the
> Patriots don't seem prone to do), I like what we have at RB. I trust
> Dante's work with our OL, though Vollmer's back might be a concern, at
> least for depth, if we re-sign him; and there's always room for improvement
> in OL depth, if the right deal comes along. I think we have all we need at
> LB, with Hightower, the still improving Spikes, and All Pro Mayo; plus
> Ninkovich, Cunningham, and Scott as "tweeners" who can play both DE and
> OLB. Depth can always be improved; but it's not on my list of high
> priorities in the off season. Although, since the team has so few Draft
> picks this year, they may be much more active in the mid-low FA market than
> they have been in the past for depth searches at many positions,
> particularly LB, DT and OL.
> That's my in depth look at the FA action for the Patriots this off season.
> Any comments?
> (I'm actually going to save this for my own "look back" later this year.)
> -- George