After a disappointing AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots entered this offseason looking to fill in some holes and try to make it to the next level. New England did make some moves, but was it enough? Could the Patriots have done more? I'll take a look at the Patriots moves this offseason and see if they did enough.NFL Draft
The New England Patriots, in true Belichick fashion, traded out of the first round for more picks. The Patriots used their first pick on Southern Miss linebacker Jamie Collins. Collins is a terrific athlete, but isn't made for the Patriots current defensive scheme and will need to take some time to learn.
Another big question mark is Belichick's affinity for Rutgers players. It's all great that Belichick likes Greg Schiano and Rutgers, but drafting three players from the school is a little overkill. The most head scratching pick was of Duron Harmon in the third round. Harmon wasn't even in attendance for the NFL Combine and it was doubtful that he was going to be drafted at all let alone the third round.
The Patriots could have done a lot better in the NFL Draft, but I have said that in years past and Belichick always surprises me, so, who knows?
The loss of Wes Welker is huge. Absolutely huge. Even worse, Welker bolted for an emerging Patriots rival in the Denver Broncos. Welker and the Patriots weren't that far off in terms of money, but Welker wanted out and out is what he got.
The signing of Danny Amendola is a solid move. Amendola is in the same mold as Wes Welker and is expected to fill his shoes. The receiving corps is still so-so, but outside of Mike Wallace and Amendola, there really wasn't that many to choose from. The Pats tried to pick up Emmanuel Sanders from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Steelers ended up keeping him in the end.
Danny Woodhead left for the Chargers, but the Pats signed former Seattle Seahawk Leon Washington, so, I say it's a push. The Patriots alright on offense considering what was on the market, but they really bungled the Welker negotiations.
The defense was the unit the Patriots looked at improving the most and they seemed to do so. The Patriots are looking to focus more on pass defense this season after seeing Joe Flacco torch the Pats in the AFC Championship game. New England ended up signing a great veteran in Adrian Wilson who is expected to be the starting strong safety for the Patriots.
More importantly for the Patriots secondary was the fact that the team re-signed Aqib Talib. Although the deal was for one year, it was a huge move by the Pats. Talib made an immediate difference from his first game with the Patriots last season, returning an interception back for a touchdown, and when Talib got hurt in the AFC Championship Game, it turned in the Ravens favor as Flacco was able to pick apart the Patriots secondary. A full season with Talib will make the secondary that much stronger and the team will have a better defense this season.
The Patriots kicked the tires on Dwight Freeney and Ed Reed, but in the end they signed elsewhere. Freeney to the Chargers and Reed to the Texans. The Patriots probably didn't have the money to sign Freeney anyway, but had a good chance at signing Reed due to the mutual admiration between he and coach Bill Belichick.
An under the radar move for the Pats this offseason could pay off huge. The Patriots signed defensive lineman Armond Armstead from the CFL Toronto Argonauts. In Armstead's only season in the CFL, he was an All-Star and helped the Argos win their 16th Grey Cup and their first since 2004. Other teams were after Armstead's services, but the Pats got there first and it could be a big deal.
So, basically the Patriots made the necessary moves to improve their defense by re-signing Talib and picking up some new names as well.
In conclusions, the New England Patriots did what they had to do to improve this team. The Patriots were close to making their second straight Super Bowl appearance last season and the team appears to have filled the holes on defense that hindered them last season. The draft could have gone better. Much better. But Belichick is an odd Machiavellian mind and I'll never doubt his football IQ.