These past 48 hours of free agency and the off-season in general have been somewhat one of the craziest it’s been and on of the more entertaining we have seen. We’ve seen some good moves and some really questionable ones as well. There are definitely some losers and winners of the off-season, BUT…. then there are THE winners of the off-season.
The New England Patriots are by far THE winners of the off-season so far. They started their off-season frenzy by trading for tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts. A move similar to what they did last off-season when acquiring pro bowl tight end, Martellus Bennett, from the Chicago Bears. Dwayne Allen, when healthy, is a solid player that’s athletic at his position and can block as well. Just another added piece for Tom Brady to play around with Rob Gronkowski’s health in the air.
The Patriots then decide to sign pro bowl cornerback and former Buffalo Bills player, Stephon Gilmore to a 5-year, $65 million deal with $45 million in guaranteed money. This move opened a lot of eyebrows, mine included. I thought if they were going to pay any DB’s some money, they would have taken care of Malcolm Butler first. Butler’s future with the team is still a mystery because the #2 CB for the Patriots the past few seasons, Logan Ryan, signed a 3-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. Butler may very well stay with the team and lineup on the other side of Gilmore, forming quite the corner duo. There are rumors however that the Patriots have still discussed a trade with the New Orleans Saints surrounding Malcolm Butler. The Patriots get a tall and physical corner in Stephon Gilmore who has a knack for the ball. He can either be a great addition or a great disappointment.
The Patriots would then work out a trade with the Carolina Panthers to bring in defensive end Kony Ealy. Ealy is a young edge rusher that has potential and who better to tap into potential than a defensive genius like Bill Belichick? Ealy would be heading into his 4th year in the league. In his 1st 3 seasons, he’s been able to register at least 4 sacks. With some true coaching and culture change, Belichick may be able to help Ealy become a dangerous part of the defense, especially in the pass defense.
Last but not least, for now, the Patriots worked out a deal with the New Orleans Saints to trade for the young and explosive services of wide receiver, Brandin Cooks, in exchange for draft picks including this year’s #32 overall pick. So the Patriots didn’t have to give up a single player for any of the four new players they have acquired. Cooks can go deep for the Patriots and sometimes can line up in the slot. Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan are all 29+ years old. Cooks is just 23 years old with massive talent and potential, which is absolutely scary because he’s been a really great receiver catching passes from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. Now imagine Cooks catching passes from the G.O.A.T. Yeah… fireworks!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 11, 2017
What would put the cherry on top for the Patriots this off-season is if they can somehow manage to re-sign Malcolm Butler and Dont’a Hightower. They both remain without new deals, but are drawing interest from other teams either it’s through free agency or via trade. I thought Dont’a Hightower was priority #1 this off-season for the Patriots, but as always we never know what the Patriots will be up to next. I still think Hightower is a priority because he has grown into the quarterback of the defense and is valuable to the team, but Belichick has shown that the only person that’s untouchable (so far) is Tom Brady. Other than that, they’ll find your replacement one way or another.
The Patriots by far are WINNING the off-season, not even close. Other teams have gotten better, but in this case, the rich get richer. It’s kind of unfair, but this is the reality. Anything less than a championship next year for the Patriots is a bust. Only time will tell.