The Patriots have made a number of moves defensively so far this offseason.
One of the most important was retaining Aqib Talib for another season. While not placing the franchise tag on Talib they saved themselves $5.6m for the season. Talib appeared to solidify the cornerbacks when he came in to the team in November and he gives Alfonzo Dennard support as Dennard enters into his second year starting for New England.
The Pats resigned Kyle Arrington to a four year contract, which is not a move I was hoping for, but I’m assured by people I’ve spoken to that Arrington is not entirely useless as an inside corner. Time will tell.
There has been no word as yet on cornerback Marquice Cole, but Cole projects to be a second string back at best, so his signing is not really imperative. Ras-I Dowling is still under contract and is expected to return and play a part, providing he can stay fit.
Adrian Wilson has been signed to give the secondary some stability and the seemingly ever injured Pat Chung has been released. Chung played well for the Patriots at times over the course of his four seasons at the Gillette stadium but his injury history spoke louder than his play. Wilson will add experience at safety and won’t cost the earth.
The rest of the core group of safeties remain in tact. Devin McCourty will look to get back to his best, while Steve Gregory will be hoping to build on a largely successful first season in New England, the AFC Championship excluded, and Tavon Wilson will hope to develop further in year two.
New England have been quiet on the pass rush front, but it is believed that there is interest in either Dwight Freeney of the Colts, the Falcons John Abraham and perhaps most interestingly Elvis Dumervil of the Denver Broncos.
I believe that Dumervil will work something out with the Broncos despite last week’s monumental mess up with the contract. Still, if they can’t work it out it’d be nice to have a player of Dumervil’s ability rushing the passer for the Pats. Abraham is possibly the most likely of the three players mentioned to sign, but demand is there for him and he is testing the market, though if reports are to be believed Abraham has a meeting scheduled with New England for Friday.
Defensive End Trevor Scott is out of contract but it is unknown if the desire is there to retain him, after all, Scott only registered three sacks and 14 tackles in 14 games this season. That is hardly productive.
Linebacker Tracy White is also a free agent and I don’t see any real reason for keeping White around unless there is no one else available, White could possibly still do a back up job but he isn’t anything more. While Niko Koutouvides has signed for a year, the Patriots still need to add some linebackers to back up Hightower, Mayo and Spikes.
So, with the cornerbacks and safeties looking reasonably solid this year it seems New England will look to improve areas of the defense while leaving the defensive backs largely unchanged.
The Patriots also need a couple of pass rushers to allow Chandler Jones to blossom, as well as giving Vince Wilfork some talented help in the middle, wouldn’t you say?
New England did sign DT Armond Armstead in January from the CFL but it remains to be seen if Armstead can make the step up.