As we all watched this miracle Patriots season come to an abrupt and painful end on Sunday, I immediately started to think who we could get as free agents to not feel like this again next season. Few immediate names came to mind, as well as a few reaches and reclamation projects. I had about 4 glasses of vodka, 10 beers, 3 tins of skoal, 35 buffalo wings, and a piece of cake so just bear with me please, please.
1) Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts, DE
This is an absolute reach. Mathis is going to command top defensive line money and most likely the Patriots will not be the team to deliver that, but a guy can dream. After watching a remake of the 2007 Giants super bowl win, I saw a lot of similarities. One was extremely glaring, there was no pass rush on Eli again. The Pats were missing Andre Carter who had a stellar comeback season. I get it, they got nothing out of Jermaine Cunningham this season (who I predicted to break out this year), Mark Anderson made a play or two, and Rob Ninkovich looked nothing like the man from the Broncos and Ravens games. So going out and spending a few shekels on Mathis would be a tremendous upgrade to a less than mediocre d-line. Very unlikely but would be a major upgrade and change the face of that nearly last ranked defense.
We should be fine, we have Chad Ochocino. I remember saying that to myself before the start of this season, doing whatever I could to convince myself he would be a factor and not an asshole. I was wrong. I understand we still had a tremendous offense with Welker, Gronk, Hernandez and company, but again, Bowe is a game changer much like Mathis. This 6’2″, 221 pound beast is like no other receiver we have ever had. He is big, he can jump, he has played with a QB who learned under Brady, and he came from a college where winning is everything. He notched 1,000 yards for the third time in his 5 year career (only played 11 games in one of those seasons), saw a drop in TD receptions from 15 in 2010 to 5 in 2011, but Cassell was hurt and the Chiefs offensive line was abysmal. With an elite quarterback, a stout offensive line, and dynamic playmakers around him, Bowe could get back to that 15 TD season he had in 2010. Also a high-money guy, but would love to see him in Red, White, and Blue. Oh yea, he’s only 27.
3) Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons, MLB
You want to talk about a fly under the radar type guy, well this is it. Curtis Lofton is a 4 year guy who played under the tutelage of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. Lofton has tallied at least 115 tackles in each of the last 3 seasons, 94 in his rookie year, and a career high 147 this season. He is not a pass rush guys only rendering 1 sack this season and 4 for his career but if you want to talk about stuffing the run, there are only a few better. Playing in a division where running backs can run rampant as well as catch the ball out of the backfield (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, and Mark Ingram all play in Lofton’s division) he has proved he can play with the best. At 6’0″, 240 he is not the biggest guy at his position, but when I’ve seen him play he has always made an impact. Putting him with Brandon Spikes in the middle gives you probably the best run-stopping defense in the entire AFC. It gives you the ability to put Jerod Mayo at outside linebacker and let him roam around and make plays like he likes to do. It would be a huge addition at pretty affordable money and would put a little tenacity back into a lack-luster linebacking core. 25 years old by the way.
4) Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans, CB
This defensive back out of the powerhouse university in Alabama (no not the Tide – Samford University) has made a name for himself as one of the most aggressive corner backs in the league. Lets all be honest now, there is one cornerback who stands alone in this league as the best and no one can touch him in Darrelle Revis, just wanted to clear the air and say Finnegan does not even sniff Revis, thanks. But Finnegan can play the position. He is a ball hawk, with 14 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries in 5 full seasons in the NFL. Finnegan would prove a little bit of consistency to a forever revolving secondary. Who knows what McCourty is going to be like next year after suffering a severe sophomore slump, and how long can we count on Kyle Arrington as our top corner back? Finnegan would provide an upgrade over everyone we have, while adding depth when Arrington or McCourty goes to the bench.
5) Brandon Carr, Kansas City Chiefs, CB
I feel bad shitting on the secondary like this because I couldn’t cover a retard who was blind folded, but my god do we need an upgrade. Sorry “God” with a capital G (sorry Tebow). Carr is a Division II standout from powerhouse Grand Valley State, just finished his fourth year in the league and played himself into a lucrative contract this season. The 25 year old who hails from the same town as Bruins controversial net-minder Tim Thomas (Flint, MI) ended the 2011 campaign with a career high 4 picks and put himself on the map as one of the few shutdown corners. He stands at 6′ 207 pounds which would be one of the bigger cornerbacks on the Pats squad, and much like Finnegan, would allow either McCourty or Arrington to play more of a nickle role and come off the bench. Or, allow Bellichick to move McCourty to safety (which he dabbled with this season) and start Carr and Arrington. Which already sounds like an upgrade to the slopfest he threw back there this season. Might be another guy that could fly under the radar and not command the amount of money some of the other defensive backs would lobby for. Would be nice to see, plus I don’t know if I mentioned – he’s 25.
Chances are the Patriots will trade both of their 1st round picks, both of their 2nd round picks, their only 3rd round pick for 17 5th round picks and bring back Ty Law to solve all their issues. Who knows, that might just work.