It’s time to clean out the house, time to shuffle the faces and time for the 2012 New England Patriots to start looking toward 2013 after they failed to show up in the second half of their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Ravens in Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
As is the case every year, the team has a host of free agents that they need to make decisions on. Eighteen of their 20 free agents heading into the offseason are unrestricted and if the team doesn’t do anything to lock them up, they could be gone like that.
If the front office is having any trouble, they can just ask me. I’d be glad to help. Here’s my first offseason addition of will they or won’t they. (Hint: Both Wes Welker and Aqib Talib need to be back).
Will Allen: The former first-round pick has had a decent career and certainly could have been able to help in the Patriots secondary this season, but he has played in just 21 games since 2009, missing entire campaigns in both 2010 and 2012. Of course, as he was drafted almost 12 years ago now, age is going to be a question. Would he be able to keep up with the fast and physical tight ends around the league like, oh, I don’t know, Dennis Pitta for instance as a 34-year-old coming off of whatever injury he had. I’m just not sure it would work out like that. I’d cut Allen loose.
Kyle Arrington: Assuming the team does bring Talib back for his first full season, Arrington’s role would be that of a third corner in nickel situations or when injuries occur, like in Sunday’s game when Talib went down. In that game, particularly in the second half, Joe Flacco was pretty much throwing the ball at will with Arrington and Marquice Cole in the secondary. In 2011, Arrington led the league with seven interceptions. In 2012, however, he had zero. If he is okay with his role as a third corner, then I wouldn’t hate to see him brought back in 2013, but for less than the $1.85M he made this year.
Josh Barrett: In the five years since getting drafted out of Arizona St., Barrett has barely touched the turf during the regular season. Though he has shown signs of strong play and intelligence, his consistent ability to get injured has done neither him nor the team any good. Though he should be ready for the 2013 season after a calf injury has held him out for more than a year, he just might be playing it with another team. I’d let this one go too.
Deion Branch: Branch only returned to the team in 2012 following the injury to Aaron Hernandez in Week 1 of the season. He was cut by the team in the preseason. At 33 years old, he isn’t getting any younger. While Tom Brady still trusts him as much as anyone else, Branch had just 29 targets on the season, an indication that even if the team may want him back, he might not be willing. I predict that one way or another, Branch will not be a Patriot for the 2013 regular season. That is, until someone gets hurt.
Patrick Chung: Chung’s play and presence on the field has declined in each of the last two seasons, culminating with him losing his starting safety job to Steve Gregory in 2012 and seeing most of his playing time come on special teams. With both Gregory and Devin McCourty expected back next season, Chung may be the odd man out at safety. He could always be used as a backup and a spot defender, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that he could be a starting safety on a lot of other teams in the league. I wouldn’t be shocked if Chung has played his last game as a Patriot.
Marquice Cole: Aside from being a pretty decent gunner, Cole doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of secondary play. Only used as a defensive back when there were six or seven of them on the field or, like Arrington, when there were injuries, Cole is the kind of player who makes his money on special teams. His speed, particularly utilized at the gunner position, can also be helpful on the coverage teams. If he wants to come back, I’d have no problem seeing No. 23 in blue again next season.
Julian Edelman: When Edelman went down with a broken leg on Dec. 2 against the Dolphins, there was talk about that potentially being his last game as a member of the Patriots. Assuming the team does decide to re-sign Welker, Edelman may not be needed or wanted. His real value to the team is in the punt return game and not as a play-making wide receiver. If Welker is lost, which I don’t see happening, then Edelman would appear more likely to return to the team in 2013. I guess it kind of depends on what happens with Wes, but it is very possible that Edelman does not return to the team next season.