Now that the Patriots season has come to an unfortunate end, it’s time to look ahead to free agency, which starts on March 12th.
To begin, let’s take a look at the Patriots on the current roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents this year.
Wes Welker: Although he seems to be the number one priority for the Patriots to deal with this year, Wes Welker’s contract situation with the New England remains unclear to an outsider’s perspective. After unsuccessful negotiations last off season, the Patriots and Welker will look to try to get a deal done before free agency gets under way. If they are unable to do that, I see the Patriots letting Welker test the market, and then trying to match an offer made by another team. It’s possible that the Patriots use the franchise tag on him, but that’s unlikely, and they will use the franchise tag elsewhere. New England feels that they can succeed without Welker, so they are not going to overpay to keep him, but I’m sure they will do their best get Wes Welker back in a Patriots uniform for next season given that he has been one of the most productive players in the league since he joined New England in 2007.
Aqib Talib: Talib has had his fair share of off-field issues, but proved to the Patriots why he was Tampa Bay’s first round draft pick back in 2008. It seems as though Talib has molded to the “Patriot Way” and dealt with his off the field problems, and is focused on contributing to the New England secondary. He has had an immediate impact on the Patriots defense since debuting against the Colts, a game in which he returned an interception for a touchdown. Talib allows New England to move Devin McCourty from corner to safety, where he is better suited because of his great range and instincts. Talib’s man coverage abilities also allow the Patriots to use more variety in their defensive packages, given his solid one-on-one play. It is clear the impact that Aqib Talib has when he is on the field, and he is a must to resign for the Patriots, regardless of him being somewhat injury prone.
*Images from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1414000-colts-vs-patriots-aqib-talib-could-bring-new-englands-secondary-together, http://gomadden.com/content/fantasy/fantasy-free-agent-wes-welker-2013/*