I was disappointed when the Patriots got neither Aqib Talib or Richard Sherman last week. I would’ve loved to have seen either of them here, and think they would’ve been a great help to this team. The Patriots, however, did not think that the players were worth the money it would have taken to get them here. They looked at the situation of both of them, and decided that there were better options for the team. Are there better corners on the market? Probably not, but they’re not just focused on corner. They feel that they can take the money they would’ve spent on Talib or Sherman and spread that across a few different areas of need to improve the team as a whole. They have what they feel is an elite level corner, and they’re not going to pay big money for another one.
The Patriots will continue to do what they’ve been doing for years: find talent that is being under-appreciated. Whether that is someone on a different team, such as Wes Welker, Mike Vrabel, and Rob Ninkovich, or in the draft, such as Dont’a Hightower, Trey Flowers, and Malcolm Mitchell. They are going to take chances on guys who no one wants anymore like Dion Lewis, or who no one wanted at all, like Malcolm Butler, who wasn’t even a UDFA, but a camp body they took into camp to give them a full squad.
They acquire these players in a multitude of different ways. Sometimes they trade for them like they did with Randy Moss, Martellus Bennett, and, this year, Danny Shelton. Sometimes they are small free agent signings that don’t make any news, like Roman Phifer, Kyle Van Noy, and Lawrence Guy. Sometimes they even break the bank in free agency if they think the player is a serious need or an elite talent, like Adalius Thomas and Stephon Gilmore.
Whatever they do, you can be sure they are thinking about the future of the team. Building a great team is not about one year or even a few years. Bill Belichick has built his team to have sustained success in a format where that is not supposed to happen. They’ve now played in 7 consecutive AFC Championship games, and 4 of the last 7 Super Bowls. That success is something that is not an accident. It is a plan that is put in place and executed. Sometimes, they stray from the model to greatly improve the team, but I’m not sure Sherman or Talib apply to that. I understand the stats, but Sherman is coming off a major injury and just turned 30. If he loses a half a step, he’s not nearly as good as he has been in the past. Taking that risk goes against the model of how this whole thing was built. Low risk, high reward players have been the backbone of this team, and I, for one, am hoping for more of the same this year.
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast