Transactions have only been going on around the NFL for a few days now. For our local, defending champion Patriots, there have been quite a few changes that make this team different than the one that won a title not even two months ago. Here what has happened so far:
New England has resigned top free agent Dont’a Hightower, who helped lead the Patriots to two Super Bowl victories. Hightower would have been very difficult to replace on what was the stingiest defense in 2016. His return can definitely help the Patriots return to the championship.
The Patriots traded with the Saints for Brandin Cooks. What was already an efficient offense added what can be perceived as a new most dangerous weapon. Cooks is one of only a few receivers to top 8 touchdowns, 1000 yards, and 75 catches in each of the past two seasons. Drew Brees is a great quarterback. Now put him with Brady. Give Brady a target who can stretch the field, lining up with Edelman, Gronk (maybe) and the rest of the bunch to somehow score even more touchdowns. With speed like this, how can you stop him?
The Patriots have also traded for Dwayne Allen from the Colts to replace Bennett as the second tight end, or first when Gronk cannot play. Dwayne Allen is an excellent blocker, who will help the Patriots both through the air and on the ground.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots are bringing in some replacements. Kony Ealy has had 14 sacks during the regular seasons of his career, but is best known for getting three sacks and causing Peyton Manning to turn the ball over twice during Super Bowl 50. They only had to trade down 8 picks to land Ealy. That should be labeled as a steal.
Aside from the trade front, the Patriots have made a major signing by bringing in Stephon Gilmore from the Bills. With five interceptions last season, Gilmore was one of the top cornerbacks in the entire league in 2016, and should help a Patriots defense that was the stingiest across the NFL.
Who might be leaving:
Malcolm Butler, a Super Bowl hero, was given a first-round tender when he did not agree to an extension with the Patriots. This means that any team that signs Butler has to give up a first round pick, and the Patriots can match any offer if they choose to. They’ll either add Butler or a first round pick. If he returns, the Patriots secondary could be elite.
After leading the league in touchdowns last season, LaGarrette Blount currently does not have a contract. A 1000 yard rusher, he had the best season of his career at the age of thirty. Despite his age, someone will give him a contract.
What they should do:
Take a chance trading Jimmy Garappollo. Tom Brady just won a Super Bowl, and has no plans of retiring any time soon. With that in mind, the quarterback behind him probably won’t be his replacement. It’s time to move on from Garappollo, and give him the chance he deserves. With all of the trades they have made, they could use some early picks for a backup.
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