A challenging week of fighting off the flu, March Madness busting my bracket, and a happy, happy McSorley's Irish Black Lager full St. Paddys. Since I've been busier than I should be, I will keep the focus on the local free agency madness...
- The Patriots, as per usual, watching laughing as the usual gang of idiots throwing obscene dollars at players (some worth it, most not). The Buccaneers and Redskins led the madness out of the gate. Tampa Bay wasted millions on Guard Carl Nicks (worth every penny), Receiver Vincent Jackson (Umm, so much wasted talent and untapped production in San Diego), and Cornerback Eric Wright (overpaid); Washington made Tampa Bay's spending seem intelligent as they threw millions at Receiver Pierre Garcon (sooooo much cash for sooooo little), Cornerback Cedric Griffin (overpaid), Safety Brandon Merriweather (bwah-hah-hah! Bwah-hah-hah! Sorry, this is too sad to do anything but laugh. That bum must have the greatest agent ever. Washed out from playing for Bill Belichick and Lovie Smith and another team still finds a reason to pay him. Sad.) and last and certainly the least, Wide Receiver Josh Morgan (no talent, no game, no reason to pay).
- The Patriots, as usual, were boring. They signed the best deep-threat receiver in football in Receiver Brandon Lloyd (most targets and receptions on passes thrown over 20 yards over the last two years) and reuniting him with Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels seems to be what gets the best play out of Lloyd. The fact that there was no market for him was not surprising. The fact the Patriots got him at the insanely affordable 3 years and $12 million total seems mind-boggling in comparison to the 5 years and $60 million Washington doled out to Garcon. Also, the Patriots took a low-risk, high-potential flyer on Receiver Anthony Gonzalez of the Colts who provides hold-out insurance if Wes Welker cannot work out a deal and a hold-out ensues. Gonzalez was a first-round pick, but various injuries kept him off the field after a strong start.
- Finally, Center Dan Connolly re-signed to keep the offensive line in one piece. Whether Center Dan Koppen is invited back to compete with Connolly is unknown at this time, and one assumes there is a market for Koppen, but nothing is certain at this point of free agency. Expect the Patriots to add some interior line help late in the draft again in hopes of finding another lineman or two to build for the future.
- WIth Lloyd and Gonzalez in the fold, Deion Branch becomes (if he returns) a nice depth option, which is what he is at this point of his career. Branch filling the role of Chad Ochocinco is a huge upgrade, and the countdown to the release of Ocho-stinko becomes the only reason to pay attention to the fraud.
- On defense, the Patriots continued to make smart, cost-efficient moves. They added Defensive End Jonathan Fanene who was a high-motor, pass-rusher for Cincinnati and would seem to be a great back-up to come in and play on third down as Mark Anderson did before Andre Carter was injured and Anderson stepped-up to full-time. With Anderson and Carter still un-signed, the Patriots may be able to bring one or both back. Safety Steve Gregory adds some depth at safety and special teams. Defensive End Trevor Scott is another low-risk with potential high-reward signing.
- Much like the Bill Belichick Patriots did back their glory days of adding unknown, but talented role players and perfect fits to their system, and those low-risk, high-reward players on the free-agency market. The depth on defense is improved, the gaping hole on offense is filled, and (oh yeah, forgot to mention) special teams depth remains high. Now, time to focus on the draft!