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Things are starting to kick into high gear for off-season moves. A lot of new faces is a lot of new places.  For the Pats I was sure the Defense would be the priority, but seems thus far they have upgraded the offense more then I thought they would. 

On the defensive side they re-signed Marcus Harrison, Tracy White and Nico Koutovides and signed free agents Trevor Scott (DE), Marquice Cole (CB), Steve Gregory (CB), and Jonathan Fanene (DE), a good move as he is a good pass rusher, which we needed.

On the offensive side the Pats re-signed Dan Connolly (C), Deion Branch (WR)  and Matthew Slater (WR/ST). I was definitely shocked by the number of WRs they signed, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth, Brandon Lloyd, and also signed Daniel Fells (TE). Also signed Robert Gallery (G).

Tom Brady re-worked his contract to give the Pats about $8M more in cap room this year and OchoCinco also is taking a $2M less to stay with the Pats. Also just heard that the Eagles are putting Asante Samuels on the trading block, not sure if the Pats would be interesting in bringing him back, but weirder things have happened.

To say the least, it has been interesting so far and I'm looking forward to the draft next month.


March 26, 2012  11:14 PM ET

Saw that about Asante and agree the Pats won't take another look at him. Unless it's for a one-year deal. He didn't exactly leave on the best of terms after that Super Bowl loss.

April 2, 2012  08:48 PM ET

Who in the hell are all these people viewing the blog but not bothering to comment?

April 16, 2012  06:12 PM ET

Nick Underhill, sportsreporter for the Springfield Republican certainly has a way with words.

BELICHICK PROPERLY PLAYED FREE AGENCY, Now he has to make it count in the draft.

It hasn???t exactly been an exciting winter for New England Patriots fans.

Some of you may even consider it a disappointment.

You wanted Mike Wallace and were instead given Brandon Lloyd. Your cries for Mario Williams were heard, processed, and answered by signing Bobby Carpenter.

The Patriots acquired a gaggle of players this winter but the headlines were about as exciting as a tree falling in a forest. Stephen Gregory? This wasn???t the splash fans were looking for.

And even though most casual observers have never heard of any of the players New England signed outside of Lloyd, this will probably end up going down as one of the best played free-agency periods of Bill Belichick???s career.

We know how Hoodie operates, but for some reason we still struggle to view things from his perspective. It???s natural to look at Williams, recall images of the Patriots??? anorexic pass rush, see all the open cap space and peg him into the role, but something like that will never happen.

Belichick doesn???t want those guys. He doesn't sign stars, he makes them. When they price out, most of the time he lets them walk.

Tedy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork, Mike Vrable and even Tom Brady rose to stardom in the system, and only Brady truly transcended the Foxborough city limits and rose to true superstar status.

Randy Moss was also in Brady???s class, but he came to the team under a special set of circumstances and only landed here because it didn???t cost anything to acquire him. If he hadn't, we would still be wondering what it would be like if Brady was even given an elite receiver.

The fact of the matter is that a player like Wallace was never going to fit. Despite our best efforts to twist the pieces and wedge him into the puzzle, he requires too much attention and has too many demands to ever identify with the name on the front of his jersey.

We???re talking about a player that wants to be the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Do you really think he???d be happy sprinting up and down the field 30 times a game as a decoy while Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker clean up underneath?

It makes for an awesome roster in Madden, but unfortunately life doesn???t always imitate art.

Still, that doesn???t make it any easier to sit back and watch as players like Williams land in Buffalo while Belichick is busy gathering a bunch of guys whose chief responsibility will be to drip oil into the rest of the cogs.

It???s hardly sexy, but rest assured, it was exactly what was needed.

By singing those glue guys, Belichick can now focus on addressing this team???s true needs ??? lack of depth and talent at safety, an edge rusher ??? with New England???s two first-round picks in next week???s draft.

Now he just has to go out and finds those players instead of trading the picks away for future opportunities. This may be a fine-tuned Lamborghini already, but the paint could still use some touching up.

April 16, 2012  06:16 PM ET

"We're talking about a player that wants to be the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Do you really think he'd be happy sprinting up and down the field 30 times a game as a decoy while Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker clean up underneath?"

Now I understand why they re-signed Ochocinco.

April 17, 2012  02:48 PM ET

Welker was a no-show at voluntary workouts Monday; usually he's the one that arrives early. Seems the problem isn't the 9.5mil he'll earn this season that is the problem, it's the fact that it's only a one-year deal. Sounds like the 30-year old is thinking the 2012 season will be his last with the Pats.

April 18, 2012  06:51 PM ET

Ya know what this cave needs? String lights.

April 27, 2012  03:00 PM ET

You could have knocked me over with a feather last night. BB traded UP on is two first-round picks. That never,ever happened before to my knowledge, at least. So here's the skinny on the two players.
Chandler Jones:Pass rush: Relies on hustle, vision and strength as a pass rusher. Times the snap well and has a good initial burst off the line. Lacks sustained speed around the corner, however, and will have a hard time beating NFL offensive tackles to the outside. Very long arms and an effective swim move, though he doesn't use this often enough. Good rip move. Good upper body strength and quick hands to knock away the blocker's attempts to control him. Good leg drive for the bull rush, though Jones struggles with pad level, at times. Very good vision and effort. Plays to the whistle. Run defense: Good upper body strength and length to lock-out his opponent. Has at least moderate lateral
agility to ride the block to the sideline and keep contain, though he's a bit stiff in changing directions and has only average speed, overall, for the position. Good vision to locate the football on the draw or QB scramble. Quick to break off his pass rush and pursue downfield. Recognizes the cut block but has only average balance overall to avoid it due to his high-cut frame. Explosion: Possesses a quick burst off the line which is enhanced by his ability to time the snap count. Does not have the speed to turn the corner consistently. Good upper body strength to drive his opponent into the backfield on the bull rush but lacks true explosiveness to rock them back onto their heels. Is a wrap and drag down tackler more than an explosive hitter than ball-carriers need to fear. Strength: Flashes upper-body strength to rip past blockers and lower-body strength to stand up to double-teams, but will need to get stronger and play with more leverage to succeed at the next level. Controlled on the line too often by strong-handed blockers. Good strength for the pull-down tackle as the ball-carrier is rushing past him. Tackling: Good hustle and chase tackler. Goes down the line and gets back to help teammates wrap up ballcarriers downfield, though his limited speed means he can be left in the dust quickly. Long arms and good strength for the drag-down tackle from behind, though he will leave his feet and lunge, on occasion. Is not a quick-twitch athlete who can change directions in small spaces and thus, can be eluded. Relies on his long arms to catch the ball-carrier rather than the agility to corral them. Intangibles: Suffered a knee injury in the 2011 season opener against Wake Forest. The injury caused Jones to miss five games but was not publicly defined. Team doctors will certainly want to take a closer look at the Combine... Took on more of a leadership role in 2011, taking extra time to help coach up teammates from every defensive position on the team's scheme and expectations. Athletic bloodlines. Has two brothers -- Arthur, a former all-conference DT at Syracuse and currently with the Baltimore Ravens and Jon, who has been the UFC light-heavyweight champ

April 27, 2012  03:04 PM ET

Dont'a Hightower:Read & React: Productive, combines good instincts and fair reaction time for his size. Finds the ball in the trash inside, doesn't take false steps against play-action and gets into his drop quickly and naturally. Missing the quick-twitch acceleration, and thus reaction speed, to project as an All-Pro type. Run defense: Solid run-stuffer with good mobility. Stonewalls ballcarriers in the hole with the size and leverages one-on-one to churn legs and prevent forward push. Big-bodied with a defensive end's frame to drive linemen blocks inside with the thick arms to maintain distance and shed or scrape to the play. Flashes hustle to reach option toss outside even with delayed read. Aggressive defensive scheme gives him a lot of chances to make
plays on run blitzes. Lacks speed to beat the ball outside without taking the perfect angle. Pass defense: Top zone awareness kept him on the field in passing situations despite average speed. Drops to first-down marker quickly and watches for crossers in front of him. Very aware of RB routes with effort to attack throws to the sideline. Lacks speed and short-area quickness to handle NFL slot receivers and better tight ends in man coverage; can struggle to track and catch up with misdirection. Manhandles receivers at the line of scrimmage. Tackling: Strong head-on tackler. Gets low and wraps ballcarriers of any size. Reacts quickly enough to shed blocks or grab the legs of backs through a hole. Good chase and closing to the sideline. Leaves his feet to grab elusive ballcarriers in space using his size and strength. Occasionally whiffs, is inconsistent breaking down to attack open-field targets and misses chances when he doesn't bend and get low in tight quarters. Pass Rush/Blitz: Regular blitzer because of his size and strong hands. Does not have elite edge speed but started to beat tackles with quickness and violent hands consistently. Shows some situational DE potential. Strength to rock back tight ends and linemen with initial contact. Average changing direction but has the length and flexibility to bend around the tackle. Intangibles: Heady player, often directed traffic. Worked hard to rehab from serious knee injury in 2009. Took the leadership handoff from Rolando McClain as a redshirt sophomore. Spends a lot of time in the weight and film room.

All the wishing and hoping and praying we Pats fans did has finally paid off with two superb defensive additions.


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