There are two different kinds of consumers.
Those who’ll head down to Best Buy or Wal-Mart at around 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to get in line for Black Friday shopping.
And those who’ll enjoy their turkey, get a good night’s sleep and still get what they need for a very Merry Christmas.
When NFL free agency begins, you can tell which people fall in the first group. They are the ones that flip out when the Patriots do their annual, “No thanks, just looking…” routine.
Free agency officially opens next Thursday at 4 p.m. The Patriots – even with $60M to burn this offseason – will most likely dawdle and browse while the private jets of other owners scoop up fat dudes and whisk them to headquarters where they’ll be sequestered in a room and offered $80M if they sign today.
Some GM may even slide across a picture of his adorable kids. Kids who are depending on Dad to get things on track … so they don’t have to look for a new school. Again.
No hard sell in New England. Lots of tire-kicking. Which means lots of rock-kicking in our region. A sampling from early March, 2016 when guys like Janoris Jenkins, Kelechi Osemele, Alex Mack, Rishard Matthews, Marvin Jones, Olivier Vernon and Mohamed Sanu all signed in the first couple days.
@tomecurran how many years are the pats going to just sit on their high horse and watch every team just load up before it finally gets them?— bulldogdaddy (@ambulldog710) March 9, 2016
@tomecurran tommy, please settle my agida on why the Pats made no splash in FA. Toms got 2 solid years left & nothing. My faith is waivering— ChipChipperChip (@Chipchipperchip) March 11, 2016
Meanwhile, the Patriots signed the estimable Ramon Humber on the first day of free agency.
And then after a week of idling, the Patriots signed Chris Hogan as an RFA, traded Chandler Jones, traded for Martellus Bennett then signed Chris Long, Shea McClellin, Donald Brown, Nate Washington, Terrance Knighton and Clay Harbor.
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In 2015, it was all about Darrelle Revis drama. The Patriots took a pass. The Jets rue the day they didn’t. New England also signed Jabaal Sheard, Jonathan Freeny, Scott Chandler and Travaris Cadet and re-signed Devin McCourty.
In 2014, Aqib Talib signed with Denver. Torches were lit and pitchforks raised. The Patriots then acquired Revis.
Wes Welker was the cause celebre in 2013. The Patriots opted for Danny Amendola when Welker decided he wanted to test the market. When Welker tried to see if he could fit back with the Patriots, he found his spot was filled.
Which brings us to this year’s drama. And there will be plenty of it. Befitting a team that’s won two Super Bowls in three years, the Patriots have a fleet of soon-to-be free agents that other teams can envision making a difference for them. The list is headed by Dont’a Hightower, but Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Jabaal Sheard, Alan Branch, LeGarrette Blount and Martellus Bennett are all going to be courted and – as some of them inevitably sign elsewhere – the “WHAT ARE THEY DOING DOWN THERE?!?!?!?” panic will rise.
Toss in Jimmy Garoppolo conversation which is already at full boil and the fact the Patriots have an absurd amount of money free under the 2017 salary cap, the Patriots and their plans are going to be a focal point.
What you may want to remind yourself this week – and definitely when free agency opens – is that unrestricted free agency is just one of a few player-acquisition faucets the Patriots will put their roster bucket under.
Dion Lewis signed with the Patriots in February of 2015. Malcolm Butler came aboard after going through a tryout during rookie minicamp in 2014.
There are plenty of names out there already you can envision being Patriots targets. Jared Odrick, for one. And then there are “names” like Calais Campbell, Dontari Poe, DeSean Jackson and Brandon Marshall.
Last year, I had a hankering for Mohamed Sanu or Matt Forte. Neither came. It still worked itself out.
Certainly, the fate of Hightower will have far-reaching impact on the Patriots defense given his importance in virtually every facet of what they do. The fact he will hit the market, get offers then – presumably – circle up with the Patriots before making a decision is going to make for some drama. And if Bennett goes – which he assuredly will – the Patriots will be verrrrry shallow at tight end.
The same March angst we see every season is going to be in play this year. It’s a rite of pre-Spring like getting crosseyed on St. Patrick’s Day or seeing that stupid equipment truck on Yawkey Way.
By the end of the week, chances are hysteria will rule. And reminding people that, “They’ll figure it out. They always do…” doesn’t fill the TV, radio and digital void.
So put your mouthguard in and get ready for a week of doom, gloom and second-guessing.