Day Two of free agency in the books and the Patriots hosted some free agents, but remained quiet. What does it mean? CSNNE's Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry explain . . .
TOM E. CURRAN
It’s been a while since it’s been this quiet at the start of free agency.
Last year, the drama surrounding Darrelle Revis’ escape to New York dominated the first days of free agency with the release of Brandon Browner close behind. Shane Vereen went to the Giants, Vince Wilfork to the Texans, Akeem Ayers to the Rams. There was anxiety around Devin McCourty’s dalliance with the Giants and Eagles before he returned. And the team grabbed Jabaal Sheard, Travaris Cadet, Brandon Gibson and Scott Chandler in the first few days.
In 2014, it was chaos. Aqib Talib lit out for Denver causing a major local crisis for 24 hours. Then the Patriots struck back by signing Revis. They also grabbed Browner, who would be on a four-game suspension to start the season and signed Brandon LaFell. They re-signed Julian Edelman but lost – in addition to Talib – LeGarrette Blount (he would be back) and Brandon Spikes.
In 2013? Even more chaos. Wes Welker turned his nose up to the Patriots offers and hit free agency, the Patriots agreed to a deal with Danny Amendola that Welker wasn’t wise to, Welker visited the Broncos then made an emotional call to Foxboro to see if he could come back and the Patriots said, “Sorry, that spot’s taken.” Emotions were raw for months about that deal. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead left for San Diego, Patrick Chung went to the Eagles and the team lopped off Brandon Lloyd. They also brought in receivers Michael Jenkins, Lavelle Hawkins and Donald Jones. None of them rung the bell. Neither did Leon Washington or Adrian Wilson.
In 2012, the marquee signing was Brandon Lloyd. The big name loss was BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Patriots franchised Welker, which pissed him off and paved the way for his departure in 2013. But that was the last year it was this quiet.
This virtually silent free agent period shouldn’t be a surprise. The Patriots didn’t have any marquee guys hitting the market. And when I tried last week to look at high-profile names at New England’s positions of need, I was almost completely strapped to come up with any reasonable names.
It is what it is. And the way it’s shaping up with the number of big-time players who’ll be up after this season, this isn’t what it’s going to be in 2017.
Two days into the new league year, two days into free agency, and the Patriots are still shopping.
That they haven't jumped at the chance to spend wads of cash on a receiver, running back or tight end -- three of their biggest needs -- shouldn't come as a surprise. The roster was relatively well-set before Wednesday and still is. And while they have vacancies on their roster to be filled, none of them are incredibly pressing.
They need a No. 3 receiver, someone who might end up as the fourth or fifth option in their offense in 2016. They need a backup tight end. They need a running back to help share the workload with Dion Lewis, James White and Brandon Bolden.
Not exactly break-the-bank pieces.
If the opening of the free-agency period is Black Friday, Bill Belichick and his cohorts in the Patriots front office are the ones calmly strolling through the aisles and asking about warranties while others climb over each other to get to the nearest big-screen TV.
You want Mohamed Sanu for five years and $32.5 million, Atlanta? Go for it, the Patriots seemed to say on Day 2. Nice player. But the role he'd play in New England, and the price to acquire him -- even considering the spike in the salary cap this year -- didn't seem to square.
That approach led the Patriots to where they were on Thursday, with a revolving door of offensive skill players coming through the facilities at Gillette Stadium, their names familiar only to the most obsessive fantasy football owners: receivers Chris Hogan and Rod Streater, running backs Benny Cunningham and James Starks, tight end Clay Harbor.
They may not have track records that will satiate the masses looking to stock Tom Brady's weapon cabinet, but they're viable pieces whose price tags are more likely to match up with what the Patriots will be asking of them next season and beyond.
Day 3 could be the day when deals start to be handed out, but it's clear the Patriots are in no real rush. And why should they be? Given their needs at the moment, they can afford to be patient.