PHILIP TOR | SLUMP SPORTS BLOGGAH
Going into the 2016 offseason as a Patriots fan, I was not worried at all. The pats were returning pretty much all the leaders, and knowing Bill Belichick, he would improve the line and add role players in the linebacking corps and secondary. The only big concern was the offensive line, and maybe the running back troubles. Now almost two months removed from the AFC Championship loss to the Broncos, Bill has made a lot of moves to help the Pats fix their issues.
Like I said earlier, the Patriots lost next to no one in free agency. Akeem Hicks was a big loss as he filled the role that Vince Wilfork had occupied for a long time. Other than Hicks, the list of free agents was mostly role players and special teamers. Former first round pick Jerod Mayo retired after a short career filled with various injuries. Dont’a Hightower has taken over most of his responsibilities over his first few years, and has proved himself as a leader on the defense, so the Mayo retirement is not that big of a deal.
Bill started with getting rid of the garbage that stunk up the field in 2015. He cut TE Scott Chandler, who could not help re-establish the dual-TE offense that stifled defense in 2011 with the murderer and Gronk. He also dropped WR Brandon LaFell… FINALLY. Although he did help them win a super bowl, it was as if he lost his hands in 2015. It seemed like every other pass was dropped and could not make the big catches a deep threat should be able too. We all knew Bill was freeing up cap room to hopefully make some big moves in the free agent market, but we instead got a couple of huge surprises by way of the trade.
BACKGROUND:The Patriots have a ton of young defensive talent, and that is a problem because when those players’ rookie contracts expire, not all of them can get paid. Chandler Jones was due to be a free agent after the 2016 season, and with the contracts of Malcolm Butler, Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins expiring soon it made sense to trade Jones at a high value now after he recorded yet another great year in 2015.
CHANDLER JONES TO THE CARDINALS FOR JONATHAN COOPER:
Bill sent Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for OL Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick (61st overall). I personally hated the move at first because of the production and mostly the leadership of Chandler Jones. The guy was an animal off the edge, running down quarterbacks and making huge tackles in the backfield. Jones also served as a defensive captain for two years. My vision was also clouded because he was one of my favorite players to watch, and him and Gronk were hilarious together.
The more I thought about it though, the more it made sense. Jones would have eaten up a lot of cap room and the Pats, and we desperately needed offensive lineman on the interior. Cooper has been a little shaky since being drafted in 2013, but with help from reinstated O-Line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Cooper could be the fix for the issue that cost the Pats a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015. We all know Bill loves his draft picks, and after the Patriots were stripped of their first and fourth rounders because of deflategate (Still complete crap, Damn Goodell) I kind of assumed Coach would make a move to acquire a high pick.
Chandler Jones will be missed, best of luck in Arizona , “Black Gronk”
Trade Rating: 8/10
4TH ROUNDER TO BEARS FOR MARTELLUS BENNETT AND 6TH ROUNDER
WOOOHOOOOOO!!! LET’S GO BOYS, SUPER BOWL HERE WE COME!!! Lightning acquisition by the genius. The Patriots are known for the creative ways in which they use their TE’s in formations, and now your giving Bill two of the top 5 TE’s in the game? Bennett is a versatile TE who can make big catches over the middle and extend plays with his legs. Now with Brady throwing to him, he could be even more dangerous. Everyone better be ready to get burned this year, cause this offense is going to be booming!
Trade Rating: 2945/10
PATRIOTS SIGN WR CHRIS HOGAN
Another small white guy? I guess I’ll take it, but I would have rather had a deep threat to compliment a corps of short receivers. Edelman, Amendola, Hogan, Martin, and Dobson can’t necesarily stretch the field. Let’s see what McDaniels can do with this short, yet electric cast of weapons.
Contract: 3 years $12 Million
Signing Rating: 6/10
PATRIOTS SIGN DE CHRIS LONG AND LB SHEA MCCLELLIN
When the Chandler Jones trade was announced, Long had already had a visit with the Patriots and was expected to sign. Long will help fill Jones’ role in the pass rush opposite Rob Ninkovich and McClellin will help with depth at the LB position perhaps taking over the snaps that Jerod Mayo saw in 2015. These guys help add depth and experience to a defense that already has youth and talent.
Long’s Contract: 1 year $2 Million
McClellin’s Contract: 3 years $12 Million
Super Bowl 51 is in the Patriots sights, and with Belichick and Brady ready to lead another push with these new players, the sky is the limit for the 2016 New England Patriots.