Curran: Breaking down Patriots comings, goings

Curran: Breaking down Patriots comings, goings
March 31, 2014, 12:30 pm
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On Tuesday, the 2014 free agent period turns three weeks old. Yay! Seems like three years. Here's where the Patriots stand in terms of additions, subtractions and retentions.
 
COMINGS
Darrelle Revis
Contract: 2 years, $32 million 
Comments: Revis is the best player in the league at one of the most important positions on the field. The Patriots have him for one season thanks to a nice confluence of need (created by Aqib Talib) and opportunity (Tampa wanting to rid itself of Revis’ contract). Can they turn it into a longer partnership? Expect a long feeling out process. But having just completed the book “Collision Low Crossers”, an inside story on the 2011 Jets, Revis is the defensive doppelganger of Tom Brady in terms of preparation and competitiveness.
 
Brandon Browner
Contract: 3 years, $16.8 million
Comments: Browner will start the season on suspension for substance policy violations in Seattle. At 6-foot-3, 220, he could use previous Pats corners like Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite as toothpicks. Whether Browner’s addition signals a philosophy change, though, remains to be seen. The size of the deal signals New England’s in it for the long haul. The financial trap doors the Patriots can use before each of the next two seasons ($2 million roster bonuses at the start of the league year) show the team wasn’t prepared to commit until they had signals Browner would be a fit. In essence, Browner -- like Revis -- is a one-year rental.
 
Brandon LaFell
Contract: 3 years, $9 million
Comments: This is a more concrete deal than Browner’s so it’s indicative the Patriots will be in it for the foreseeable future with LaFell. A bigger wideout with versatility inside and out, his former coach in Carolina Ron Rivera told me LaFell is a tremendous downfield blocker and tough kid who needs to work on focus drops.
 
GOINGS
Aqib Talib
Contract: 6 years, $57 million with Broncos
Comments: It’s kind of a tricky deal for Talib. The fact is this: he gets a $6M signing bonus and $4.5m in base salary this year. That’s solid for him. The $26M in guaranteed money that’s been reported doesn’t feel so guaranteed, though. That’s because $14M of that is salary that becomes guaranteed at the beginning of the next two league years ($5.5M and $8.5M). If the injury history Talib’s dealt with continues, by then it would have to be regarded as chronic and could make Denver hesitant to keep Talib. Still, he can play and is one of the best corners in the league when healthy.
 
LeGarrette Blount
Contract: 2 years, $3.85 million
Comments: He was such a nice complementary piece and he didn’t go to the Steelers for an outrageous amount of money. Would have been a nice safety net to have in case either or both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley opt to go elsewhere at the end of this season.
 
Dane Fletcher
Contract: 1 year, $1.2 million
Comments: A good special teams player and a decent coverage linebacker, it behooved Fletcher to get out and see a little more of the NFL since he’s been just a role player his whole time in New England. He’ll be missed but not lamented.
 
Brandon Spikes
Contract: 1 year, $3.25 million
Comments: Could work out great. Could be a bust. Either way it will be interesting. The running game thumper is convinced he was marginalized by the Patriots as just a run-stopper. They also stifled his world view. So now he goes to Buffalo with a score to settle and a chance to show that he was just misunderstood.
 
STAYINGS
Ryan Wendell
Contract: 2 years, $7.25 million
Comments: The Patriots needed to make sure they had a center for 2014 so, despite Wendell’s down season in 2013, they re-signed him. If Wendell plays well like he did in 2012, he gets paid well. If not, the Patriots can wriggle out. Expect the Patriots to draft a would-be replacement for Wendell so they can get a lower-cost guy to keep that spot solid.
 
Julian Edelman
Contract: 4 years, $19 million
Comments: Helps in so many ways. Special teams. Reliable outside route runner. Inside ability in slot. Toughness. Developing leadership in receiver room. Hope he can string together multiple seasons of good health. That’s the test.
 
Vince Wilfork
Contract: 3 years, $22.5 million (extension)
Comments: We’ll see how this goes. My expectation is that Wilfork will once again be a force defensively and make a major difference. But having so much of his money tied to playing time sets up an adversarial situation if the Patriots want to protect Wilfork by rotating him out or even sitting him down and Wilfork disagrees and thinks he’s getting screwed.