Early run on safeties leaves Pats shut out

Early run on safeties leaves Pats shut out
March 11, 2014, 8:00 pm

The first few hours of 2014 free agency featured a run on safeties.
 
Antoine Bethea went from the Colts to the Niners, Donte Whitner went from the Niners to the Browns, T.J. Ward went from the Browns to the Broncos, Mike Mitchell went from Carolina to Pittsburgh and Malcolm Jenkins has gone from the Saints to the Eagles.
 
Jairus Byrd, the ex-Bill, is going to visit the Saints.
 
Jenkins got three years, $16M with $8.5M guaranteed; Whitner is making about $7M on his four-year deal; Bethea is going to make close to $6M with the Niners.
 
At this position of need, the Patriots sat out the early action.
 
Unless they add someone from the picked-over remains, the position next to Devin McCourty will be filled by Duron Harmon, the Wilsons (Adrian and Tavon) and whoever the team adds through the draft.
 
McCourty needs a player next to him that’s more capable than Steve Gregory at being a presence in the passing game and in run support. Scheme-wise they can tweak it to turn a linebacker into that kind of player (Wesley Woodyard?) and complement him with Harmon.
 
But the team needs to improve in that area and didn’t do that in the first hours of free agency.
 
Perhaps the fact McCourty is going to be up after 2014 caused the team to hesitate when it came to spending at the $5M-plus rate. Understandable. But the back end of the defense needed help entering free agency and the guys most likely to provide it are already gone.