It’s howling time again.
Time for segments of the region to scream into the wind about the Patriots and their reluctance to spend money in free agency.
Who, exactly, should they be spending on?
Never mind that. Just fire some money at a guy whose name that mob will recognize. A name that will leap off the tongue easily in seven months when someone wants to howl about the big free agent signing not being a playyyymayyyykuhhhh.
I’m going to make it easier for everyone. I’m going to fire off some names at positions of need (or want) that would make nice additions for the Patriots in 2014.
Before hitting on those guys, though, let’s roll it back to Howling Time 2013.
The unrestricted free agent wideouts at the top of the list were Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Brandon Lloyd, Brian Hartline and Titus Young.
The Patriots offered Welker. He declined. They signed Amendola. He was a C- relative to hopes. They re-signed Edelman. He was an A-plus.
Defensive end? Elvis Dumervil, Anthony Spencer, Michael Bennett, Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney and John Abraham.
They made a run at Abraham and opted to stay away. He had a nice season in Arizona. Michael Bennett won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks for low cost and just re-signed with them. I don’t know if any of them would have made massive alterations in the Patriots defense.
The corners on the market in 2013?
Sam Shields, Sean Smith, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DeAngelo Hall, Leodis McKelvin and Aqib Talib.
The Patriots re-signed the best corner of the group.
Safety? There was Dashon Goldson, Louis Delmas, Ed Reed and Laron Landry.
They should have gotten after Goldson. He went from the Niners to the Buccaneers and it was telling to me when the Patriots were preparing for the Bucs to hear Tom Brady gush about how much he loved Goldson.
So what do we have out there this year? What names should the howlers have ready when someone asks who they have in mind?
Donte Whitner, 49ers
A Pro Bowler each of the last two seasons, Whitner (5-10, 208) is a thumper and – at 28 – is in his prime. He’ll be a terrific complement to Devin McCourty. Sticky financial factor? With McCourty needing a new deal after this season, the Patriots will be measuring their steps with the contract they give to the guy next to him.
Antoine Bethea, Colts
Extremely steady and hardworking, the 5-11, 205-pound Bethea turns 30 in July. A pro and the backbone of the Colts secondary, he’s likely to re-sign there.
T.J. Ward, Browns
The recipient of Bill Belichick’s death stare when Ward blew out Rob Gronkowski’s knee, the Oregon product is highly sought.
Golden Tate, Seahawks
He’ll turn 26 in August, he’s solidly built at 5-10, 195, fights for the ball, blocks downfield, breaks tackles and is on the uptick. Also, durable.
Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
A changeup back, returner, slot receiver, McCluster is a gadget guy who would be a good player if (and only if) Julian Edelman goes elsewhere.
Arthur Jones, Ravens
The brother of Chandler Jones and one of the NFL’s rising defensive linemen, he’s got versatility and is an apparent upgrade to the interior depth the Pats were forced to use at the end of last season.
Jared Allen, Vikings
He’s moving on from Minny and is turning 32 in April but he is one of the league’s best pass rushers. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He hasn’t had a season with less than double-digit sacks since 2006. Pricey? Sure. But great hire for situational havoc wreaking.
Aqib Talib, Patriots
The feeling in Foxboro is that Talib wants to come back to the Patriots and will if the Patriots give him an offer that he feels is fair. Determining that will be a chore given Talib’s injuries, but the Patriots can’t come out of free agency getting worse in the secondary.