Free Agent Primer: Defensive line


Free Agent Primer: Defensive line

By Tom E. Curran

This is the fifth in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Defensive line.

Who's here?
Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Marcus Stroud, Mike Wright, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Landon Cohen, Kade Weston, Darryl Richard, Marlon Favorite.
Who's out there?
Cullen Jenkins (Packers), Stephen Bowen (Cowboys), Shaun Smith (Chiefs), Justin Bannan (Broncos), Kenyon Coleman (Browns), Jacques Cesaire (Chargers), Gerard Warren (Patriots), Shaun Ellis (Jets). What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it a5. The Patriots have an abundance of heft along their defensive line with Brace (330 pounds) Wilfork (350-plus), Cohen (305), Deaderick (300), Favorite (317), Pryor (310), Richard (295), Stroud (310), Weston (316), Wright (295)and Ty Warren (305). The rotation is deep and young. There are veterans and young guys. There are guys who generate pressure (Wright had 5.5 sacks, Pryor has a knack as well, it seems). Overall, it's a pretty solid group. I think Gerard Warren was really outstanding for them last year, but his contract expired and Marcus Stroud was brought aboard. I thought that was a dubious acquisition but was redirected by opposing GMs who assured me that Stroud can still play and is very professional. A good pickup. So what I'm getting at is, unless they unearth the new Seymour - a 6-6,, 310-pound chiseled guy who can anchor with ease, command double-teams and chase all over the field - the Patriots will only be duplicating what they have on their roster with most of the guys on the market.Who do they chase?
Gerard Warren will still be out there when free agency opens. He'd be a good get. Other than that, the 3-4, 5-technique ends would be the places the Patriots would seek. Coleman. Bannan, released by Denver as the Broncos switch to a 4-3. That ilk makes sense. Who do we look at next?
Outside linebackers.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl


Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?