With a great group of core players, and some cap room to take advantage of this spring, the future is very bright for New England. Even though they are the favorite, we have a whole offseason to take care of before we get down to placing NFL picks. However, if the Pats play out the draft and free agency right, we could be looking at 2007 all over again, but with a win in the big game.
Currently, the Pats have the 8th highest cap number heading into free agency next month. That means they have the more money to spend than 75% of the NFL, and they have some needs to fill. I’m assuming here that they don’t resign Wes Welker of course, which I will get into more in the next segment, but either way, the Pats will have around $20 million to work with this offseason.
Needs in the secondary are glaring, but they could use the draft to address those needs as well. A theme recently has been drafting corners and safeties high if they are talented enough, but the Pats don’t have a lot of picks this season.
Take a look at the 2013-14 Super Bowl Future Odds
The Pats will pick 29th in April’s draft, and right now, experts have them taking a player in the secondary with their first pick. The problem for the Pats this season will be the draft. They may have plenty of money to spend this offseason, but they will likely need all of it.
They gave up their 4th round pick in this year’s draft for Aqib Talib, a move that looks like it has paid off for the Pats. However, they will also be without a pick in the 5th and 6th rounds as well, and both of those trades were pretty awful for New England.
Their 5th round pick in the 2013 draft goes to the Redskins from the Albert “I’m to fat for my shirt” Haynesworth trade, and their 6th round pick goes to the Bengals from their deal getting Chad Ochocinco Johnson.
While they will still have their first three picks and their 7th round pick as well, it will be hard to supplement all their needs with just four picks. However, I think their combination of money is something that almost every GM would trade some picks for this season.
Possible free agents
The Pats will likely focus a majority of their money on the defensive side of the ball. After beefing up their secondary a bit and adding some depth up front, New England will likely go after some offensive line help and some playmaking help on offense.
I doubt Wes Welker stays unless the Pats franchise him, while Brandon Lloyd looks to be on his way out the door as well. The Pats would only take a $1 million cap hit if they cut Lloyd in June, which would free up some room to acquire a younger outside threat.
Some potential trade rumors have circled around Percy Harvin, the disgruntled 24 year-old specialty receiver for the Vikings. It looks like a forgone conclusion that Harvin will be traded before the draft, and the Pats look like the perfect fit. He would be Wes Welker 2.0 in the slot, and with some other guys around him, he could be a top 5 receiver in that offense.
With NFL odds of 6/1, you might not see the Patriots with this much value in the next 3-6 months. New England is set up nicely this offseason, and with the exception of another devastating injury to Tom Brady, the Pats are going nowhere but up in the future odds. If you like them, strike now.