As we come closer and closer to the end of Day 5 of NFL Free Agency, it's becoming more and more likely that the Patriots are going to have to move on from star corner, Malcolm Butler. Butler, 27 in March, is scheduled to meet with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, and it's already been reported that the two sides are already in negotiations on a new deal for the RFA. Upon agreement on this new contract, the Saints will look to New England to complete the deal by agreeing on a possible trade.
But it's not time to panic if you're a Patriots fan. They already addressed the cornerback position when they signed ex-Bills Pro-Bowler, Stephon Gilmore, to a 4-year deal, worth $65 million. Gilmore brings more speed, as well as more height than Malcolm Butler, even if he statistically isn't as good as Butler. But on the bright side, they still have a number one corner. However, the depth behind Gilmore is rather thin. Guys like Eric Rowe and Cyrus Jones are currently labeled as CB2 and CB3. That could spell some trouble for the Patriots defense, who was ranked number one last year in opponent's PPG.
So what is left out there for the Patriots?
1. Darrelle Revis
The one-time Patriot did everything he was asked of in the 2014-15 season. He came here, wasn't a troublemaker, and was one of the league's best cornerbacks en route to New England's 4th Super Bowl title. However, in the following offseason, he left a sour taste in the mouths of Patriots fans when he signed back with the Jets on a 5-year deal, worth $70 million. That deal, of course, backfired. As in year two, Revis appeared to have lost a step, as well as a passion for the game he was among the most dominant in. This, plus legal trouble, led to the Jets releasing him. Even though Revis may not be as good as he once was, doesn't mean he can't play. And if he's willing to lose some weight and sign a relatively team-friendly contract, I have no problem with him covering the slot receivers and having Gilmore and Rowe on the outside.
2. Brandon Flowers
Flowers is coming off of a season in which he only played 6 games for the, now, Los Angeles Chargers. Flowers was limited due to a concussion, and that alone should be a red flag to Bill Belichick. But when he's out there, he's pretty solid. Once again, I see him being more of a slot corner for the Patriots, as I think Gilmore and Rowe can get the job done on the outside, handling the faster receivers in the league. Flowers is also a guy that hasn't really hasn't gained a lot of interest on the market, so he could come here for pennies on the dollar. Low risk with a potential high reward, and I think Bill Belichick could be enticed with that type of contract, especially if he has to get into a bidding war to retain Dont'a Hightower.
3. Cordrea Tankersley
There is obviously the possibility of New England looking to the draft, and if they wind up swinging a deal with the Saints for Malcolm Butler, they will most likely be getting the 32nd pick in the draft, as well as another pick in the middle rounds. With that they can wind up with Clemson senior corner, Cordrea Tankersley. The 23-year-old is coming off of a National Championship with Clemson last year, and experts are saying they like his build and his mentality. If you are willing to work hard, Belichick seems to keep his eyes open for you. He's projected to go late first - early second round, and is currently ranked 5th at his position in the class. The only knock on Tankersley is that he's "grabby," and may not get away with that at the NFL level. But he's a hard worker, and you can coach him up into a solid, disciplined corner.