Through 3 games this season, the Patriots have dominated the competition. Pittsburgh, who were without Martavias Bryant and Le'Veon Bell, were left helpless at the sight of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Similarly, the Patriots offense overpowered the Buffalo Bills, who geeked themselves up and came unprepared to face one of the elite teams in the NFL. And Jacksonville is, well, Jacksonville.
While the Patriots offense has been rolling, there are some concerns within the secondary on the other side of the football. The Patriots Front 7, lead by rookie Malcom Brown, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, have been getting to the quarterback, but what will happen against a great offensive line? Will the Patriots be able to cover top receivers in the playoffs?
In short, I don't think so. This defense is good enough to get them into the playoffs with ease, but, once in the playoffs, they won't be able to beat a team 51-17. They may be able to win the Super Bowl in spite of the secondary, but it will not be as easy as everyone thinks. Here are some ideas of defensive backs that the Patriots may be interested in to compliment Malcolm Butler and company.
Tampa Bay CB Alterraun Verner
Alterraun Verner has received a bad rap since signing his four year, $25.8 million contract with $14 million guaranteed. Many thought that the UCLA alum would blossom into a solid #1 cornerback for the Tampa Bay Bucs. Unfortunately, Verner had a terrible first half to last season and could not make up for it in the final 8 games of the season. In fact, Football Outsiders ranked him as the worst corner in the NFL, based on success rate (Whatever the hell that is).The 5-foot-10, 187 pound defensive back could be picked up at a bargain, as he has never really meshed with Lovie Smith's defensive scheme. If the Bucs ate some of his contract, the Patriots could be interested in revitalizing the 26-year-old's career.
Detroit CB Rashean Mathis
Admittedly, I have to preface this by saying Mathis was not on my radar until mentioned to me by one of my loyal Twitter followers. However, he is exactly what the Patriots are looking for this season. At 35-years-old, many would think that the former Bethune-Cookman Wildcat doesn't have what it takes to run around with 23-year-olds anymore. However, the 6-foot-1, 195 pound corner looks to still be a legitimate threat in the defensive secondary. At only $1.75 million a year, the Patriots should be all over this guy.
Browns CB Joe Haden
I have to admit, this is a pipe dream. Everyone knows the Top 5 (maybe even better?) corner in the National Football League. The 5-foot-11, 195 pound former Florida Gator was the 7th overall pick in the 2010 draft and has certainly lived up to the hype. In May of 2014, Haden signed a 5-year, $67.5 million contract extension, which will keep him with the team until 2019. But how much longer will he want to play for the lowly Browns? Will he ever want to win a Super Bowl?
The Patriots most likely have a less than zero percent chance of signing the all-world corner, but a guy can dream, right? He would look very nice opposite of Malcolm Butler and effectively assume the position that Revis left when he signed with the hated New York Jets. There is a lot of guaranteed money ($23 million fully guaranteed, close to $45 million in Total Guaranteed), but the Patriots could have a top corner for the foreseeable future and be the clear favorites to win Super Bowl 50.
Let me conclude this by saying that there is almost a 0% chance that the Patriots end up getting any of these guys. There is some no name player out there that Belichik is drooling over and will snag at the deadline for a fraction of the price. However, aside from Haden, these are the types of guys that the Patriots should be looking at. Low risk, low money, high reward guys.
I mean, anyone is better than Bradley Fletcher right now, right?
By Pete Packowski @Pete_BBS