I was processing the Patriots’ season after their disappointing home playoff loss to the New York Jets, Bart Scott’s interview with ESPN stuck in my head. He told him that the Patriots’ defense “can’t cover a nosebleed.” It turns out he was right. In that game, the Patriots had a good cornerback in Devin McCourty, but who did New York keep exploiting? They exploited the weaker cornerbacks in Kyle Arrington and Darius Butler. It begs the Patriot fan to wonder, do we have enough elite cornerbacks to get back to the Super Bowl without a legitimate pass rush?
Now, you can make up for the pass rush if you have top cornerbacks. Look at those same New York Jets. With Darrelle Revis and now Antonio Cromartie, New York was able to drop their guys into coverage and not allow any room for receivers to get open. This limited guys like Branch, Welker, and Gronkowski to get yards after the catch.
On a lot of mock drafts, New England’s picks are projected most likely in the first round to come from the defensive end or the running back positions. If that is the case, I would want New England to go after cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders. Asomugha’s contract was voided after the 2010 season because he did not make certain incentives on his deal.
Yes, New England does get Leigh Bodden back after an ACL tear last summer. But, how will Bodden’s health be coming off a surgery that basically needs two years to heal up to full strength? It is a huge gamble to put him at that number two cornerback slot. Asomugha is a playmaker who can develop his own island in Foxboro and be a part of a championship team in his prime. Asomugha and McCourty could equal Revis and Cromartie in terms of production and definitely improve a very bad pass defense.
New England made a play at Julius Peppers last offseason and now they need to make the right move in March regardless of the CBA situation and get themselves a bonafide star. Plus, it would allow them to have a veteran leader on the defensive side of the ball to compete with the Jets come 2011.
Even off the torn rotator cuff, its tough to ask Bodden to repeat 2009. They will get Wihite and Brandon McGowan back as well, but the point is veteran presence and a SUPERSTAR on defense. Great correction Jason
I totally forgot that Bodden's injury was actually a torn rotator cuff, not an ACL. Your original post made me mis-remember. LOL
With that in mind, I actually think Asomugha or Bailey would be a tremendous waste of resources. Unless McCourty hits a serious sophomore slump, he and Bodden should make up one of the better CB tandems in the league next year (and Arrington and Butler would have a chance to battle for playing time in the nickel, which would be a good fit for them). I really can't see the team paying Bodden $5 million a year to play in sub packages if he's healthy. Signing Asomugha pretty much guarantees that we lose Mankins this offseason and Welker next year when you consider the size of Brady' contract and the money Asomugha would require. And with a franchise QB coming off of another surgery, losing our top offensive linemen and most reliable receiver doesn't sound like an appealing proposition. I think the smarter move is to take care of our own instead of making a big splash at a spot where we already have a lot of talent and money tied up.
I'm not sure Ingram will fall to 17, but I wouldn't argue with the pick there if he falls. BJGE is a restricted free agent, so they could slap a second-round tender on him and pay him less than $2 million next year. He'd be an easy trade chip during or after the draft if they pick a RB early.
Jason, I disagree with you on Bailey. It takes two years to recover from ACL surgery so I expect Bodden to be back, but not at the 2009 level he played at. Bailey I am afraid will play at a Shawn Springs level. Something tells me they might not re-sign BGE and go for a Mark Ingram earlier in the draft to get the power running back, but we have 4 months to figure that out. Bailey is good, but he has lost a step. If Mankins does not re-sign, which would not surprise me if he didn't, you need to make a splash.
Luke, remember this, people said NYJ didn't have a pass rush coming into the playoffs. But, they dropped cornerbacks in coverage. Put Asomugha and McCourty in coverage and its tough to throw on even without a pass rush which did improve from 2009
Honestly, if the Pats are going to make a big splash in free agency to upgrade the secondary, I'd rather see them overpay for a year or two for an aging Champ Bailey rather than four years of Asomugha. By the time Bailey regresses due to age, Bodden should be back to full strength from his ACL injury.
In a capless world, I'd love to see Asomugha in New England. But he's also going to want $10 million a year and probably won't take a contract of less than 4 years unless he becomes the highest-paid CB in the game ($13+ million). Assuming the new CBA includes a salary cap, signing Asomugha would mean we'd be saying goodbye to Matt Light, Logan Mankins, BJGE and most other free agents (our own and from other teams) through 2014. Don't get me wrong, he would be a tremendous upgrade in the secondary and improve the defense a great deal next year, but I'm not sure he'd be worth the ultimate cost of the quality players the Pats would lose out on over the next 3-4 years because they couldn't afford to pay anybody. I say let somebody else have an elite CB in the waning years of his career for $12 million a year.
I agree with you that Asomugha would be a great addition to the secondary. His price tag may be too high for the Patriots taste, as he is one of the top 3 or 4 CB's in the league. I think that the Patriots woes stem from a lack of pass rush. They were able to cover up for it most of the season, but the playoffs are where your weakness become huge glaring faults.