Count the days down, guys: It's a week to go until the 2013 NFL season kicks off. Sort of. Free agency begins on the 12th of March, and the rumor mill is running near to capacity. The latest involving the New England Patriots involves the possible addition on Houston Texans Outside Linebacker Connor Barwin, who has come out with some interesting quotes on SiriusXM Radio.
If he doesn't return to Houston, Barwin made it clear he'd like to play for a winning team with an established quarterback. He said he's willing to take less money to play for a competitor. When asked specifically about joining the New England Patriots, Barwin replied, "That would be nice." Source
Well, if you're looking for a winning team with an established Quarterback, look no further than the Patriots (as the Texans found out last season... Twice). And he's willing to take less money to make it happen, which is great. He's really advertising himself well, as he has to after a down year. He shined in 2011, but only recorded 3 sacks in 2012, which isn't so impressive for a pass rushing outside linebacker. And with Whitney Mercilus ready to take his place, it's no surprise the Texans are ready to let Barwin go.
And if he came to New England, I'd be pretty pleased. It would certainly be a statement move, with Barwin being a big part of Houston's recent play-offs run on defense. Having players like him in the team would certainly make blitzing from the second level less of a risk as he's a guy who can generate a lot of constant pressure when blitzing, though this might just be Wade Phillip's defensive scheme at work, with the help of guys like J.J. Watt and Brooks Reid.
But if I was New England, I wouldn't actively pursue Barwin. Firstly, Houston play in a 3-4 scheme. They establish pressure up the middle using J.J. Watt et al, and then bring their OLBs to generate outside rush. The Patriots run a 4-3 scheme, which uses Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich to get outside pressure, then uses the DT's and then LB's to get an inside rush. This would be a completely new system for Barwin, and one which might not suit him, and he coudl be a big money guy who's a bust in a 4-3, unless the Pats could convert him to a Defensive End.
Secondly, we've already got a pretty solid linebacker group. It's got the potential to be one of the best in the league. It's young, has great chemistry, and if they can keep progressing, it can really dominate in the NFL. So, why would you bring in another guy, who's a big name and who'll want to start every game, to disrupt the good thing we've got at this moment. Surely it would be better to use the cap space on different positions we need to improve on immediately, like Safety, Cornerback and Wide Receiver.
So, Barwin would be a nice addition, but not a necessary one. One of the last places the Patriots need upgrading is Linebacker, so why use what little cap space we have on a 3-4 guy?
Agree/Disagree? Comment below or tell me on Twitter @BrendanAnnely