The inconsistent, and at times dreadful, play of Steven Gregory and Pat Chung is what lead to most of the huge plays over the top. McCourty’s side of the defense was usually well covered, which meant the Patriots primary focus was to secure the other side. You can’t get much worse than Chung and Gregory, but that doesn’t mean you overreact and pay big money to get better on that side.
Adrian Wilson signed a 3-year, 5 million dollar deal that pays him just one million in 2013 and 1.5 the next two years; keep in mind he was an all-pro at one time. Recently, Reed just signed a 3-year deal worth 15 million in which he’ll be making 6 million the first year. Realizing that there is a significant gap in talent, that is a huge gap in price. The Patriots had more than just a need at safety so taking someone significantly better over what we had, but not the best in the league, just might have been the right approach.
The Patriots were just in the AFC championship game last season, so going out and throwing huge money at one position when you only need to improve slightly is not sound business. Ed Reed’s 61 interceptions leads all active players in the NFL and don’t get me wrong, I wanted him. I’ve been on the record wanting him. I just think that the Patriots cheap ways may have saved them this time.
At the very beginning of free agency, myself and many other Patriot writers were calling for Reed to come “save our defense”. However, as it turned out, we had more needs than we all anticipated when Welker decided to take his talents to Denver. At this point I changed my tune and was happier than a hobo on a ham sandwich that they got an experienced, all-pro safety to bring stability at just one million dollars.
Ed Reed is a great player, he’s a hall-of-famer, but his 6 million would have accounted for about 1/5 of the Patriots spending money and it turns out they needed that money to sign an entirely new cast of receivers. Kyle Arrington, McCourty, Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and Adrian Wilson together sound like a pretty solid group. We re-signed the guys that almost got us there, and signed a guy that will, hopefully, get us over the hump.
Finally, how does this affect the AFC?
I think it brings Houston to the top as our biggest competition. Sure, we smoked them last season two times, but that’s because they couldn’t stop Tom Brady and our offense. With Reed setting the defense, they are sure to slow Brady and the offense down, just on that fact that they have more talent with Reed. Reed comes from Baltimore; say what you will, but Baltimore’s defense has always had Brady’s number. Reed is capable of bringing that knowledge of what works against Brady to Houston and significantly impact the landscape of the AFC.