No matter how talented you are and no matter how successful you were a year ago, each and every team in the National Football League always has room to improve. Even if you’re the Seattle Seahawks, a team coming off of one of the most lopsided Super Bowl victories in NFL history, you still have room to improve.
The New England Patriots, who made it to their third straight AFC Championship, have plenty of needs on both sides of the ball.
Being just a little over a week removed from Super Bowl XLVIII, let’s take some time to analyze one of New England’s most glaring needs: wide receiver.
Tom Brady played all of 2013 without four of his top five wide receivers from a year prior and the majority of the season missing all of those five receivers. Granted, Julian Edelman stepped in and did a phenomenal job as he finished with a career year recording 105 reception for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns, but he was simply the only consistent receiver that Brady had all year long. On top of that, Edelman is scheduled to hit the free agent market on March 11, and there’s no telling whether or not the 27-year-old will remain a Patriot heading into 2014.
If I’m Bill Belichick, I re-sign Edelman. I’d offer out a three-to-five year deal worth roughly $4 million per-year. Will that be enough to re-sign him? Who knows; we’re simply too early in the offseason to start accurately speculating potential free agent contracts.
However, even if the Patriots do bring back Edelman, they still need to bolster their wide receiver corps, and one free agent that comes to mind is Hakeem Nicks.
The common consensus is that Nicks will not be back with the New York Giants for 2014 and that he’ll test the open waters after a rather embarrassing 2013 campaign with New York.
Nicks, who stands in at 6’1” and is only 26 years old, is exactly what Brady and New England’s passing attack need. He’ll bring physicality, something that the Patriots haven’t had at wide receiver in recent memory, and he’ll bring top-end talent for Brady to work with as he enters the twilight of his career.
As indicated earlier, Nicks had an off-year with New York—and granted, the entire Giants team had a pretty pathetic showing in 2013. Nicks missed just one game while reeling in 56 receptions on 101 targets for 896 yards but failed to score a single touchdown; shocking, I know.
Most Patriots fans are well aware of Nicks’ talents, despite his lackluster season. In New England’s Super Bowl XLVI loss against the New York Giants, Nicks had a field day as he completely shredded New England’s secondary—it’s almost like no one was covering him. Nicks finished with 10 receptions for 109 yards—you couldn’t ask for much more on the league’s biggest stage.
Granted, it will take a nice chunk of change to reel in Nicks—but if you want to win the NFL nowadays, you need to take some shots in free agency; just ask Seahawks general manager John Schneider.
With the league year set to start on March 11, perhaps the Patriots can shock us all and make a free agent splash by signing a big-name wide receiver—I mean, I can dream, right?
Like this story? Read about the top 5 Patriots games to re-watch from 2013.