The NFL has become a passing league, which is why this week’s mailbag focuses on receivers and defensive backs. The Patriots’ defensive backfield has been shaken up in the last couple weeks and they are making a case as the best in the NFL. Have they signed their way into the top spot? What are they even going to look like come the start of the season?
Subtract Aqib Talib, add Darrelle Revis, add Brandon Browner. Do the Pats have the best defensive backfield in the NFL? –Kenny from Cambridge, MA
With the free agent signings of Revis and Browner, the Patriots are certainly making a case for the best defensive backfield in the NFL. On paper. Of course we won’t know for sure until the 2014 season gets underway, but their ceiling is extremely high.
As of now we are probably looking at Revis (arguably the top corner in today’s game) and Browner as the starting cornerbacks with Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty starting at safety. They also boast tremendous depth at corner with Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, and Logan Ryan all on the roster.
They still have to mesh well and actually start shutting down opposing passing attacks on the gridiron. Until then, the top spot still belongs to the Legion of Boom in Seattle. Maybe it’s because they just won the Super Bowl; maybe it’s the elite combination of Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas; maybe it’s just the nickname. Regardless, they’re still #1.
How is the Browner signing going to shake up the defensive backfield? Any chance we try and trade Dennard or Ryan now with all these CBs? –Bob from Lowell, MA
You have to assume Revis will be one of the starting cornerbacks and that Arrington will be the top slot corner. As I mentioned above, I think Browner is the favorite to start across from Revis as of now. That being said, he is by no means a lock to make the 53-man roster. Dennard or Ryan could easily replace him with a solid camp. The competition is going to be wide open for that spot.
Even if Browner ends up starting, it’s unlikely that the Pats will try to trade Ryan or Dennard. Both are valuable young prospects and can provide depth in sub packages. The makeup of the defensive backfield will really get interesting if Dennard or Ryan beats out Browner as the second corner. With Browner’s size and athleticism, he has the tools (at least at a glance) to play safety. Don’t be surprised if Belichick pairs him with fellow cornerback-turned-safety Devin McCourty in practice sessions.
Can you see Kenny Britt fitting into the Pats’ offense? –John from Denver
Yes. The Patriots are legitimately interested in Kenny Britt, as they had him in for a visit on Monday. While he left without a contract, don’t rule the Pats out just yet. They could still use a big, fast wideout to take the top off the defense a la Randy Moss. Aaron Dobson and now Brandon LaFell are big and fast, but neither has proven that they can be the #1 option in the Patriots’ passing attack.
Britt has also visited St. Louis and Washington. The Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks have also been identified as potential landing spots.