A look at the Patriots’ secondary, noting the key additions and departures from the unit this offseason:
The Patriots made a big free agent splash by signing Revis to a one-year, $12 million contract, just hours after the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback was released by theTampa Bay Buccaneers. The deal also includes a team option for the 2015 season (this option year will almost certainly not be picked up), consisting of a $7.5 million base salary with a $12 million roster bonus and $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses.
The Patriots acted quickly upon the release of Revis from the Buccaneers, who were unable to complete a trade with either the Cleveland Browns or the Oakland Raiders, the two interested parties in acquiring Revis. Once the “Revis Island Sweepstakes” switched from a trade bargaining operation to a free agent bidding war, the Patriots became the “logical” choice for Revis.
"It's basically about just winning," Revis said after joining the Patriots, via ESPN.com. "I weighed my options and I just wanted to win. I felt like this is the right place. What better organization than the New England Patriots to be a part of?"
Revis will be utilized as the lockdown press defender against the opposing team’s top receiver. The eight-year veteran earned three first-team All Pro honors (2009, 2010 and 2011) and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after finishing the year with 72 total tackles and six interceptions, then as a member of the New York Jets.
While not posting a stellar season statistically, Revis still was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013, despite playing in an unfamiliar zone defense as he recovered from his ACL surgery from a year prior.
The Patriots were not finished bolstering their secondary after inking Revis to a contract. Complementing Revis in a potentially ferocious secondary, will be Brandon Browner.
The former member of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Browner is known for his raw, imposing physicality that is unmatched by any cornerback in the NFL. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Browner is a superb tackler against the run and in the open field.
There is some major baggage that comes with Browner, however. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December for multiple violations of the NFL’s policies on performance-enhancing substances, denying him a chance to play during the Seahawks’ title run. Browner will complete the suspension by sitting out the first four games of the 2014 season.
Diminishing speed is a major concern as well for the former Canadian Football League player. He will likely lose any foot race to wide receivers with above-average speed. It should also be noted that Browner was supplanted by Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell in the Seahawks’ secondary last season.
One thing to watch for is whether Browner will be switched out of his usual spot as the right cornerback and moved into strong safety, a position that is currently of weakness for the Patriots.
Talib defected to the rival Denver Broncos at the start of free agency. While terms of the deal were initially said to be a six-year, $57 million contract, Talib joined the Broncos on what is essentially a three-year, $27 million agreement. Mike Klis ofThe Denver Post highlighted the details of Talib’s contract:
“That last three years were what the industry often refers to as phony money because rarely do players collect the back-end of such contracts. This is really a three-year, $27 million contract. Still, $9 million a year isn’t bad.”
Gregory was a cap casualty at the start of the offseason. The strong safety was scheduled to earn $2.25 million in base salary in 2014 and in total the Patriots will save $2.85 million on their cap by releasing him.
Gregory’s release hinges Duron Harmon as the next-man-up on the depth chart at safety. Harmon, drafted in the third round in 2013 by New England, started three games as a rookie while Gregory nursed a broken thumb. Overall, he played in 36.9 percent of the defensive snaps last season, recording 31 tackles and two interceptions.
(Re)Signing Patrick Chung
In an odd and debatable move, the Patriots elected to bring back Patrick Chung. A second round pick of the Patriots in 2009, Chung spent four seasons in New England, before bolting to the Philadelphia Eagles on a three-year, $30 million contract via free agency. Chung lasted just one year into the deal, before being cut at the end of the season. He was unable to force a single turnover last season, looking lost in the Eagles’ secondary.
Even with history in the Patriots’ defensive system, Chung will presumably need an impressive showing in training camp to make the roster.
Cutting Adrian Wilson
In a decision that came to the shock of little, the Patriots cut Adrian Wilson. The five-time Pro Bowl safety signed a three-year, $15 million deal last offseason. However, he was placed on season-ending injured reserve at the end of last year’s preseason. The 34-year-old never played a single snap for the Patriots.