Patriots Talk: Rumored Free Agent Signings in 2017
by Stephen Hilton
As of right now, the New England Patriots have had only one free agent signing thus far into the 2017 off-season and that was with Patriots’ [Fullback] James Develin. Right now, there are flurries of rumors going around of other potential veteran players that are wanting to come to New England for one simple purpose: getting a Super Bowl ring. It’s the same reason that veteran players like Darrelle Revis, (in 2014) Chris Long and Martellus Bennet (in 2016) came to New England. The success and consistency of winning has been part of the Patriots’ culture for the past 16 years and it has made them a team that many are willing to join, but only at the right price.
One of the biggest talks for free agency is Minnesota Vikings [Running Back] Adrian Peterson. One of the most dominant running backs of the last decade, Peterson is already turning 31 years old and since he suffered injury through much of the 2016 regular season, he is hasn’t got much time left in him. The Minnesota Vikings on February 28th, 2017 did not allow Peterson to exercise his 2017 option on his contract and therefore he will be a free agent effectively March 9th.
Peterson has expressed interest in joining the Patriots for a discount price. However, do the Patriots really want to take the risk on a player that not only is 31 years of age, but also has a domestic case of child abuse? In 2014, Peterson was found guilty of hitting his four-year-old son and had him suspended by the NFL for the remainder of the 2016 before being reinstated the following season. The reality is while Peterson already has made plenty of money in his career (approximately $97 million), there is no role that the Patriots will need for him.
The Patriots have already allowed Legarrette Blount to head into free agency so while having a player of Peterson’s caliber would be quite an improvement in terms of depth, he doesn’t fulfill the role Blount did which is to be a straight power back. The Patriots already possess two elusive backs in James White and Dion Lewis. This isn’t even including Peterson’s bad tendency to fumble the ball in big games or the possibility he has lost a step due to his injury history. While having the possibility of Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson on the same side of the ball would be a nightmare match up for any defense, having another player that doesn’t buy into Bill Belicheck‘s system could lead to issues down the stretch even if its for only a one year rental.
Chance of this signing: 50/50. If Peterson plays for a cheap 1 year contract, will listen to what the Patriots coaches tell him to do and keeps all his bad habits out for the entirety of his stay in the New England, then the signing could happen but as it stands, I find this somewhat doubtful.
New England Patriots Are Being Tied To A Former Member Of The New York Jets
Another name brought up is Brandon Marshall, the New York Jets [Wide Receiver]. Marshall’s name has been a frequent name that has been brought up in recent weeks to sign with the Patriots once it was announced he was hitting free agency. Many NFL analysts including Cris Carter have stated that Marshall should consider joining the Patriots. Marshall being 32 years old and coming off an underwhelming 2016 campaign, going from catching sixty-three percent of his catches in 2015 to just forty-six percent, could be a bad indication he is on the decline.
Marshall doesn’t have much time left in him to earn a ring so coming to New England would be his best bet at winning a Super Bowl. He has been on four NFL teams in his career: Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears and New York Jets. He has been through many different teams and not one has been able to get a single playoff game win during his time there.
According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, there is a ‘mutual interest’ between the two parties. However, there are not talks until March 9th when free agency officially begins. Marshall also has his connection with Josh McDaniels when he was the Denver Broncos [Head Coach] from 2009-2010 before leaving for the former St. Louis Rams in 2011.
So for what its worth, Brandon Marshall would be an interesting addition because of several things. If he was signed by the Patriots, he would be the only receiver on the roster that has been selected as an All-Pro or even selected to a Pro Bowl as a wide receiver (Matt Slater was selected to every Pro Bowl as a special teams player and the last Patriots wide receiver to make the Pro Bowl was unsurprisingly Wes Welker in 2012). His ability to break and dodge tackles after contact and has been stated by many to be one of his most distinguished traits. One player was on record as saying:
“Brandon Marshall is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver,” Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “He wants to inflict punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards.”
Besides football, Marshall is also tied to the NFL media as he works on Inside the NFL, a TV show on ShowTime network (that is still under CBS holding) with fellow host Phil Simms and frequent commentators such as Boomer Esiason, Adam Schien, Michael Irvin, and James Brown. This puts him into a bad position because Belicheck doesn’t like the media at all. If he were to be signed, he would need to completely put his job as an NFL commentator to rest if he signs with the Patriots as anything he says could be used against him.
Finally, his mental illness and legal issues. Marshall has had frequent bouts with the law dating back all the way to 2004 and the latest in 2012. His history of getting into issues has since been mostly quiet over the last five years when he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder on June 30th, 2011 during his visit to Boston’s McLean Hospital after his stabbing incident with his wife, Michi Nogami-Campbell, in April of that year. Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that known for abnormal behavior that is characterized by having unstable relationships, sense of self, and emotions. This means he has a ton of emotional issues that could have implications if he were to be brought into the Patriots locker room.
Chances of being signed: 30/70 Brandon Marshal while being a very solid player across the board, has too much other baggage that he carries that could turn off any chance of signing with the Patriots to consider him. This wouldn’t be the first controversial signing that the Patriots have made obviously but there are more important priorities to handle other than wide receiver. Marshall has stayed clean for the most part now, he is treating his illness and has been doing well with his side business as NFL commentator but he needs to make sure he stays that way because otherwise there is a very small chance that the Patriots will agree to signing him even if its for 1-year.
Edit: At this time, Adrian Peterson has stated that he would prefer to play for either the Seattle Seahawks or the Oakland Raiders. He has also admitted to wish to play for the Patriots but he feel it is unlikely to happen.
Brandon Marshall has been confirmed that he will be part of the New York Giants for the 2017 season. He signed a two year contract worth over twelve million. This will be the fifth team Marshall has joined within his eleven year career.