Ryan Spagnoli | Pats Militia: As if the Patriots needed any more weapons, they have gone out and grabbed even more and are dominating the NFL off-season.
The trades for Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen were superb, but New England being able to keep All-Pro linebacker Dont’a Hightower was the cherry on top. The Patriots were also able to keep veteran run stopper Alan Branch and safety Duron Harmon on team friendly deals.
Yes, there is no question the Patriots have lost key guys from last years Super Bowl title. However, they have gone out and arguably got better players to replace the ones that left. Stephon Gilmore was handed the most money for a defensive player in Patriots history to replace Logan Ryan, who also got a big pay in Tennessee. Gilmore is a lockdown, Pro Bowl corner back who will be a force with Malcolm Butler (if he’s kept around). They lost Martellus Bennett, which was expected, but went out and traded a 6th round pick for Dwayne Allen, a smaller version of Bennett but is three years younger and a fantastic run blocker at his position. Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard have gone elsewhere, but New England brought in a pass rusher in Kony Ealy, who is in a contract year looking to prove himself.
Dont’a Hightower coming back gives New England their ‘quarterback’ back on defense. Hightower is a true leader in the heart of New England’s defense and is known for his big play ability after saving the last two Super Bowl’s for New England. The other reason the signing of Hightower was so big for New England is they were able to keep him away from a conference rival who was much in need for a line backer.
The one down fall from this off-season is the Patriots and Pro Bowl corner back Malcolm Butler have failed to reach a deal, mainly after New England invested a lot of their cap into Stephon Gilmore. However, New England does not have a 1st or 2nd round pick due to off-season trades, and if Butler is going to walk, look for Belichick and company to try and work out a deal to get some draft picks back.
New England still has some cap room left and a draft coming up in April, but some people believe the Patriots may not be done adding more. The Malcolm Butler situation hasn’t full unraveled yet and no one knows what is going to happen with Jimmy Garoppolo. However, it’s hard to argue that New England hasn’t loaded up and once again in search for another shiny, silver trophy in the beginning of February.