Patriots Off-season Needs, Part 3
By Chris Goodhue, Site Contributor
Renaldo Hill (#21)
The cornerback position was one that was under major scrutiny during the 2004 campaign. Despite undrafted players Randall Gay and Earthwind Moreland playing above and beyond expectations, there were certainly times (like the second Miami game) where the secondary looked overmatched. The acquisition of Arizonas Duane Starks will certainly help fill the veteran presence lost when perennial All-Pro Ty Law was served his walking papers.
Starks is a ball hawk when healthy; he has picked off 25 passes in 6 full seasons in the league. It is likely that he will be the number one corner heading into training camp, with a battle between Asante Samuel, the aforementioned Gay, and possibly veteran Tyrone Poole (if he is not released by then) for the number two slot. Former Steeler Hank Poteat will be battling for a job as well if he remains on the roster by then. While corner is not the Patriots most pressing need, it never hurts to add depth to an overall young unit like this one.
The best available corner on the market is the one the Patriots just axed Ty Law. Needless to say, he will not be pursued by the team. It is not a shutdown corner that the team needs as much as depth now that theyve acquired Starks. One name that comes to mind is Starks former teammate in Arizona; Renaldo Hill. A seventh round pick in the 2001 draft, Hill has intercepted 6 passes and defended 21 since becoming a starter in 2003. In New England, he would probably settle in dime package situations as a third or fourth corner.
Aaron Beasley (#37)
One veteran with good size (60, 205) is the Falcons Aaron Beasley. Once a starter for both the Jaguars and Jets early in his career, he played mostly in dime situations for Atlanta with maximum results. Beasley had 4 interceptions this past season in only 3 starts. In his career, hes picked off 24 balls and forced 10 fumbles. He could come at a cheap price for someone with a lot of experience, and a franchise looking for value like the Pats could certainly get their moneys worth.
Former Buccaneer and Cowboy Mario Edwards is a physical type corner with decent size (60, 189 lbs.) but is not much of a playmaker with only 4 interceptions in 5 years. Veteran Nick Harper was good enough to start for Indianapolis, but he gets burned too much to compete for consistent playing time with many teams, especially this one. Other veteran options include recent Baltimore cut Corey Fuller, Carolinas Artrell Hawkins, perennial Pats training camp cut Terrell Buckley, and the aging Ray Buchanan.
One the more pressing needs that generally is overlooked is that of the backup to 2-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady. It has become apparent that while Rohan Davey has a cannon for an arm, he is not very accurate with his passes. Jim Miller has departed to be number 2 on the Giants depth chart behind Eli Manning. The Pats signed former Ravens starter Chris Redman near the end of the 2004 season, but he has not thrown an NFL pass in 2 years.
Former Super Bowl winning QB Brad Johnson is at the point in his career where he should be a backup. He has thrown 143 touchdowns vs. only 98 interceptions since his 1994 debut and could bring leadership to the huddle were Brady to go down. Former Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler was (signed with Jets) on the open market, and was courted by the Pats last season to backup Brady. He has started 60 games since 1999. Vinny Testaverde is out there, but may have cashed in his new personal Social Security account by the time camp rolls around.
Gus Frerotte filled in nicely when Daunte Culpepper was down for a few games in 2003, throwing for 690 yards, 7 TDs and 2 INTs. For his career he has 77 TDs vs. 66 INTs. Mike McMahon (signed with Philadelphia) has showed flashes of brilliance in the few opportunities that he has had to play, making plays with both his arm and legs. He could start for a few teams. Guys that will not be brought in for interviews are Pats fan favorite Kordell Stewart, former Bengals gunslinger Jeff Blake, and the original Ryan Leaf ..Rick Mirer.
Chris Goodhue has been a leading fantasy football and baseball expert since 1999. He can usually be found at a local Boston area sports bar settling arguments of sports history, but in case you can't find him out there, send your questions and feedback to cgoodhue in the Insider Forums.
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