The Patriots don't often make a huge splash in free agency but this year was different. New England signed arguably the highest-profile free agent available on the market in cornerback Darrelle Revis, and instantly the former Jet and Buc transformed the secondary.
But Revis wasn't the only addition the team made during the spring. In fact, he wasn't even the only cornerback to sign in New England. Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman's former running mate in Seattle, also inked a deal with the Patriots, giving the team the potential to have two new starting corners in 2014.
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, offers the team a little more size at the position at 6-2. He can play on the outside and perhaps offer some red zone production. Linebacker James Anderson, defensive end Will Smith and safety Patrick Chung also agreed to terms with the Patriots as free agents.
Our Samsonite Make Your Case question this week is, aside from Revis, which free agent addition will have the biggest impact for the Patriots?
PFW's Andy Hart says …
While he's not nearly the talent that Darrelle Revis is, Browner has the tools to be a major contributor in the Patriots retooled secondary. He's the biggest cornerback the Patriots have had in a long, long time. He's a man cover guy who can match up with bigger receivers. He's an experienced starter in the league, who also has a track record of being the No. 2 corner opposite an elite cover guy. That's the role he'll fill once again this fall.
Browner has 10 career interceptions in 36 career games, including six in 16 games in 2011. When teams avoid Revis, Browner will have the chance to continue to make plays. Browner is a unique physical talent for Bill Belichick to deploy in a variety of ways. He brings size, experience and playmaking ability to the New England secondary and should be a significant positive factor in the defense making major strides in 2014.
PFW's Paul Perillo says …
LaFell battled through some inconsistency in Carolina but he has the ability to contribute right away in the Patriots offense. He has the size at 6-2 to offer more of a threat in the red zone on the outside, something we've already seen during OTAs, and with Tom Brady throwing him the football his production should increase.
LaFell also has the opportunity to make a big impact given the Patriots lack of outside threats at the receiver position. Only Aaron Dobson projects as an outside receiver among the team's corps of wideouts expected to remain on the roster, so LaFell will have every chance to make his mark with his new club.
While the transition to a new offense won't be easy, and it hasn't always been for new receivers in the past, LaFell has an edge in experience and should be able to grab a role immediately. Once he gets comfortable, I expect him to contribute regularly and become a reliable target for Brady to use on the outside.
Now it's your turn to cast your vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.**