There's still plenty of work to be done in Foxborough with mini-camp on the way and training camp to follow about six weeks later. But the media got a chance to create some early impressions of the work on the field during OTAs and with a handful of newcomers in the fold it seems like a good time to assess things.
Obviously the work on the fields to this point has been without pads and with an emphasis on teaching rather than evaluation, a point that Bill Belichick has made constantly throughout the years. So evaluating a player's performance at this stage probably isn't fair, but rather than focusing on the actually play on the field Team PFW tried to assess the personnel groupings and things of that nature in an effort to better understand where some player may fit in come September and beyond.
With that in mind this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week takes a look at the free agent additions the Patriots made and asks: Which veteran newcomer will make the biggest impact for the Patriots this season?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Patriots signed free agent Tight End Scott Chandler. Check out our favorite photos from Chandler's time with the Buffalo Bills.
Chandler has been a productive player in this league as a team's No. 1 tight end and without the benefit of a decent quarterback. He was still able to catch six scores twice and haul in 43 or more passes three times.
Now he's playing behind the most dominant, uncoverable tight end in the game and will be catching passes from Tom Brady. He's a major addition to the passing attack as another big (6-7), sure-handed red zone option. Chandler will be an afterthought for opposing defenses trying to deal with Gronk, but he'll be a nice secondary option for Brady to focus on when the need arises.
The Patriots have already done a lot of work this spring in practice with the two-tight end towers playing off of each other with combo routes in the red zone. Chandler could be a Brandon LaFell-like pleasant surprise in 2015 as a complementary contributor to an already impressive offensive lineup.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="334516"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]Out of all of the free agent additions Fletcher may be facing the most pressure considering the current state of the secondary. He'll be in the mix for one of the two vacant cornerback positions, and I believe the veteran will win one of the jobs and be asked to at least fill part of the void left by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
I feel Fletcher's veteran status after four years in St. Louis and two in Philly puts him at the top of the free agent list when considering the opportunity he's going to have to step into a big role. Fletcher is going to have to perform better than he did last year but I believe with Bill Belichick's ability to accentuate his players' positives that he will bounce back and at least be a serviceable starter.
By no means am I expecting Fletcher to conjure memories of Revis, but his experience couple with opportunity will allow him to emerge as a starter and therefore make the biggest impact of the Patriots veteran free agent class.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.