EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 18, 2014

Belichick crushing it in free agency

Nothing but home runs out of Pats boss this free-agent period

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

---- — All you “Patriots” types haven’t slept in days, wondering where Bob Kraft is going to find all this free-agent cash and if/how Bill Belichick can keep this New England football franchise from collapsing under salary-cap strain.

I ask: Why am I so content?

If Belichick found some crazy way to move all the way up the draft board on latch on to Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in the top five, I just might convert to the “In Bill We Trust,” crowd.

OK, the Watkins thing is a pipe dream, but what Belichick did last week, reeling in a pair of proven, legit , large, physical corners in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner put this football team — one which was listing badly — right back into the hunt.

After all those bad corners drafted, all those smurfs, they again belong in the conversation with the elite clubs in the game.

Yesterday, via conference call, Browner and Revis met the New England media.

“It’s going to be fun,” promises Browner, the former Seahawk who will sit out the first four games of his Pats’ tenure on a league-imposed suspension. “There are a lot of other DBs up there. Very good football players, (Devin) McCourty is a good football player himself. Revis, he’s one of the guys I studied. He’s a really good technician, so to say. He always has a good base, good balance in his backpedal.

“So, it’ll be fun to play with someone like that. I always need someone to push me, sort of like what I had with Richard Sherman and those guys, what I had up there. We sort of pushed each other, day-in, day-out.”

Talk about music to a Pats’ fan’s ears. Revis brings an air of legitimacy by himself. But, with Browner, driven to prove he’s right there with the game’s best? Belichick must have a grin a mile wide.

With Revis, the Pats get a fresh, in-his-prime clone of Ty Law, who by chance is a family friend and confidant as both hail from the Pittsburgh suburb of Aliquippa.

“Ty has been a mentor through my whole life. I talk to Ty all the time — about life and football,” said Revis. “I’m just happy that he was there. He’s on my side and if I can bounce questions off of him and ask him certain things because he has a lot of experience then that’s what I can do. Ty’s always there in my corner to help me whether it’s football or life. I thank Ty for that.”

A Hall of Fame-bound superstar, who’s taking his cues from the incomparable Ty Law? We’ve died and gone to Pats heaven.

Meanwhile, it’s forced a major change in my approach.

Not sure when it happened. It was probably around Week 4 or 5 last year when I dropped my “get Brady the best weapons possible” campaign and changed my tack.

The bottom line is, if a journeyman like Julian Edelman, someone who tried to market himself to the NFL this winter and found no takers, can catch 100-plus balls in a season, it has to be the quarterback.

Edelman, new guy Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, the young guns Aaron Dobson or Kenbrell Thompkins? Brady will milk the catches. Unless Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones come walking through the door, just keep bringing in the small-timers and hope one blossoms — just like Edelman did.

As long as the blue-chippers keep coming on this defense, there is a new reason to be enthusiastic about the Pats.

Bill, next up is a head-hunting safety or a pass-rusher. Make it happen.