Amid a flurry of NFL free agent signings over the past three days, and the Wes Welker drama squelched with a stunning move to Denver, the New England Patriots are still in the hunt to fill out their roster for next season.
New England’s secondary problems have been well documented, and the team is reportedly hosting Arizona free-agent safety Adrian Wilson, according to NFL.com.
But the club will also bring in veteran pass rushers Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, according to USA Today.
Since 2010, the Patriots haven’t finished higher than 29th in passing defense, and Wilson was part of a Cardinals' secondary that ranked fifth last season. The 13-year veteran has 27 career interceptions and 101 passes defended, spending his entire NFL career with Arizona.
The free-agent market has been flooded with top-flight defensive backs like Wilson, Charles Woodson, and Nnamdi Asomugha.
However Wilson might be a cheaper alternative, considering his last contract with Cardinals had an average of $4.1 million a season, compared to the larger deals Woodson and Asomugha garnered in their careers.
New England has roughly $24 million in salary cap space, thanks in large part to quarterback Tom Brady restructuring his contract for a base salary of $1 million for 2013 coupled with a $12 million signing bonus. That extra money also comes from New England letting four-year safety Patrick Chung walk to the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday.
The Patriots pass rush also hovered around the middle of the league with 37 sacks last season, tied for 15th overall, and both Freeney and Abraham could be excellent tutors for emerging defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Don’t’a Hightower.
With a combined 24 years and 229.5 sacks, Freeney and Abraham would teach technique as well as leadership skills.
After Indianapolis announced they would release Freeney in February, he was immediately linked to the Denver Broncos and former Colts teammate Peyton Manning. Denver is currently trying to slash Elvis Dumervil’s salary due to poor performance and injuries, and the belief was Freeney would step in right away for another chance to work with Manning.
Abraham. 35, was released by the Atlanta Falcons in a salary dump after serving the first year of a three-year deal. He reportedly already met with the San Francisco 49ers last week, and drew interest from Seattle, but that was before they signed Cliff Avril to a two-year deal.
Abraham is also very familiar with the Patriots and the AFC East, playing the first six years of his career with the New York Jets.