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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

With Revis Gone, how Will the Patriots Go About Replacing the All-Pro?

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Kyle Arrington (in blue) is an option for the Patriots in their quest to replace Revis

There’s no beating around the bush here: the best defensive player the Patriots have had on the roster since Andre Tippett has flown the coop. New England had Darrelle Revis for just under a calendar year, and what a glorious year it was. As soon as the future hall of fame corner committed to the Patriots—on a discounted deal no less—, fans began booking their flights to Phoenix to witness Belichick and company’s fourth Super Bowl win.
And it happened exactly as it was supposed to.
But just a couple of weeks after the parade, murmurs started about how the front office would handle what has always been the most frustrating time of year for fans: the new league year and the start of free agency. The Patriots had plenty of players on the market and it was immediately apparent that they wouldn’t all be staying (see you later Shane Vereen, Vince Wilfork), but the one guy every fan in New England wanted, needed on this team was Revis. The re-signing of Devon McCourty was nice—he’s a really nice player —but is relatively insignificant. It would have been fine with me (and the majority of other fans) if the Patriots let McCourty walk to keep Revis. It just was not meant to be as Revis signed a five year, $70 million deal to return to the Jets, and he recently said that Patriots offer was “not in the ballpark.” Brandon Browner, the number two corner and a (literally) huge piece, left to join the Saints. That’s a tough blow, and now that we’re done weeping about it, let’s look at some alternatives for filling the hole Revis and Browner left in the secondary.
1. Malcolm Butler
Butler made a fantastic play to give the Patriots their fourth championship. He upended Ricardo Lockette at the goal line after making a great break on the ball to get a season saving interception. It is truly one of the best moments in franchise history. However, one play does not a shutdown corner make. You’ll recall that Butler was the third corner in the game for the Patriots, behind Revis and Browner on the depth chart. In fact, he was really the fourth corner but Logan Ryan was getting schooled so they tried Butler instead. If Butler had been on Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse, who knows if he makes that play? Butler was a rookie last year who didn’t see a lot of playing time, and he only has one career interception. He’s talented but at this point the Patriots would be foolish to think that he could be an acceptable replacement for Revis.
2. Alfonzo Dennard/Kyle Arrington
Dennard and Arrington are nice players, but they’ve been around for a while and we basically know what we’re getting out of them. Arrington has a tendency to get beat over the top, and Dennard is often injured and has trouble staying on the field. The pair will be important for the Patriots next season but they will not be able to replace Revis or Browner. In fact, they could both fall behind Butler on the depth chart if they don’t perform well in camp. They have combined for 12 career interceptions, but seven of those came from Arrington in his stellar 2011 season.
3. The draft
This is an intriguing option. The Patriots are very unpredictable around draft time and can always pull off a surprise and move up, but they’re more likely to trade back down and take their chances on a corner from a small school, or one coming off an injury or suspension. This is a pretty solid draft for corners, and there will be some good value sitting there at the end of the first round if the Patriots decide to use the 32nd overall pick. Connecticut’s Byron Jones has some freakish measurable numbers (like a 4.45 40 and a combine-record 12’3 broad jump) and the Patriots have reportedly shown some interest. We’ll have to see if he’s still around, and if they bite, but he’d be a good addition.
4. Robotic tackling dummy
I may like this idea the most. Just take a tackling dummy, place it on four wheels, and allow Belichick to control it from the sidelines. It would be faster than any human corner, and it wouldn’t tire out (my vision is to make a gas powered one to sub in if the electric one runs out of battery). Because its sole purpose in life to that point would have been to be tackled, it would have a chip on its shoulder and look for some payback. That’s what you want in football: that edge and furocity from someone who has been told his whole life that he’d never amount to anything. The lack of arms is a drawback, but as everyone says, “in Bill we trust.” He’ll find a way to make this work.