Poaching the Patriots …is it Payback Time in Miami?
HoF talent and longevity: hard to copy the Patriot’s success.
The New England Patriots are playing in their NFL record 10th Super Bowl. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are arguably the best Coach/Quarterback combination to ever play the game. They are finishing a remarkable 17th season together. Every team in the league envies the Pats position: top talent in the most critical spots and long term stability.
Poaching of talent from other teams is key to Patriot’s record
As Phins News previously noted (here), the Patriots have repeatedly poached top talent from other teams, certainly including the Dolphins. Who can forget Wes Welker? Two former Dolphins will play for the Pats Sunday: Chris Hogan and Mike Gillislee.
Of course, they were ‘poached’ from the Bills, who found treasure in our trash…
Dolphins brass will be keeping a close eye on this game. The Patriots have quite a few of their key players set to become free agents this next month. Miami could create a double whammy, poaching a talented, productive player, while leaving the Pats with one less. Both teams have tight 2018 CAP numbers, but the Phins have a bit more CAP flexibility.
It could well be Patriots payback time for the Dolphins
The Pats will have 15 UFAs next month, less any resigned before then. Of those, the Phins should be interested in proven starters at positions of need and seeking their first FA contract. With those criteria in mind, the Patriot players to keep an eye on are:
- OT Cameron Fleming
- RB Dion Lewis
- RB Rex Burkhead
- LB Marquis Flowers
- CB Malcolm Butler.
Each of those players at their respective positions would fill a need on our team. We definitely need another Offensive Lineman, Running Back and Linebacker.
Of those players, I am particularly intrigued by OT Cameron Fleming and LB Marquis Flowers. Both RBs Lewis and Burkhead are productive players. Lewis is a bit too similar to Drake’s running style and likely outside of our price range. Burkhead could be a nice complement to Drake, similar to Damien Williams. However Miami has shown an ability to draft quality running backs even in later rounds. The best football software providers are betting that they will try that path again to find another running back.
Cameron Fleming is a solid pass blocking Right Tackle
Cameron Fleming is 25 years old, has played in this league for 4 years, and started 20+ games. Previously a backup for LT Solder and RT Cannon, he got his chance to start when Cannon was put on IR. He has been the Pats starting RT down the stretch.
His career-high 78.1 overall PFF grade is a byproduct of above average pass protection and serviceable run-blocking. PFF ranked him 28th in pass-blocking efficiency at 95.5. That included 10 total pressures (6 hurries, 0 hits, 4 sacks) on 191 pass-blocking snaps. He earned a just above average grade on his run blocking. PFF rank is 25th OT overall.
Cannon is expected to reclaim his starting role with the Pats. That would likely make Fleming’s price tag a bit too high for the Patriots to re-sign him as a backup. It’s likely Sunday will be his last game with them.
On the other hand, rumors abound that Miami will rescind the 5th year, $9.3 mil option on starting (and former 1st round pick) RT Ja’wuan James. They may either waive him or try to renegotiate a lower price. James has very similar stats, PFF graded 80.0 overall (17th ranked OT), and play characteristics. However, the FA OT list is considered terrible by most and other teams may well be willing to offer James substantially more. If Miami actually rescinds James option, Fleming could well be a less expensive RT replacement.
Marquis Flowers is a Cover Line Backer, exactly what we need
Marquis Flowers is also 25 years old and in his fourth season. Late this season, when Donta Hightower went down with an injury, Flowers finally got his chance to start. He filled in quite well, with 32 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble, proving to be a cornerstone of the Patriots defense. Flowers has shown the speed and athletic ability to spy Quarterbacks and play pass coverage, something the Dolphins could clearly benefit from. He could be a very nice addition to our linebacking group.
What are the rest of the Miami Dolphins News fans thoughts of signing one of these Patriot free agents in March?