|Potential Patriots: Brian Williams||02.12.11 at 12:30 am ET|
Despite the looming labor uncertainty, as free agency approaches, WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that could be available to the Patriots in free agency this offseason.
Why the Patriots would be interested: Assuming that the Patriots get Leigh Bodden back healthy next season, the duo of Bodden and Devin McCourty could be one of the top corner tandems in the league. However, New England still needs to build depth at the position, and the possibility of a well-traveled veteran like the 31-year-old Williams providing quality snaps in relief of Bodden or McCourty or as a slot corner would make a lot of sense.
Why it would happen: There figure to be other, higher-profile corners on the market this offseason (Nnamdi Asomugha, Champ Bailey), but the Patriots are simply looking to build depth at the spot this offseason, and Williams, an unrestricted free agent, is as good a choice as any. He’s not a starter — age and injury have made sure of that — but he’s a smart veteran with a good rep. Williams has some positional versatility, as he’s played both corner and safety over the course of his career. It doesn’t appear the Falcons will franchise Williams, and he would almost certainly come at a reasonable price. He won’t remind anyone of Ty Law, but could provide a bridge year to younger corners or even step in in a pinch.
Why it won’t happen: Since 2005, when it comes to acquiring veteran free agent corners near the end of their careers, New England’s track record is pretty bad: Duane Starks. Shawn Springs. Deltha O’Neal. Lewis Sanders. Guh. In addition, the Patriots would seem unlikely to be interested in going too deep into their pockets for someone like Williams. For a veteran nearing the end of his career, if he’s interested in one final big splash, he won’t find it in New England.
Chances: The Patriots would be after a very specific type of player in this case — a veteran backup corner who would be capable of working in the slot and in occasional relief of the starters. If New England is looking to build depth at the position with a veteran corner and not spend a ton of dough, Williams seems like one of the best options out there.
Some alternatives: Richard Marshall (Carolina), Ike Taylor (Steelers), Chris Carr (Baltimore), Corey Graham (Chicago), Carlos Rogers (Washington).
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