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Free agent snapshot: Brent Grimes

02.05.14 at 6:00 am ET
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When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. With the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag, here are a few possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that these guys aren’€™t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they are players we think would be a good fit in New England. We started our series with looks at Anquan Boldin, Emmanuel Sanders, Dennis Pitta, Eric Decker, Jacoby Jones and Arthur Jones. Now, it’€™s Brent Grimes.

BRENT GRIMES
Position: Cornerback
Age: 30 (will turn 31 on July 19)
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 190 pounds

The skinny: Here we are, back again to advocate for Grimes as a Patriot. (If you’€™re just tuning in, we did this the last two years. Hey, you can’€™t say we’€™re not consistent, right?) Anyway, very little has changed when it comes to our feelings on Grimes — a tough, dependable corner who is the sort of underdog story the Patriots love. He was an undrafted free agent out of Shippensburg who battled his way into the Falcons starting lineup and ended up starting 44 games in just over five years in Atlanta, and came away with 13 picks in that stretch, including 11 interceptions in 2009 and 2010. For his efforts, he landed a Pro Bowl spot in 2010. After an Achilles€™ injury sidelined him for almost all of 2012 — his last year with the Falcons — he bounced back to play in all 16 games with the Dolphins last season and had 16 passes defensed and four picks for Miami. (He was one of four Dolphins to reach the Pro Bowl — the second Pro Bowl nod of his career.) While age is becoming an issue, his smarts, durability and versatility (he’€™s played both left and right corner) make him a very good corner in the league.

By the numbers: +16.4 – The final grade given to Grimes for his work this past season by Pro Football Focus. It was second among all corners in the NFL, trailing only Tampa Bay’€™s Darrelle Revis, who was at 18.2.

Why it would work: If the Patriots aren’t able to re-sign Aqib Talib, Grimes figures to be an excellent Plan B. As we said, he’€™s got the underdog approach that certainly would fit in Foxboro. He’€™s a well-respected locker room guy who would also bring a positive attitude to Gillette Stadium. And the chance to swipe the best cornerback from a division rival is something that can’€™t be overlooked.

Why it might not work: Grimes enters the market as one of the best corners available, and as a result he’€™ll likely be in line for a pretty good payday. While he fits the Patriots’ traditional body type when it comes to cornerbacks, if New England is interested in following in the Seahawks‘€™ footsteps when it comes to the secondary, the slightly undersized Grimes probably won’€™t measure up. And there’s always the possibility he’s franchise by the Dolphins — it happened to him once when he was with the Falcons, and given the state of the market and Miami’s need at corner, it certainly could happen again.

Quote: “I like it here. I like the coaches, I like the players and it’€™s a good team. Obviously, we didn’t finish how we wanted to and close out the season well. But I just let my agents handle everything. If [the Dolphins] want to keep me here, they’€™ll see how it goes.” — Grimes to ESPN following the end of the 2013 season

Our take: As we stated, Grimes would be a good fallback plan if the Patriots are unable to come to terms with Talib, but he certainly wouldn’t come cheap. Several folks around the league regard Grimes as the No. 1 corner available this spring in free agency — and that’€™s even if he reaches the market. (The Dolphins might be forced to franchise him.) If he is available and Talib walks, New England should make Grimes a priority. And if they don’t, we’€™ll likely be back here once again next year.

Read More: Aqib Talib, Brent Grimes, free agent snapshot,
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