|Free Agent Snapshot: Brent Grimes||02.18.12 at 12:33 am ET|
We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of cornerback Brent Grimes. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window is from February 20 to March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:
Weight: 183 pounds
The Patriots have some shifting parts in their secondary, but the addition of someone like Grimes could be an intriguing fit with the New England secondary. Grimes is coming off a great year with the Falcons, but Atlanta has some hard decisions to make when it comes to free agents and its defense — Atlanta’s defensive statistical leaders who could be free agents are linebacker Curtis Lofton (tackles) (tackles), defensive end John Abraham (sacks), safety Thomas DeCoud (interceptions) and Grimes (passes defensed). With so many franchise tag possibilities, that increases the chances that Grimes will be available when free agency begins on March 13.
If Grimes does avoid the franchise tag, the Patriots could find themselves with a shot at the Shippensburg product, who has quietly become one of the better corners in the league over the last two years. An undrafted free agent, since the start of the 2010 season, Grimes has broken up 28 passes and intercepted six more in that time frame. Using Grimes at corner, along with Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty (with McCourty continues to play some free safety on third-down and other passing situations) would likely bring an end to the days of utilizing Julian Edelman as a defensive back.
Some critics whisper about Grimes’ character. At the same time, it’s important to remember that over the last four seasons, Grimes has played in Atlanta, a franchise run by Thomas Dimitroff. Dimitroff made his bones in the New England front office (from 2002 until 2007), and has tried to build the Falcons in the image of the Bill Belichick-run Patriots. With that in mind, it seems unlikely that Dimitroff would tolerate Grimes if he were a clubhouse malcontent.
Why it might not work: Money. Grimes is one of (if not) the best unrestricted free agent corners on the market, and will likely command a hefty price tag. In addition, New England has rarely thrown big dollars at defensive backs. (One thing that could help the Patriots is that it appears to be a relatively deep free-agent class, with Grimes, Aaron Ross, Carlos Rogers, Tracy Porter, Terrell Thomas and William Gay all likely to hit the market, which should drive Grimes’ price down.) If New England chooses not to invest in a premier corner or spend one of its first four picks on a corner in the draft, fair or not, it could be seen as a referendum on the Patriots’ feelings on Ras-I Dowling, a 2011 draftee who was injured for most of his rookie season.