As recently history has shown, with Tom Brady as their quarterback, the New England Patriots are a perennial Super Bowl contender. Yet, the Patriots have been unable to win the big game in recent years, coming up small in the big spot, seemingly over and over again.
Whether it was the two Super Bowl defeats to the Giants or the recent loss in the 2012 AFC Championship game, the Pats have simply been unable to get it done in the biggest moments and often it has been the defense that has let them down.
Well, with the career of Brady winding down and the championship window closing, it is time for the Patriots to go all in and do whatever it takes to surround Brady with enough talent to win a fourth Super Bowl championship
With that in mind, the Patriots should seriously entertain the idea of signing Charles Woodson and Dwight Freeney, two recently released defensive stalwarts that could help the Pats finally get over the hump in 2013.
While Woodson and Freeney are hardly the players they once were, both can still contribute in a meaningful way to a contending team and as far as contenders are concerned, now team would be a better fit for each player than the Patriots.
Let’s start with Woodson. The former University of Michigan star is now 38-years old and has clearly lost a step. There is no debating that Woodson is not the same guy that was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, yet despite his injury hampered 2012 season, he still has something to offer.
In large part due to their incredibly efficient offense, the Patriots often find themselves in the lead, which means playing a lot of nickel defense. That creates the perfect scenario for Woodson to succeed. The former top-5 draft choice thrived in Green Bay as a nickel corner. He was outstanding in run support, covering the slot and applying pressure on the quarterback.
Woodson is a jack-of-all trades kind of player and no coach could use him more effectively than Patriots head man Bill Belichick. Furthermore, if Woodson was used solely in nickel situations, his diminishing cover skills would be exposed less and his playmaking abilities would come to the forefront.
During his 15-year career with the Raiders and Packers, Woodson has notched 55 interceptions, 29 forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries along with 17 sacks. He has a knack for making big plays on defense and that Patriots are in desperate need of some defensive playmakers.
The Patriots are also in need of a pass-rusher and that is where Freeney comes in. Sure, the long-time Colt may not be the player he once was and he is coming off a season in which he posted just five sacks. Yet, if used correctly, he can still be a difference maker.
The 33-year old defensive end out of Syracuse has seen his production decline and after averaging over 10 sacks a year in his first nine seasons; he has only 13 sacks over the past two seasons.
Yet, Freeney is still good enough to rush the passer and while his days as a full-time player are over, Belichick is the best at getting players to succeed in defined roles, which would be perfect for Freeney, who could be to provide the pass rushing presence the Pats have sorely been missing the past few seasons.
Woodson and Freeney are no longer all-pro caliber players, but there is still enough left in the tank for each to contribute in a meaningful way in 2013. Moreover, if somehow, both ended up in New England with contacts that were short-term and affordable, it could help add to a defense that desperate needs some playmaking, while not breaking the bank for the future.
The Patriots should be doing all they can to win now and with just four draft picks in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft, they will need to address their defense through free agency. That is where Woodson and Freeney come in, two players past their prime with just enough left for one more run to the Super Bowl.