Five big-splash FAs for the Patriots

Would the New England Patriots be better off signing Mike Wallace instead of Wes Welker? Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In reworking Tom Brady's contract, the New England Patriots have now all but assured that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time will end his career in Foxborough.

As ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss notes, the move also gives the Patriots some much-needed cap space to pursue free agents.

That space could justifiably be used to re-sign Wes Welker, Aqib Talib or Sebastian Vollmer, but what if New England decides it would be better served by going outside its own roster in an effort to improve? More to the point, New England now has the opportunity to make a big splash in free agency. Which top-shelf target should the Patriots pursue?

A good place to start this analysis would be to determine what roster area they need to upgrade the most. ESPN Insider Bill Polian's recent article detailing needs for all 32 NFL teams says the Patriots' most glaring personnel gaps are at safety, wide receiver and cornerback.

Here are five big-name, big-impact players at those positions, along with one pass-rusher, for the Patriots to consider in free agency.

WR Mike Wallace


About a year and a half ago, there was a strong case to be made that Wallace was every bit as good of a wide receiver as Calvin Johnson. The subsequent combination of Johnson's improvement and Wallace's regression mean that is no longer the case, but the truth is that a lot of Wallace's decline is circumstantial in nature and a change in scenery could go a long way toward getting him back to a near-Megatron level. Particularly if he were to join Brady and the Patriots.