What Alfonzo Dennard’s guilty verdict means for the Patriots
It was a sad morning for Patriots fans as they learned that Alfonzo Dennard, the only cornerback on the roster who could actually play a lick of defense, was found guilty of felony assault charges. The charges stem from an April 21st, 2012 encounter last year in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was also the reason why Dennard, originally projected as a Day 2 talent in the draft, lasted until Day 3 and the seventh round of the draft.
Obviously, the charges he has been found guilty of are extremely serious but we aren’t here to talk about the past. Instead, it is our job to look ahead at the Patriots future outlook considering the situation that has now arisen.
It isn’t good.
As of Wednesday when the news is breaking, the New England Patriots have only one cornerback on the roster. Considering that cornerback is the often injured Ras-I Dowling, the Patriots essentially have zero cornerbacks on the roster. Sure, Devin McCourty was an all-pro at cornerback in his rookie season, but he has essentially become a safety now and is even better fit to play the position due to his great ball-skills and physicality.
The two free-agents that the New England Patriots have on their roster is Aqib Talib and Kyle “I’ve said many mean things about you over the years” Arrington. Talib is the most important of the two considering that his presence changed the Patriots defense and losing him in the AFC Championship Game is a big reason why they were unable to slow down Baltimore. Talib is also most expensive. There is talk that this news might force the Patriots to place the franchise-tag on Aqib Talib, but it is worth upwards of $10million dollars and numerous Patriots insiders think that it would be an “uncharacteristic panic move”. I tend to agree with this.
This might cause the Patriots to peruse Ed Reed hard and move McCourty back to cornerback, but I have never been a fan of this move. Reed isn’t as good as he once was, simply the “sexy” name of the free-agent class whose best years are behind him. Sure, Belichick loves him and his mannerisms lead him to being a “Patriot” sort of player, but I fail to see it as a move that makes the Patriots better. I’d rather see them spend the big money on Talib and draft someone else than chase Reed.
The aftershock effect of all this could be that the Patriots will lack the funds to lock up their other big free-agents, mainly Wes Welker and Sebastian Vollmer. Alfonzo Dennard’s legal situation has put the Patriots into a pickle that will be difficult to wiggle their way out of. For the first time in the Belichick era, a Patriots “low risk, high-reward” character-risk pick might cost the Patriots more than they thought.