Eric Decker, Michael Bennett Among Potential Future Patriots In Super Bowl

Patriots Broncos FootballThe New England Patriots should watch Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday with a scout’s eye.

Both the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are filled with talented players who will be free agents after Sunday night. The Broncos’ best free agents are wide receiver Eric Decker and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Seahawks’ best available players are defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback Walter Thurmond.

The Patriots have needs at wide receiver, defensive end and cornerback — especially if Aqib Talib leaves in free agency.

Decker has Patriots ties — the man who drafted him, Josh McDaniels, is New England’s offensive coordinator. Decker has had a lot of success with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but if Denver decides his asking price is too high, he could be reunited with McDaniels in New England.

The Patriots might have a decision to make in free agency between wide receivers Julian Edelman and Decker. Edelman will be cheaper, and he already has solid chemistry with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But Decker is a bigger player who can add a different element to the Patriots’ offense.

The Patriots could have interest in Seahawks receivers Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, as well, though the Seahawks will likely attempt to re-sign both players. The Patriots would have to exchange a draft pick for Baldwin, since he’s a restricted free agent.

Bennett would fit into a rotation with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at defensive end. Bennett also can slide over to defensive tackle to rush the quarterback on third down. If the Patriots can acquire another pass rusher, it will transform the defense.

Broncos defensive ends Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers don’t have the versatility of Bennett to move inside, but either player could rotate into the Patriots’ defensive line to give Ninkovich or Jones a rest. McDaniels drafted Ayers, who would come cheaper.

Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald has had success at getting after the quarterback from defensive tackle. If the Patriots don’t draft a pass-rushing defensive tackle, McDonald would be a good fit to mix in with Vince Wilfork, Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones. McDonald is undersized at 6-foot-2, 283 pounds, and he mostly played in the Seahawks’ nickel defense.

Both the Broncos and Seahawks are full of quality cornerback free agents. If the Patriots can’t re-sign Talib, Rodgers-Cromartie or Thurmond would look good in a Patriots uniform. Rodgers-Cromartie is built from the same mold as Talib, while Thurmond has spent most of his time with the Seahawks as a slot cornerback, though he’s been adept at playing outside, too.

Restricted free agents Chris Harris and Brandon Browner could come at a discount. Harris is coming off a torn ACL in the playoffs, while Browner is facing a season-long suspension.

Check out a list of both teams’ 2014 free agents below.

DENVER BRONCOS

Knowshon Moreno, RB
Andre Caldwell, WR
Eric Decker, WR
Winston Justice, OL
Zane Beadles, OL
Dan Koppen, OL
Steve Vallos, OL
Robert Ayers, DE
Jeremy Mincey, DE
Shaun Phillips, DE
Stewart Bradley, LB
Paris Lenon, LB
Wesley Woodyard, LB
Quentin Jammer, CB
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB
Mike Adams, S
Michael Huff, S
Mitch Unrein, DE (RFA)
Tony Carter, CB (RFA)
Chris Harris, CB (RFA)

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Tarvaris Jackson, QB
Michael Robinson, FB
Arceto Clark, WR
Golden Tate, WR
Bryan Walters, WR
Kellen Davis, TE
Anthony McCoy, TE
Breno Giacomini, OL
Paul McQuistan, OL
Jason Spitz, OL
Michael Bennett, DE
Chris Baker, DT
Tony McDaniel, DT
Clinton McDonald, DT
O’Brien Schofield, LB
Walter Thurmond, CB
Chris Maragos, S
Steven Hauschka, K
Doug Baldwin, WR (RFA)
Lemuel Jeanpierre, OL (RFA)
Brandon Browner, CB (RFA)
Jeron Johnson, S (RFA)

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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