Let's start with the obvious: Any move the New England Patriots make in free agency will not be able to measure up to what the club has already lost at the cornerback position. Darrelle Revis (New York Jets) and Brandon Browner (New Orleans Saints) will now be playing elsewhere because the Patriots didn't pick up their roster bonuses for 2015.
That has stoked passionate reaction in parts of New England as many are wondering how Bill Belichick and his coaching staff plan to fill the void.
Seven-year veteran Bradley Fletcher might be part of the plan. He might not.
In agreeing to a modest one-year deal Wednesday, the Patriots are going to take a closer look to see if they can revive his career, similar to the way they did last season with another former Eagles defensive back, Patrick Chung.
Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't; with rosters at 90 players, this is the time to explore such options to see if they stick.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Fletcher was considered a rising player by some before he bottomed out in Philadelphia last season, and as ESPN Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan pointed out, a big part of it seemed to be that he lost his confidence. Was it the way he was being utilized in the scheme? Have his physical skills declined? Were there other factors, such as safety play, that had something to do with it?
We'll soon find out, but I'm not surprised at the general negative reaction that has resulted with his imminent signing. It was the same thing we heard last year with Chung's return, and we saw how that turned out. Utilized a different way by the New England coaching staff, it maximized Chung's strengths and he was a key contributor in a Super Bowl season.
This isn't to say Fletcher, who by most accounts is a solid locker-room guy, will follow the same path.
But if we don't study history, we're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again.