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The Patriots pulled off the NFL equivalent of signing Kevin Durant ... twice

Do you really think the Patriots would've won the Super Bowl for the 2014 season without signing this free agent that spring?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest sports news of the Fourth of July weekend came from the NBA when Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors. It prompted reaction from NFL players and some conversations about guaranteed contracts and why NBA players make so much more than their pro football counterparts.

It also sparked a discussion about an NFL equivalent deal, where one of the top players in the game landed with an already-loaded roster coming off a conference championship and a league title the year before that.

To play the comparison game here, you have to suspend the apples-to-oranges nature of the two sports and leagues. NFL players at that level rarely switch teams, especially at difference-making positions like quarterback, No. 1 wide receiver and pass rusher.

Peyton Manning to the Broncos in 2012? The Broncos weren't much the year before. Joe Montana to the Chiefs in 1993? Better. The Chiefs won 10 games the year before, bumped that up to 11 with Montana and then lost to the Bills in the AFC Championship, which was kind of Marty Schottenheimer's signature.

The best, most recent comparison might be a shutdown corner, Darrelle Revis. He left a disastrous situation in Tampa Bay and signed with New England in 2014. The Patriots were already loaded, like they have been for 15 seasons now, coming off a loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship the year before.

New England won the Super Bowl that year. Revis' approximate value of 14 that season (AV is Pro Football Reference's stat that attempts to put a player's individual contribution into a single number) was bested only by Tom Brady, who had an AV of 16, on the championship roster.

The 2007 Patriots did something similar, and even more remarkable in football terms, when they acquired Randy Moss and Wes Welker. What they were able to accomplish on the field that season was remarkable. But it will ultimately go down as a disappointment because of that whole 18-1 thing, a sting Golden State can sympathize with after losing to the Cavs in this year's championship.

The big takeaway here, as I see it, isn't finding an equivalent of Durant signing with the Warriors, it's that the Warriors are the Patriots of the NBA.

We covered a few more NFL examples (Charles Haley, Terrell Owens, Deion Sanders, etc.) in the video below.

Le'Veon Bell wants $15 million per year. We know because he said it in a rap song. He's got a better chance of having a gold record. Adrian Peterson is the highest paid running back, from an average annual value standpoint, at $14 million per year. The next-highest paid is LeSean McCoy at $8.01 million per year.

Just how valuable is Bell? Using approximate value, Bell is one of three running backs since 2011 with an AV of 17 or more, which he had for his 2014 season. DeMarco Murray had an AV of 19 that year, and Peterson had an AV of 19 in 2012, the year he ran for 2,097 yards.

Injuries and a suspension kept Bell off the field for all but six games last season. He'll need an incredible effort in 2016 to justify that lyric.

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