Last season the New England Patriots were one of the biggest spenders in the NFL when free agency began. Bill Belichick and company were aggressive in signing players to help them get back to the NFL Playoffs after missing them in 2020.
The $163 million they spent was not much less than what owner Robert Kraft spent on buying the franchise in 1994 for $172 million. However, the spending worked as they returned to the playoffs and at one time had the best record in the AFC.
The Patriots have made some moves, but it isn’t the splash they made last offseason. They still have some money to spend and need a few more players that they can acquire. Plus, they still have the NFL Draft, where they have the 21st pick and seven total picks.
Let’s see what they have done and could do as we get closer to the draft and get deeper into free agency.
Trades and Re-signings
This season, however, they have been relatively quiet in free agency. They lost star cornerback J.C. Jackson, who left to join the Los Angeles Chargers for a five-year $82,5 million contract. They traded offensive lineman Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth-round pick and released Kyle Van Noy.
In another move, they dealt Chase Winovich for linebacker Mack Wilson in another trade with the Cleveland Browns. They have re-signed James White, Matthew Slater, Ja’Whaun Bentley, and Devin McCourty. They also signed free agents Terrance Mitchell (CB) and Ty Montgomery (RB/WR).
While these do not look like big moves they are important. White, who is coming off a hip injury, and McCourty are both veteran leaders who define the Patriots Way.
Available Free Agents
The Patriots still need to find a true number one wide receiver and cornerback. Of course, the loss of Jackson will hurt, but the Patriots have been able to find quality defensive backs before. They could bring back former Patriots and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler (This article was written prior to Butler’s return to the Patriots on a one-year deal).
Stephon Gilmore is still available, but it is doubtful the Patriots would go after him or if he would entertain going back to Foxborough. They could decide to get one in the draft.
As for a wide receiver, the Patriots would never make a trade for one like Devante Adams or Amari Cooper They did, however, have the chance to sign a free agent like Allen Robinson, Christian Kirk, Russell Gage, or Cedrick Wilson. Yet they chose not to.
There are still a handful of free agents remaining including Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, Will Fuller, and A.J. Green. Any one of these receivers would help the Patriots and Mac Jones.
NFL Draft Possibilities
The wide receiver position in this draft is deep but lacks a Justin Jefferson or a Ja’Marr Chase. Of course, New England could go with a wideout with its first-round pick, but we all know their history when taking a wideout in the draft.
Some mock drafts have them taking Alabama wide receiver, Jameson Williams. He would be a great pickup and become Mac Jones’s number one receiver, but he did tear his ACL in the national championship game against Georgia. So even if the Patriots were to take him, he could be out for quite some time.
I look for them to address the defense after what the Buffalo Bills did to them in the AFC Wild Card game. Linebacker or cornerback makes the most sense.
The Patriots have not been very active in free agency but have been re-signing most of their own players. After last season’s spending spree, this should not be a surprise. However, they still need a few more players to catch up with their AFC counterparts, who have some big moves. We will see what they do in the coming weeks as they prepare for the draft.