In the early hours of free agency, the Patriots haven’t made any blockbuster moves. In fact, other than the resigning of TE Michael Hoomanawanui to a 2 year contract, they haven’t made any signficant ones at all. As anyone who follows the Patriots knows, Bill Belichick is not going to jump in early, nor overpay for a flashy free agent. He much prefers to build through the draft with few big name signings.
However there is definitely one area this year with an abundance of quality free agents which could fill a need for New England. As of 8:00 PM Tuesday, there are still quite a few Defensive ends available. There are likely enough personnel available for the Patriots to wait out the highest priced signings, then work a more reasonable deal with one of the remaining pass rushers. Despite the emergence of Chandler Jones, Defensive end has been an area of need since Richard Seymour was shipped to the Raiders.
Michael Bennett has be re-signed by Seattle, and Greg Hardy has been slapped with the franchise tag and will be remaining with the Panthers.
However, Jared Allen (Vikings) is still available, as is Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) and Mike Neal from Green bay.
Even more interesting is the unexpected fee agents. Demarcus Ware has been cut from the Cowboys, and Julius Peppers from the Bears.
Both might be past their primes, but would be capable of being situational pass rushers, providing some much needed extra punch to a Patriots pass rush that has been improving, but still could use some shoring up.
While it is possible that both might still expect a paycheck higher than Belichcik would be likely to agree to, given the abundance of DE’s on the market, their expectations may go unmet, allowing for a more reasonable contract. The Patriots had showed interest in Peppers once before, although he ended up with the Bears.
While predicting what the Patriots might do in free agency is always a chancy endeavor, one can always hope that they will take advantage of the current crop of free agent DE’s to address this perennial need.