New England Patriots Free Agency: What’s Next?
By Hal Bent
EDGE James Harrison, EDGE Alex Okafor, EDGE Pernell McPhee and EDGE Junior Galette
New England desperately needs a veteran edge rusher to add to their young group of Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr., and Eric Lee. New England will get back Dont’a Hightower and he can help out the pass rush from the edge as well. Last year’s third-round draft pick Derek Rivers should be healthy and ready to contribute as well in 2018.
Clayborn is in line to visit Foxboro in order to meet with the Patriots. He garnered most attention for his six sack game but he is a solid edge rusher. He had 54 pressures for Atlanta last edge season and his ProFootballFocus.com pass rush grade was 87.2 in 2017, good for 14th among rushers. He should be a top target for the Patriots as a veteran able to set the edge and pass rush is a must for the front seven.
James Harrison was a solid performer in the NFL Playoffs last season after joining the team at the end of the season. While Harrison should not be expected to play a majority of snaps for the Patriots, he is an inexpensive depth option who can provide leadership in the locker room. Harrison–at 39-years old–has the option to be picky about his destination in 2018.
Okafor was a fourth-round draft pick in 2013 by Arizona and after a breakout season in 2014 seemingly regressed over 2015 and 2016. He ended up in New Orleans last season where he revitalized his value providing edge pressure before a torn Achilles ended his season after ten games. At 27 years-old he is generating interest and may be priced out of the Patriots’ salary range.
Galette generated double-digit sacks for New Orleans in 2013 and 2014. Last season he was buried behind Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith in Washington. After missing two consecutive seasons with an Achilles injury, he will be 30-years old next season but did show burst getting after the quarterback with Washington last season.