The New England Patriots are 9-4 and own the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If the season ended today, Bill Belichick’s group would clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It’s incredible to think how far the Patriots have come in a year. At this point last campaign, they were 6-6 with an outside shot of making the playoffs. Alas, they were outscored by 46 points over their final four games and finished 7-9, marking the franchise’s first losing season since 2000.
That prompted Bill Belichick to go on the biggest spending spree of his reign as Patriots de facto general manager. This strategy typically blows up in teams’ faces, but leave it to Belichick to defy the odds and hit a home run on nearly every one of his signings.
For every home run, though, there are at least two or three busts, so let’s run through some free agents the Patriots were lucky to avoid.
3 free agents Patriots were lucky to not sign
3. Bud Dupree
You kind of got the feeling the Patriots meant business when they signed Matt Judon to a $54 million contract at the start of free agency. In doing so, New England bypassed signing a plethora of other pass rushers, including Trey Hendrickson (Bengals), Carl Lawson (Jets), Bud Dupree (Titans), Jadeveon Clowney (Browns), and Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders).
While Judon has out-performed all of those studs, we can’t help but compare him to Dupree, whom a lot of Pats fans wanted in Foxborough.
Coming off a torn ACL sustained late last season, the Titans clearly signed Dupree with an eye on the future, hoping he’d take off in 2022 after spending 2021 getting back to full speed following the injury.
Even with that caveat, Dupree’s five-year, $82.5 million contract looks like an unnecessary albatross. That same knee has caused him to miss three games this season and he was just placed on injured reserve with an abdominal injury. All in all, Dupree has appeared in seven games and has just seven tackles, one sack, six QB hits, and one forced fumble to show for it.
If nothing else, this should make Pats fans even more appreciative of Judon.