Potential Patriots free-agent targets with connections to Bill Belichick

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Stephon Gilmore, Patriots

Stephon Gilmore #9 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

At this very moment, the New England Patriots‘ financial flexibility (just over $7 million) isn’t enough to make the necessary upgrades to improve the roster, especially with how much talent they’re losing. There are some solutions, however.

Roster cuts and trades could free up substantial space, allowing Bill Belichick to chase a few potential desired free agent targets … but don’t expect a spending spree anywhere close to last year. OK, maybe one big signing.

As for other additions, don’t you just think Belichick will turn around and do the classic “bring back former Patriots” strategy to help keep the system in check? He even mixed that in last year by reuniting with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Trent Brown.

Believe it or not, there are a TON of players who are about to hit the open market and have a previous connection to Belichick. In fact, there are even more beyond this list we’ve compiled, but we decided to go with more prominent names as well as those who could actually fill a roster need.

So who might reunite with the Patriots this offseason? Likely or unlikely? We’ve got that covered, too.

NFL free agents who could join Patriots based on connection with Bill Belichick.

Almost Certainly Not Happening: Stephon Gilmore, Nate Solder, Cam Newton, Mohamed Sanu

Easy enough to get this one out of the way before we dive into more plausible possibilities. In an alternate universe, we could see the Patriots reuniting and making good with Gilmore to absorb JC Jackson’s likely departure. Also, maybe Cam Newton as Mac Jones’ backup? His stint in Carolina further proved he’s simply not a starter anymore. Neither scenario would happen, but they’re worth loosely mentioning.

New England has no reason to bring back Solder or Sanu, both of whom would be by far the worst players at their positions if they joined the team tomorrow. Solder left the Patriots in free agency years ago to endure an embarrassing tenure with the New York Giants where he was found not blocking at all on most occasions, while Sanu’s brief and awful stint in New England (after being acquired for a second-round pick!) resulted in his release before the start of the 2020 season.

Gilmore was traded because of an injury contract dispute. They willingly let Solder leave and replaced him with better players. They cut Newton and Sanu. Safe to say these guys will be elsewhere to start 2022.

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