The New England Patriots entered free agency with a talented roster, but one that paled in comparison to the AFC’s elite.
After the first couple days of proceedings, the Patriots fell further down the pecking order with conference rivals like the Bills, Chargers, Broncos, Browns and Ravens making multiple statement additions.
The Patriots, meanwhile, have arguably gotten worse. After all, they’ve now lost JC Jackson, Shaq Mason, Ted Karras and Kyle Van Noy – all starters from a season ago – with potentially more to come in the future.
While there’s something to be said for retaining culture pillars like Devin McCourty and James White, it goes without saying fans expected the front office to be more aggressive in terms of filling roster holes.
Let’s just say if there were this many swings and misses on a Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, the Red Sox faithful wouldn’t hesitate in showering Alex Cora’s squad with boos.
With that in mind, let’s highlight the Patriots’ biggest whiffs of free agency thus far.
3 biggest Patriots whiffs of NFL free agency so far
3. Missing out on Jordan Hicks
This one comes with a caveat, as the Patriots aren’t quite finished revamping their linebacker corps. Re-signing Ja’Whaun Bentley, the team’s leading tackler from 2021, is a good start, but Dont’a Hightower (free agent) and Kyle Van Noy (released) have yet to be replaced.
When it comes to replacing Hightower, Jordan Hicks, who was surprisingly released by Arizona before free agency and has since signed a modest contract with the Vikings, felt like a perfect fit.
While Hicks’ stats speak for themselves – 383 tackles while playing 96.3 percent of the snaps in three seasons with the Cardinals – his character and leadership make him one of the most respected players in the NFL.
Last offseason, Hicks demanded a trade after he was told he lost his starting job to rookie first-rounder Zaven Collins. Ultimately, the veteran LB put his head down, won his job back and went on to start all 17 games while notching a career-high with four sacks.
As someone who can get after the quarterback and hold his own in both coverage and against the run, Hicks would’ve been a fantastic get for the Patriots. Alas, he signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Minnesota that includes just $5.95 million in guaranteed money.
You mean to tell us the Patriots couldn’t have afforded him?