Looking back and grading Patriots’ 2021 free agency

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Dec 6, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) reaches for the ball for a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots uncharacteristically delved long and deep into free agency in the 2021 offseason and spent a boatload of owner Robert Kraft’s money. So, just how well did they do with all that cash? The relevance of that question persists because, in a couple of days, the team will be drafting, and that draft’s focus will depend somewhat on how last season’s free agency went.

That heavy free agency cost owner Robert Kraft about $155M in guaranteed money in an uncharacteristic approach for the Patriots. Mr. Kraft recently expressed dismay at not getting a playoff win in three years and has also battered the personnel operation for blowing four consecutive drafts before the unusually good 2021 edition.

Since Mr. Kraft’s exhortations should always be listened to by the football operatives, that group will hopefully again be on their toes this offseason. Unfortunately, for Patriots fans, they were low-key in free agency this offseason, even though they were humiliated in two of three games and blew the AFC East Division title to the Buffalo Bills. But soon … there will be that draft.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the offensive and defensive free agents who cost a bundle of cash and grade just how they performed. Note of caution: no fluff should be expected here. Just plain and simple analysis.

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