Patriots 2021 defensive free agents and grade
Starting with three good additions and moving on from there, Matt Judon was a favorite in this space. Judon played like a budding All-Pro for more than half the season before tailing off and disappearing in crunch time. He wound up with 12.5 sacks, and that alone makes the signing a good one. Yet, when your best defensive player goes missing when everything’s on the line, it’s a lousy optic.
Defensive line signings included: re-signing Dietrich Wise Jr. and Lawrence Guy, two just OK players; Davon Godchaux, the marquee signing; Montravius Adams; Henry Anderson; and Carl Davis. If that list doesn’t excite readers, it’s because nothing too much came from this group on the field.
The best of the lot was Godchaux, and he was hardly a difference-maker with 65 tackles and a sack. Wise had 41 tackles and three sacks and Guy had 1.5 sacks and 60 tackles. The rest basically didn’t do much of anything noteworthy at all. All the money spent on this multitude of players was not money well spent. Signing one or two better players was the way to go. The Patriots went for quantity over quality, and they failed miserably in so doing.
At linebacker, the Patriots did re-sign Kyle Van Noy, who had a decent season and then was summarily released in another head-scratching move similar to Karras’ departure. Also added were linebackers Raekwon McMillan, who got injured, and LaRoy Reynolds. Neither played.
In the defensive backfield, one addition was safety Jalen Mills, who played in and started 16 games. He was solid but unspectacular. They also signed cornerback Justin Bethel and safety Cody Davis as what equated to special teamers.
In sum, Bob Kraft’s money spent on defense was largely wasted. It was a terrible job personified by adding a multitude of mediocre players rather than several difference-makers. The grade on defense has to be a D+/C-, and it only ranks that high because of Judon, Mills, and Van Noy.
So, an objective evaluation of the big splash the New England Patriots made in free agency in the 2021 offseason comes up seriously wanting. Lots of players were added or retained, but far too few made any real difference. The overall grade thus far for the 2021 free agency period is a meager C/C-.
The Patriots’ personnel operation largely wasted owner Bob Kraft’s 2021 free agency funds. They signed far too few difference-making players and far too many mediocre ones, many of whom could have been replaced off the waiver wire for far less cash.
How do you feel the team did in free agency in 2021? We’d like to hear your views.