The New England Patriots are projected to have a ton of cap space and perhaps a ton of needs next offseason. Let's look at a few way too early free agency targets for 2024. The Patriots are currently projected to have a metric ton of cap space.
And depending on how their 2023 season goes, they may be in a position to spend like crazy. Or, they may be in a position to not spend that much at all and perhaps embrace a rebuild. Whatever the case may be, the team will have some obvious needs come next offseason, and I don't really think there's a clear path in 2023 to see those needs filled.
2024 Free Agency: Way too early targets for the Patriots
1. Mekhi Becton, T
Mekhi Becton was taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has played in just 15 games over three years for the New York Jets, and there isn't a guarantee that he even begins the year as one of the tackle starters in New York.
Perhaps he'll hit free agency in 2024. If so, he could be a low-risk, high-reward type of signing for the Patriots, who are slated to have both Trent Brown and Riley Reiff hit free agency at this moment. The injuries are a concern for Becton, but a change of scenery might help.
2. DJ Chark, WR
Right now, the wide receiver free agency market actually looks quite good. They'll surely be some extensions signed to keep some of these projected free agents with their current teams, but if DJ Chark hits free agency in 2024, he'll be entering his age-28 season and could find a home with the Patriots.
Chark is a former Pro Bowl WR who had a 1,000 yard season back in 2019 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm sure at some point I did suggest the Patriots signing him, but he landed with the Carolina Panthers for 2023.
Chark is 6'4" and has 4.3 speed. He's a freak of nature and could end up fitting in nicely with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, and perhaps even DeAndre Hopkins.
3. Kirk Cousins, QB
This could be an interesting move for the Patriots. If Mac Jones bottoms out in 2023 but it's clear that the Patriots otherwise have a competitive team, why not try to run it back with that same core in 2024 but with a short-term solution at QB?
Or, if the entire team bottoms out in 2023, I could still see an argument for signing Cousins, who may then be able to serve as a one-year bridge QB if the Pats would then target a QB in the 2024 NFL Draft. Cousins is efficient if nothing else and has made four Pro Bowls in his career.
4. Dalton Schultz, TE
Both Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry will be free agents at the end of the year, and I don't think we should rule out either being re-signed, as both could have very efficient seasons in the Patriots' offense this year.
However, they could opt for someone a bit younger and better in Dalton Schultz if he ends up hitting the market in 2024. Schultz has been a very consistent receiving tight end. Over the last three years, he's had 615, 808, and 577 yards in those seasons to go with 17 total touchdown grabs.
If you take the last three years and average them over a 17-game season, you'd get 708 yards and six touchdowns, which is lovely production from the TE spot.
This could end up being a very good free agency haul in 2024 if each of these players end up hitting the market.