5 great free agents Patriots could've signed but didn't

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Because the 2024 offseason was going to be significantly different than in years past, primarily due to Bill Belichick's absence, there was an expectation that free agency would be unlike any fans had seen for a long time.

With nearly $100 million available in cap space and plenty of roster holes needing to be filled, the belief was that the new regime would finally spend a lot of cash on top-of-the-notch players. Jerod Mayo seemed to emphasize that as soon as he was named the new head coach, stating he was looking forward to "burning some cash."

It seems as though plans changed, as Mayo attempted to retract those remarks, and the Patriots have had a slow and unexciting start to free agency.

Although they managed to re-sign, most of their vital in-house players were expected to hit the market, and they have yet to make a big splash for players who could greatly improve the team. To make matters worse, they have reportedly been in on many of them but were unwilling to pay what they were looking for in their new team.

That's led them to a typical point after the first wave of free agency where fans are scratching their heads after seeing the list of missed opportunities pile up. And as they start the second wave this week, there are at least five players they could have signed but failed to do so.

Let's hope more names aren't eventually added to the list.

5 great free agents Patriots could've signed but didn't

WR Calvin Ridley

The most obvious name to be on this list is undoubtedly Calvin Ridley. He was considered the most desirable free-agent receiver available this year, and the Patriots made it a point to pursue him heavily once the legal tampering period began.

They were reportedly one of two teams Ridley was considering between before signing elsewhere, which seemed like a good sign for a while. Once the new league year kicked off, the assumption was he had only held off re-signing with the Jaguars to avoid the team having to send a second-round pick to the Falcons due to the trade.

But that didn't happen, either.

About two hours later, it was made official that the Patriots had missed out on locking down their most needed-target. Ridley was signing with the Titans, which was bad enough. However, the reported difference in offers between Tennessee and New England stung more about the decision.

He accepted the Titans' offer, which ensured he would make $23 million a year. The Patriots' contract offer was just shy of that, giving him $22 million annually instead. That's what made the entire situation even worse. It feels like they missed out on a potentially game-changing player due to a measly difference in salary.