New England Patriots: 4 top free agents Pats should sign

It's all about the Patriots' offense in free agency, as it should be.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Free agency begins in early March, and it's right around the proverbial corner for the New England Patriots and all other NFL teams. This major offseason period precedes the all-important draft, and it affords teams with cap space an opportunity to augment their squads with proven NFL players. Surprise! The Patriots are one of those teams in 2024!

The team reportedly has about $87M available after the NFL's increased cap overall. De facto GM Eliot Wolf and Head Coach Jerod Mayo have already cut ties with two veterans in Lawrence Guy and Adrian Phillips, and more players can be released to add even more cap room. They should move aggressively soon to make that happen.

Assuming they move in the requisite direction, the Patriots could be looking at $100M to spend on top players in free agency this offseason. The operative word there is "top," and the team has to use the money wisely on the best players available. Forget spreading that cash thin. It's time to go with the best you can.

That's what we'll attempt to do here. We'll try to identify just four players to sign who will hopefully upgrade each position they'll fill. And, as in the suggestions in the draft that follows, the additions need to be on offense. And that's where they will be here.

The Patriots first sign the best wide receiver on the market

It's suggested here a quarterback has to be the top priority for the Patriots in the draft and not in free agency or by trade. That said, taking a quarterback with pick No. 3 in the draft means that the Patriots may have possibly passed on Marvin Harrison Jr. Their choice in free agency then had better be a great one. It will be here, the best available. The choice is to sign Michael Pittman Jr. of the Colts.

cbssports.com rates Pittman as the third best player in free agency, period. While they rate Mike Evans of Tampa one spot higher, Evans is 31 and Pittman is 26. Advantage Pittman. And the stats back that up. Pittman is 6'4" tall and 223 pounds, a huge target for the Patriots next quarterback
(can you say Jayden Daniels?).

In 2023, he caught a "pedestrian" 109 passes with 1152 yards but only four TDs. Slot him in with the prolific Daniels, who threw 40 TDs last season in the SEC, and you have a prescription for disaster for AFC East defenses. The suggestion is that a No. 1 wide receiver like Pittman should be the team's top priority after the quarterback, and they should sign him for whatever it takes and move on.

The Patriots next three top targets are all still on offense

It's assumed here (with caution, of course; it's the Patriots, after all) that an offensive tackle will be one of the team's top two picks. Even so, adding a young veteran tackle is a good idea, and Jonah Williams of Cincinnati may fit the bill.

cbssports.com says this about Williams,

"Williams flipped from the left side of the line to the right in 2023, and mostly held up fine. He was better earlier in his career than he has been over the past couple of years -- especially in pass protection -- but he's still young enough that you can justify investing in his future and hoping he recaptures some of what he did early on."

Williams's positional versatility could be a real asset, especially if Mike Onwenu leaves in free agency. And again, the 6'5" tall and 312-pound tackle is only 26 years old. If you're seeing a pattern here, it's spot on. This free agency is aiming to stock a team not only for the present but for the future, as well.

Next up, the Patriots add a running back. With Ezekiel Elliot heading to free agency, it's time to add an experienced young back to complement Rhamondre Stevenson, who's entering the final year of his contract. The choice is Tony Pollard from Dallas. The 6'0" tall, 209-pound Pollard is productive and, again, only 26 years old.

Pollard rushed for 1005 yards and 6 TDs in 2023 for the Cowboys. Here's' what profootballnetwork.com has to say about the free agent running back,

"Despite 2023 not looking the best for Pollard, the consensus is that he’s a largely underutilized asset at the RB position compared to his counterparts. He has only had over 200 carries in a season once, and that was in 2023. Before that, Pollard had only 510 touches in four seasons."

And the final target in free agency is a tight end, Pro Football Focus's fifth-rated TE in free agency, Adam Trautman of Denver. It's actually assumed here that the Pats will likely re-sign Hunter Henry. Whether they do or not is irrelevant; adding Trautman at a reasonable cost after breaking the bank for Pittman makes good sense.

Trautman had only 22 catches for 204 yards and three TDs in 2023. But he's only 27 and fits the profile as a younger veteran tight end with upside who'll enter at a lower price.

So there are four suggestions for free agent offensive additions to the Patriots 2024 squad. The biggest catch, without question, is Pittman, and that's where a boatload of the cash should be invested.

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