Patriots’ 2024 free agents: re-sign or goodbye

Guard/tackle Mike Onwenu (71) should be a priority for the New England Patriots to re-sign.
Guard/tackle Mike Onwenu (71) should be a priority for the New England Patriots to re-sign. / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Defense and Special Teams

CB Alex Austin – Plucked off the Houston Texans trash heap, Austin was added to a depleted secondary and quickly began making plays. The highlight was peeling off his assignment to intercept a pass against the Buffalo Bills, the team that drafted Austin in the seventh round. The Patriots need a starter opposite Christian Gonzalez. Austin deserves a chance to compete for that spot. Re-sign

S Joshuah Bledsoe – The Patriots need a free safety, which Bledsoe plays. But he’s played in just three games in three years. He hasn’t proven to be an option to fill the void so far, so it’s hard to believe Bledsoe could be the solution in ‘24. Good-bye

CB Breon Borders – The first to arrive between Alex Austin and Marco Wilson, Borders was emergency depth but never played. Maybe Borders has something to offer, but Austin and Wilson create a logjam, with Borders the odd man out. Good-bye

DB Myles Bryant – Bryant is usually in the right place at the right time. The problem is, even when he is, it doesn’t matter because he’s at a physical disadvantage. When the corners are healthy, the position is deep so that Bryant can play more safety. But a 5-9 safety can only be so effective. Good-bye

S Cody Davis – No team invested as much in special teams as the Patriots. Will that still be the case without Bill Belichick as head coach? With 12 seasons under his belt, it might be time for the Patriots to find a younger option. Good-bye

S Kyle Dugger – Just because Patriots Nation has become enamored with Jabrill Peppers doesn’t mean the Patriots should let Dugger walk. Dugger was still third on the team in tackles, had two picks, and forced a fumble. Yes, New England needs a free safety. But why weaken a position of strength if the Patriots don’t have to? Re-sign

LB Christian Elliss – Next time, Philadelphia Eagles, don’t waive a player you want to keep. Patriots picked up Elliss like a winning scratch ticket on the street. Elliss’ addition paid off, maybe to the point the Patriots could release Chris Board in favor of Elliss. Re-sign

DE Anfernee Jennings – Jennings doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but few in the league defend the run as well as he can. You can’t ask for more out of a two-down player. It might cost a little extra to keep Jennings, but he’s worth it. Re-sign

LB Terez Hall – Hall hasn’t played a single down for the Patriots since 2020. Besides being a camp body or for the scout team, what does Davis have to offer the Patriots? Good-bye

DB Jalen Mills – There is some greatness in the Patriots’ safety room, but only Mills is a free safety. He didn’t play much, but Mills fills a position. New England can fill his shoes with a younger, cheaper option. Good-bye

WR Matthew Slater – Slater was saluted in the season finale with specialized T-shirts, video tributes, and standing ovations. But it’s been 42 days since the season ended, and Slater has yet to announce whether he’s retiring or returning. All signs point to hanging up the cleats, so until Slater says otherwise, expect Slater to leave on his terms, with the Hall of Fame to look forward to. Good-bye

LB Josh Uche – When allowed to pin his ears back and hunt, Uche is an explosive pass rusher. But he’s not worth the big bucks because he can’t stay on the field. Uche may want an opportunity to start, which he may not get here. Uche hasn’t stayed healthy enough to warrant a significant investment. Good-bye

CB Marco Wilson – A 2021 Arizona Cardinals fourth round pick, the Patriots hope to tap into Wilson’s potential. He looked promising in limited play. After the secondary suffered through injuries, keeping as much good depth as possible is a good idea. Re-sign

LB Mack Wilson Sr. – Wilson Sr. might be the next Mike Vrabel or Rob Nicovich, but it wasn’t immediate. After struggling as an LB, New England tried Wilson Sr. as a pass rusher, and he looked very good. That would be useful after the defense finished with just 36 sacks last season. Re-sign

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