PFF awards Patriots surprising grade for free agency moves so far

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Chris Unger/GettyImages

After back-to-back disappointing seasons, everything seemed to align this offseason for the Patriots to get back on track and truly revitalize their team for the 2024 season. The significant changes were made almost immediately, with the announcement of Bill Belichick's departure and Jerod Mayo succeeding him.

Although the task ahead seemed daunting for a first-time head coach, New England was armed with nearly $100 million in cap space and a top-3 draft pick for the first time in 30 years, seemingly making Mayo's job much easier.

It was expected that things would kick into high gear as soon as free agency began, especially since Mayo had already filled out his new staff and Eliot Wolf was named the de facto general manager.

There was a lot of cash to spend and plenty of top-name players looking for new teams, which excited fans who wanted that feeling to extend to the regular season again, many for the first time since Tom Brady was still on the team.

But that's not how the first wave of free agency went.

PFF awards Patriots surprising grade for free agency moves so far

There was nothing different about it this year and very much followed the historical Belichick script; missing out or not even pursuing the most desirable players and signing decent ones instead to short term contracts.

Wolf and Co. did manage to re-sign the team's best pending free agents, which is certainly a plus and didn't overspend in doing so. However, their lack of interest in signing players from other teams is apparent and continues disappointing those hoping for a drastic change in philosophy under the new regime.

Regardless, PFF has revealed their grade for the Patriots' movements in the first wave of free agency, and it's honestly surprising. Despite the overall adverse reaction from the fans, the website awards them with a B+, which is among the best grades given of all the 32 teams.

They shared a lengthy explanation for their high praise, citing the re-signings of critical players like Mike Onwenu and Hunter Henry as the primary basis for the grade.

But they also emphasized their need to spend more of the remaining cash pile to put a better team around the presumed rookie quarterback they'll be taking in this year's draft.

"The Patriots have constantly moved Onwenu around the offensive line, appeared to have drafted a few potential replacements in recent years and waited until the guard market exploded over the past week before seemingly giving in on all of Onwenu’s wishes. Onwenu gets nearly $20 million annually but also gives up only three years of his services. The Michigan graduate negotiated his own deal after firing his agents a week before free agency, and he did remarkably well for himself in the end.

The Patriots have a ton of cash to burn and need a better situation around their next franchise quarterback, and Henry has been characterized as a leader on this offense. That said, this is a strong deal for a tight end who will turn 30 years old in 2024.

Bourne is recovering from a torn ACL and is reportedly on track to suit up in Week 1. He was in the midst of his best season when he went down. New England at least has a few reliable pass catchers in the fold, but they still need to go big-game hunting."

It would be interesting to see their analysis of who the Patriots chose to sign from other teams, as that seems to be among the biggest issues fans have had so far.

The re-signings were critical, but with so much cash to spend and a desperate need to make the team better than they have, especially on offense, the seeming lack of interest in doing so is problematic.

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