The Patriots have 17 unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, combine that with mutterings about Belichick’s days being numbered and they’re staring down the barrel of a total rebuild. Spotrac projects they’ll have more than $76 million under the salary cap though, so there could be a lot of new faces arriving in Foxborough. But who should they target in free agency?
Offensive linemen aren’t glamourous, but they are the difference between a successful offense and what the Patriots are rolling out this season.
The Patriots’ biggest issue on the offensive line this season appears to be identifying assignments and communicating them to each other. The interior of the offensive line has been very porous while the tackle positions have performed better. So why not sign a Pro Bowl center to help identify who needs to block who and improve communication?
Current Cowboy Tyler Biadasz doesn’t just have a really cool surname he also made the Pro Bowl in 2022. As a former defensive tackle in high school, he understands what the opposition is trying to do as well as they do. He’ll be 26 when the free-agency period rolls around too. He could potentially be a Patriot for a long time.
Pass rush has also been an issue for the Patriots without Matt Judon. Judon only started two games before his season-ending injury, but his 4 sacks still lead the entire team.
Burns has played both as an outside linebacker and at defensive end during his time in Carolina. So, he’ll fit into any defense the Patriots conjure up. He’s also far more durable than most pass rushers. Both Bosa brothers and both Watt brothers (before JJ retired) missed a lot of games through injury. Burns has only missed three games since he became a starter in 2019. In the 59 games he’s started he has recorded 43 sacks (Judon has 66.5 sacks in 82 starts). Burns also has the 8th fastest sack of the 2023 season according to NextGen stats. So, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Speaking of not slowing down Snead ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and he’ll only be 27 at the start of the 2024 season. That athleticism makes him a turnover machine. Snead has made nine interceptions, forced four fumbles, and recovered three fumbles during his three-and-a-half seasons in Kansas City. He’s also recorded 8.5 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, and 15 QB hits. He’d be a perfect addition to a defensive backfield including Jabril Peppers and Christian Gonzalez.
Michael Pittman Jr.
Who knows who will be throwing the passes in New England next season? But one thing is for sure somebody will have to catch them. The Patriots have three wide receivers (and Matt Slater, but he’s definitely a special teams maven) out of contract at the end of the season. And really only Kendrick Bourne deserves a new deal (and that’s dependent on him recovering from ACL surgery).
Everyone knows who Pittman Jr. Is (if you’re old enough you even know who his dad is). The USC product has stood out despite playing for the tumultuous Colts. He would provide the Patriots receiving corps with a serious physical presence. He stands 6”4’ and weighs in at 223lbs so he’s almost as big as Hunter Henry! Pittman Jr. Is the best receiving option available in free agency, throughout his career he’s caught 67.8% of his targets! And that’s despite the Colts having 9 different quarterbacks in the last three and a half seasons! Tee Higgins the other top receiver available in free agency only catches 63.6%
The Patriots pass catchers have been so inconsistent this season that just one new addition won’t be enough. Bourne has been the most consistent receiver but even he has only caught 67.3% of his targets. They could even spend a high round draft pick on a rookie, but they’d probably still need another free agent.
What does every physical receiver need? The perfect foil and “Hollywood” Brown would be the perfect foil for the physical Pittman. Brown ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at his college pro day. And while none of us are young as we were back in 2019 that’s so fast that he could still realistically argue he’s still one of the fastest players in the league. If there is one area where Pittman hasn’t dominated it is catching touchdown passes. He’s only managed to catch 14 touchdowns in his 51-game career. Brown hasn’t had that problem, 8.6% of the 323 passes he has caught in the NFL have resulted in scores. they’d be quite some tandem.