The New England Patriots surprised everyone when free agency began, by spending abundantly and leaving the rest of the league shocked at their aggressiveness. After going 7-9, the team definitely feels like they have something to prove heading into this offseason. Having many holes to fill, the front office has done a great job to this point signing much needed talent to this roster.
To start off, the tight end position was thin last season. Ryan Izzo lead the group with only 199 receiving yards. These stats ranked towards the bottom of the league and are unacceptable for a team that is known for having strong tight end play. By signing the two best tight ends on the market, the Patriots’ went from having one of the worst tight end groups in the league to having one of the best. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are young, 25 and 26 respectively, and add significant talent to the offense. Both are signed to multi-year deals and will be with the team for the foreseeable future.
The Patriots also lacked talent at the wide receiver position last season. To improve this positional group, the team signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to multi-year deals. Both are solid young players, who have had up and down careers to this point. However, given the current lack of talent at the position, both signings add dependable targets to whoever starts at quarterback this year.
New England’s defensive line looked weak all throughout last season. They let teams run all over them and struggled to rush the quarterback. To fix this issue, the team signed edge rusher and 2x pro-bowler, Matt Judon, who is at his best setting the edge by putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. The signings of former Jets’ defensive lineman Henry Anderson, and former Dolphins’ nose tackle Davon Godchaux, will help the Patriots front seven defend the run. To further strengthen the defensive line, the Patriots also re-signed defensive end Deatrich Wise and defensive tackle Carl Davis, who have both been effective when healthy.
Another important signing, came in the form of versatile defensive back Jalen Mills. At just 26, Mills adds youth and versatility to a secondary that is aged and has a lot of uncertainty right now.
One of the weaknesses in this year’s team has to be at the linebacker position. Getting Dont’a Hightower back, who opted out before last season, will help greatly, but not as much as getting Kyle Van Noy back in a Patriots uniform. Van Noy spent last season in Miami, but the Patriots have brought the veteran back to New England on a 2-year deal.
This organization has definitely added talent to a team that struggled plenty last season. While there is still some uncertainty at the quarterback position, this team has greatly improved on both sides of the ball. This free agency has the Patriots looking ready to compete for the AFC East and playoff contention.
Photo Credit: Patrick Smith