As the NFL Free Agent Period is about to commence, the New England Patriots have a lot of work to do to maintain their dominance in the division, conference, and league. Overall, the biggest signings the Patriots can do involve players that already were on the roster last season. If the Patriots can retain Butler and Hightower and a combination of Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan (if not both of them), this has been a successful offseason.
But to make this post interesting, I have to find some other players that would fit the Patriots well. I can’t really see Butler and Hightower departing from New England, so I’m going to work with the assumption that they are re-signed in this scenario. Here’s some free agents worth signing for the Patriots.
DE Dwight Freeney (Falcons) – One thing we could use a helping hand with is the pass rush. The pass rush hasn’t been necessarily bad, but guys like Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long are free agents and will likely be playing for a new team next season. You have to imagine DE Trey Flowers is ready to be an ever-down pass rusher on one side; comprising the other side of a couple guys is probably the best move. Working with the assumption that veteran Rob Ninkovich and third-year Geneo Grissom can fill the other side, getting a fresh face in there isn’t a bad idea. Freeney came off a good season with the Falcons, and he’s going to want to win a SuperBowl as soon as possible since his career is on the back-9. Look, if you’re not going to commit to the runner-up, it probably means you want to go to the winner. I think it’s a solid move.
WR Brandon Marshall (Jets) – What seems like a fairly unrealistic and unnecessary move is actually a likely move. Marshall is all about winning, but he’s never won. He requested to be let go from the Jets just a week back, he’s looking to play for a winner. Maybe he’s picking up advice from ex-teammate Martellus Bennett. Further, it seems both Marshall and the Patriots are showing mutual interest. As long as the money is right, this move seems like a no-brainer.
CB Captain Munnerlyn (Vikings) – If we happen to lose Logan Ryan in free agency (which seems likely), then finding someone who can play the nickel spot exceptionally seems like a great idea. Captain Munnerlyn is coming off a down year, so his stock is likely low, and I’m sure he’d like to play for a championship squad. Further, it might be a good idea to bring in veteran presence with a young cornerback crew.
TE Luke Willson (Seahawks) – This one is interesting. Willson lost his starting spot when Jimmy Graham came to Seattle, and he probably would like to be a starter somewhere else (and likely could). Still, New England learned a couple things from last year: it’s nice to have the two-TE set, and it’s REALLY nice to have a safe option when Rob Gronkowski goes down from injury. The inevitable Gronk going down usually kills our chances each year, but when Marty Bennett was in town there was no issue. Getting a guy who can play as a starter AND serve as a second option is crucial here. Willson can catch the ball, but I’m unsure of his skills as a blocking tight-end. As we know, Seattle is atrocious at protecting the quarterback. I could be wrongly accusing him, maybe he’s a good blocker when he’s on a team that utilizes their offensive line and practices the importance of blocking. Still, perhaps obtaining Willson and getting a strong blocking tight-end and rotating them would be nice, but that’s also predictable.
Free Agency will be starting at the end of the week, and many of these guys will start moving fast. There’s no telling what can happen, but the Patriots should acquire some fresh faces with the incoming threat of loosing a lot of players from last year’s Championship team.