The New England Patriots have 19 free agents. The team has a lot of decisions to make on their own free agents before they start to look at the market to get better. And there are lots of ways they need to get better.
The Patriots have somewhat settled into the nether world of NFL football. Not good enough to present a title challenge anywhere and not bad enough to get a really high-impact draft pick.
It’s exactly where you don’t want to be. This all eventuated after they foolishly and unceremoniously dumped the greatest quarterback and player in NFL history, Mr. Tom Brady.
The team is therefore reaping what it sowed. It’s called mediocrity. Whether it was due to lousy players, truly terrible coaching, or a combination of both, massive changes are necessary to the 2022 team and that means cutting ties with a whole host of marginal players.
Some will be easy decisions, others more difficult. One thing is certain, however, go into 2023 with this same group and you’ll be right back where you were this season. And that’s nowhere near good enough.
It’s time for the Patriots (as it was last offseason) to not only augment their offense but also add to the defense in a few key positions as well. That means players will not be back.
Let’s first take a look at who the easy cuts will likely be.
New England Patriots should cut ties with these free agents
Some cuts are relatively simple. These include the following players: Nelson Agholor, Isaiah Wynn, Joejuan Williams, Carl Davis, Raekwon McMillan, Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Mack Wilson, Cody Davis, and Myles Bryant. That’s 10 of 19, a good start.
Two keepers who may retire are all-time Patriots greats and future Patriots and maybe even Pro Football Hall of Famers, Devin McCourty, and Matthew Slater. Both have played a lot of great football for New England and they’ll stay if they want.
Let’s assume they retire bringing the list of free agents leaving to 12 of 19. Two very good players who are coming off their rookie contracts are Jakobi Meyers and Damian Harris. The team mistakenly hasn’t re-signed either. As with J.C. Jackson last season, they may be willing to cut ties and move on.
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Meyers may go but he’s one who should have been signed two years ago, and he’s one who should be retained. But, let’s assume they take the Jackson tack and move on from both. That brings those leaving to 14.
New England Patriots free agents who should be re-signed
Likely re-signees are solid cornerback Jonathan Jones (though he has a $7M Annual Average Value and is nearing age 30) and reliable long-snapper Joe Cardona (health permitting). Linebacker/safety hybrid Jabrill Peppers who showed well in spots may be back but it’s questionable.
Two players who are depth pieces and are on the bubble are guard/center James Ferentz whose versatility is an asset, and offensive tackle Conor McDermott who filled in fairly well among a slew of offensive line injuries. Let’s assume they remain, but they can also go in a more thorough housecleaning.
So that’s a quick review of the Patriots free agent situation and what’s expected here. Absent more poor offseason personnel decision-making, most of the 12 who were noted as going, and the two possible retirees represent 14 of the 19 free agent players who may not be in Foxborough next season.
That number could easily swell to 17 if you add fringe players, Ferentz and McDermott, and backup Peppers. So, the outgrowth of this exercise is this.
Patriot Nation should expect and welcome a huge turnover in the squad for 2023. Retaining many of these marginal free agents and a bunch of other ineffective players would be counterproductive and prolong the mediocrity.
Which free agents do you think the Patriots should part ways with or re-sign this offseason? We’d like to hear.