3 Patriots New England Can't Afford to Let Hit Free Agency in 2024

Next month's NFL free agency period is around the corner. If the New England Patriots are smart, they won't let these three players hit the open market.

WR Kendrick Bourne is one player the Patriots shouldn't let hit free agency.
WR Kendrick Bourne is one player the Patriots shouldn't let hit free agency. / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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Super Bowl LVIII is officially in the rearview mirror, meaning the New England Patriots — and the rest of the NFL — can officially focus on the offseason.

Many Patriots fans are, unsurprisingly, focused on the 2024 NFL Draft, but the franchise must deal with free agency first. Spotrac lists New England as having approximately $69.8 million to spend this offseason and while that's more than enough money to take care of the 26 pending free agents, not everyone is guaranteed to return.

With that in mind, here are three players who the Patriots can't afford to let hit free agency this offseason.

1. WR Kendrick Bourne

Is Kendrick Bourne the Patriots' biggest free-agent name this offseason? No, but they certainly can't afford to lose him, either.

Bourne was on pace to have his best performance to date in 2023. He was easily New England's best wide receiver in the first half of the season, pulling in 37 balls for 406 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, disaster struck at the end of October when the 28-year-old tore his ACL, prematurely ending his campaign in the process.

Had Bourne stayed healthy, he was on pace for 79 catches, 864 yards, and nine touchdowns — all of which would've been new personal bests.

With Bourne slated to hit the open market, the Patriots must do what they can to re-sign him. Wide receiver was one of New England's weaker positions last season, so it doesn't make sense to let go of the only consistent threat outside of Demario Douglas. If anything, I'd love to see a trio of Bourne, Douglas, and a legitimate WR1 signed in free agency/drafted in April.

Letting Jakobi Meyers walk last offseason was a mistake and the Patriots don't need to reenact that this year with Bourne. That's especially true since ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that Bourne "would like to re-sign" in New England.