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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3. S Kyle Dugger

Patriots fans had high hopes for Kyle Dugger heading into the 2023 NFL season.

After all, the former Lenoir-Rhyne ballhawk was coming off an impressive 2022 campaign that saw him lead the league with two Pick-6s while establishing a new career-high of eight defended passes. The pressure only grew when long-time Patriot Devin McCourty announced his retirement from football.

Dugger, for the most part, reached expectations. Although he didn't return any picks for touchdowns, he still tallied a personal-best 71 solo tackles while recording seven broken-up passes, two interceptions, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He was targeted a total of 64 times but only allowed 44 receptions for 478 yards and one TD after surrendering a 38-369-5 stat line in 2022.

Now that the offseason is here, the Patriots must do everything in their power to re-sign Dugger. New England had a top-10 pass defense in 2023 and it's hard to imagine an encore performance if Dugger leaves town. It's a small sample size, but it's worth noting that the Patriots allowed an average of 286.5 passing yards in the last two games that the 27-year-old has missed.

If the Patriots want to return to prominence sooner than later, they can't allow Dugger to test free agency. Otherwise, another suitor won't hesitate to snag him.

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