3 Players Patriots Should Sign After the First Week of Free Agency

Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) runs
Sep 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) runs / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Even though NFL free agency is barely a week old, much of the premier talent has flown off the board as the league's 32 clubs raced to upgrade their rosters ahead of the 2024 season. All of CBS Sports' top 26 free agents have signed or been tagged, and 44 of their top 50 have found new homes or re-upped. Glancing at the calendar, it is easy to suggest that the offseason is just getting underway, but the reality is quite the opposite.

Despite entering the offseason with the NFL's highest available cap space, the Patriots have failed to make a big splash that significantly moves the needle and rather have relied on more strategic moves around the margins and retaining contributors. It appears that Eliot Wolf is fully bought in on his father's "Packer's Way" and will predominantly focus on restocking roster talent through the draft.

The Patriots have still over $45 million in cap space to spend, and although there are no real players still on the market that should command substantial contracts. New England has largely stuck to minimal moves, but at this stage of free agency, that is really all that is left out there for the taking.

Even with the blue chip free agents off of the board, the Patriots still have needs that they must address on both sides of the ball. Here are three players that New England should be in on as the initial free agency wave wanes away.

3. Stephon Gilmore, CB

A 2019 NFL Defensive Play of the Year with the New England Patriots, the 33-year-old enjoyed a renaissance year in 2023 with the Dallas Cowboys. Gilmore entered free agency as NFL.com's 16th-ranked free agent. Gilmore has stated publicly that he would like to return to Dallas, but Jerry Jones has essentially been asleep at the wheel during free agency.

2023 first-round pick Christian Gonzalez was a bright spot in the early stages of his rookie season and took home September Defensive Rookie of the Month, but he missed the rest of the season after suffering a pair of injuries in Week 4. Despite his undeniable upside, it is too early to make an overarching assumption that Gonzalez is this franchise's No. 1 corner for the foreseeable future based solely on 3 1/2 games at the pro level. It could also be beneficial for Gonzalez to learn from a seasoned veteran at his position.

The Patriots are young at the cornerback position, in addition to Gonzalez, the depth chart currently rounds out with Alex Austin (22), Azizi Hearn (24), Marco Wilson (24), Shaun Wade (25), Isaiah Bolden (24), and Marcus Jones (25). Bringing in a player of Gilmore's pedigree to tutor the younger position group makes a New England reunion an enticing prospect, not to mention the on-field performance that Gilmore provided Dallas last season.