This NFL offseason is a big one for the New England Patriots as they prepare for life without Bill Belichick for the first time in nearly 25 years. There's a sense of optimism about the future rolling through the fanbase, especially with the 37-year-old Jerod Mayo as the new head coach in town.
If the Patriots want Mayo to excel this fall, surrounding him with the best roster possible is a must. Even though last season didn't go as planned and several players underperformed, there are a handful of free agents New England should re-sign to help Mayo hit the ground running in September.
Here are five pending free agents that the Patriots must re-sign this offseason.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB
After spending his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott made his way to New England on a one-year deal during the offseason.
Even though he's past his prime, Elliott still wound up being one of the Patriots' best offensive contributors. The 28-year-old rusher finished his eighth NFL season with 642 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 184 carries while also catching 51 balls for another 313 yards and two TDs. He even stepped up and made five starts when fellow RB Rhamondre Stevenson missed the last five games of the year.
Sure, he might not rush for 1,000 yards again, but Elliott is the perfect complement to Stevenson in the backfield. He was a strong threat in the red zone, leading the Patriots with touches (25) and touchdowns (5) inside of the 20-yard line.
Another cheap one-year deal would be great, especially if the New England offensive line can stay healthy for the entire campaign.