Although many free agents have come and gone this offseason, many are still waiting for a new home. The Patriots are currently in a challenging position, lacking an offensive coordinator and being in a very tough division. However, some of these players could be the key to helping us succeed.
With the Patriots starting training camp, it’s never too late to acquire new players. Here are five key players New England could pursue before the end of the summer.
Five: Nate Solder
Patriots already have a stacked offensive line with David Andrews, Trent Brown, and now drafting Cole Strange, but it’s never wrong to improve and grab a key player. Nate Solder would fit this spot for a couple of good reasons. The first being he’s very familiar with the coaching.
He’s played with Belichick before from 2011 to 2017, so he’s more than familiar with his play style. The other team he played for was the New York Giants. Patriots recently picked up their former head coach, Joe Judge, and Another coach Solder would be familiar with.
Both coaches could target Solder based on past trust and still being a very solid lineman. He isn’t what he used to be, but he has value as a backup to Trent Brown. After all, protecting Mac Jones is key since he’s our only option at Quarterback and having an injury so young can lead to several issues.
Having Solder is a key substitute to keep our offensive line stacked for Jones and offering extra protection to the running back. Although he is averaging 15.5 million a year, he has had a couple of seasons of underperformance. The Patriots can pick him up for cheaper than that and not have to use him in a starting role which keeps him fresh.
Four: Trey Flowers
Another former Patriot who shined under the organization and should return is Trey Flowers, who was a key part of our defense for four years, putting up 21 sacks, 164 tackles, and 59 QB hits. Unfortunately for the team, he was signed to the Lions in 2019 for a massive deal. New England didn’t match, and he left. Flowers never quite fit in. Detriot played injured and declined from there.
However their head coach, Matt Patricia, is now under new rule with Belichick and their minds combined could improve Flowers to the elite key player he was.
In his seven-year career, he has had 31.5 sacks, 262 tackles, and 86 QB hits, making him a solid defensive end. Although last year his numbers weren’t the best (24 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits in 7 games), he could most certainly improve. The only downside is his contract was 18 million on the Lions, but that was due to their immense cap space.
With Flowers weaker performance and drive to win, he may take a pay cut to play on a better team such as the Patriots. Flowers would be key to the weak side of the defense, a defense that has lost multiple champions in the past years (with Van Noy, Gilmore, and Jackson gone).
Three: Jason McCourty
Another former patriots player, it was such a shock for him to be traded for almost nothing. However, he’s still someone we can get back and would be key to the defense. Jason McCourty doesn’t have a hall of fame career but it shows to be solid, with 18 interceptions, 744 tackles, and nine forced fumbles in 11 years.
His season last year on the Dolphins was iffy, only getting 21 tackles in four games, but it should be noted that Miami moved him outside his comfort zone on defense. Being a defensive back last season since Howard and Jones both sufficed as cornerbacks, he can return to cornerback on the Patriots, a position we desperately need.
He would be a key cornerback to lock up the main receivers we need to worry about in the season (Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Corey Davis, etc.).
His contract is only a little over a million to play in Miami, meaning if the Patriots offer him a little bit more, he could breakout and be a huge part.
Two: Jason Pierre-Paul
Being one of the most elite players on Tampa Bay’s stacked defense, it’s possible to see him come to New England. Jason Pierre-Paul is a three time pro bowler (2012, 2012, and 2020), and over his 11-year career, he has four interceptions, 91.5 sacks, and 603 tackles as a linebacker.
In 12 games last year with the Buccaneers last season, he produced two and a half sacks and 32 tackles. Although not the best, is pretty solid. Pierre-Paul could be a perfect replacement for losing Van Noy in free agency and could boost the defense with his veteran skill set.
His contract is also relatively cheap for a premium position and talented player, only 12.5 million. With Patriots trying to clear cap space, they could try and sign him for a more reasonable price given his age and get rid of excess players.
One: Emmanuel Sanders
Its no question that Patriots still may need another wide receiver to compete offensively, and with so many on the market, he seems like the key fit for the team. Emmanuel Sanders had a peak career in Denver, and in his 11 years, he’s had 402 receptions, 9245 yards, and 51 touchdowns.
Last year on Buffalo he only managed to put up 42 receptions, 626 yards, and four Touchdowns. However, Bills already had a talented offensive roster, not really needed Sanders. Manny Sanders would be a key asset to the team, sharing the spotlight with Davante Parker and giving Mac Jones more options to throw to.
The Bills managed to snag him for six million, which is cheaper than what we pay Agholor and Bourne, so getting Sanders could be such a steal for the Patriots.
The Patriots have always been on the cheaper side of things, always worrying about signing talent for a cheap price. These free agents are not too pricey and can offer great service to the patriots. Moreover, these players may be the key to succeeding and advancing into the playoffs.
Many of these players Belichick already has a strong connection with, and will therefore make it easier for him to coach them. Hopefully, the Patriots will take advantage of these key players in the summer and add to the roster. But, seeing some new and familiar faces in New England would be nice.
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