Patriots come out swinging in free agency
In a rather unlikely manner, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots emerged as the biggest spender on day one of free agency. Before the start of free agency the team also announced the re-signing of quarterback Cam Newton.
New England has their worst season since 2000 a year ago finishing with a record of 7-9. With high expectations and a winning history in Foxborough, the Patriots need to upgrade their team in a major way to compete in the AFC and they have done their best so far.
Listed below are some of the immediate moves New England has made as well as a key loss in free agency. New England has come out swinging for the fences, but plenty of more moves are expected.
Patriots Sign Everyone: Additions
Judon comes over from rival the Baltimore Ravens on a massive contract agreement. New England identified Judon as a target to upgrade the defense and made a massive splash signing the linebacker to a reported four-year $56 million deal with $32 million guaranteed.
Last season Judon played with the Ravens on the franchise tag and finally got a long-term contract. Judon was drafted in 2016 by Baltimore and has been a pro bowler the previous two seasons. In five NFL seasons, Judon has totaled 34.5 sacks, 54 tackles for loss, and 103 quarterback hits.
The addition of Judon sure up the linebacker position for New England as he joins former pro-bowler Dont’a Hightower who opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to Covid-19, but plans to return in 2021.
New England turned to division rival the Miami Dolphins to upgrade the interior of their defensive line. The Patriots agreed to a two-year $16 million deal with nine million guaranteed. Godchaux, a former fifth-round pick of the Dolphins, adds size and run stopping ability to the Patriots as he is 6’3” 311 lbs.
Something to monitor is the health of Godchaux as he played in only five games with the Dolphins in 2020 after suffering an injury. If Godchaux can stay healthy this is a very good deal for a solid interior lineman.
The Patriots have been without tight end Rob Gronkowski for in 2019 and when he returned he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since Gronk, the tight end position has been inconsistent and unstable in New England.
The Patriots put an end to this quickly once legal tampering was allowed and added former Titans’ tight end, Jonnu Smith, to the offense. Smith totaled 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns in a run-heavy Tennesee offense in 2020. Smith leaves the Titans and joins New England on a four-year $50 million deal with $31.25 million guaranteed.
Smith becomes the third highest-paid tight end in the league behind only George Kittle and Travis Kelce. With a price tag that high New England must have big plans to make Smith a top target in their offense.
New England added former Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills to their defense signing a four-year $24 million contract. This contract has to be the most surprising of New England moves so far in free agency and to me, it does not make much sense. At best Mills has been an average cornerback in the NFL and good for him he landed a pretty decent contract for not doing overly too much so far.
Joe Thuney is one of the best guards in the NFL and with that comes a steep price in free agency. New England has decided to use money that could have gone to re-sign Thuney to spread out over upgrading different position groups. Thuney left New England after signing a five-year $80 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
New England recently acquired offensive tackle Trent Brown from the Raiders giving themselves more flexibility at the offensive line position.