The New England Patriots have been solid thus far in their signings concerning the 2023 NFL Season’s Free Agency Period, which began officially on March 15th. Some question marks have been erased, but others remain, as this team still has fairly obvious gaps and weak spots within the roster.
However, the general consensus on the most pressing needs has become reasonably clear. Though these three moves we’ll discuss today might seem obvious, it will be helpful to explore our options left and go over which available players offer the highest upsides and which are the best potential fits for this New England Patriots franchise.
Patriots Sign A Cornerback
This is generally considered our most pressing concern after (semi) addressing that of WR. The Patriots released Jalen Mills last week, so everyone expects some sort of move(s) regarding the position to come to fruition shortly.
Our passing defense was in the middle of the pack last year (16th in the league, allowing 216.5 passing yards per game), so even though it wasn’t a complete disaster, there’s obviously some room for improvement. On the other hand, it’s also fair to note that we had some rookies playing reasonably consistently at the position last year, and we can hopefully expect improved play from them this season.
Our Cornerback room currently contains a group of players who are absolutely Jonesing to prove they have what it takes, consisting of Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Myles Jones, and Shaun Jones… Sorry, Myles Bryant*, and Shaun Wade*.
I’m sold on Jonathan Jones as the leader and voice of this young group and don’t think we should or would bring in anyone to undermine that. If we bring in somebody else, they’ll be more youthful than Jonathan and almost certainly also have the last name Jones, if I had to guess.
Are There Any Good Cornerbacks Available?
Kind of? Not really, though. Most of the good ones were snagged immediately and already have deals. However, I do have my eye on former Colt and Raider Rock Ya-Sin as someone who would be a good scheme fit and a player who could potentially be the right guy at the right age for the right price. Chances are we’ll both be signing a Cornerback in FA and drafting one somewhere around the middle rounds of this year’s draft.
Patriots Trade For Deandre Hopkins Or Acquire Another New WR
JuJu was a great signing, in my humble opinion, and not somebody who was even on my radar. It makes perfect sense now, though, and looking back at all of the WR signings this year, I genuinely believe it’s the best WR signing anyone’s made so far on the season.
For $7,500,000 less than the Raiders are paying Meyers, we acquired a player of arguably equal skill with historically much better statistics. JuJu might even thrive with another shot at being an actual primary target. Still, the consensus remains that bringing in as much firepower as possible couldn’t hurt. Thus, signing another high-end WR FA remains a fair possibility at some point before the start of the upcoming 2023 NFL Season.
Are there Any Good WRs Available?
There is a healthy handful of guys who seem like they could come in and help, and it seems unlikely we don’t end up with another new face in the WR room by way of FA. Though there seems to be a real possibility of the Patriots trading for Deandre Hopkins as of right now, and if that were to happen, it would become less likely that we’d explore Free Agency further for anything beyond depth-piece acquisitions.
Suppose we don’t manage to swing a trade for D-Hop. In that case, a few guys, both higher and lower end, could undoubtedly be worthwhile acquisitions, including (but not limited to): Breshad Perriman, Jarvis Landry, OBJ, Julio Jones, Marvin Jones, and more. (IMO: We should sign both Jones’s).
Patriots Acquire Two Punters
All of us Patriots fans witnessed firsthand (for the first time in a while) how vital a halfway decent punter was to an NFL team last year. Unfortunately, after paying and paying Jake Bailey the big bucks before the previous season (three-year, $9.1 million), Jake rewarded the Patriot’s generosity by having the worst season of his career and the worst season for a Patriots punter since 2009.
It’s too bad really, considering Jake’s first three years on the team were ranked fifth, first, and second statistically in the history of the Patriots for punters (through 16 games). He’ll likely go down as the Patriot’s best Punter of all time, and one can only imagine what happened to cause his play to diminish as poorly as it did.
Fun fact: The Patriot’s best Punter of all time, statistically, is actually Matt Cassel. In 2008, he punted once, for 57 yards, giving him an NY/P (Net yards per punt) of 57.0. While we’re on the topic, does anyone remember Randall Cunningham’s 91-yard punt? Look that up if you’ve never seen it; truly extraordinary. Maybe Bill should give old Randall a call.
Punting is essential, be it an often underlooked part of the game, and even though the media isn’t going to build a circus around it, we can rest assured that Belichick and his team are combing the globe to find a suitable replacement to put the nail in the coffin kicks this upcoming season.
Are There Any Good Punters Available?
Sure. Probably. But before the season started last year, I said Jake Bailey is the best Punter in the NFL, and the Patriots ended the year 32nd in punting. So, I imagine it’s more of a roll-of-the-dice/dartboard scenario. We got lucky before with Bailey as a rookie, and Belichick’s not afraid to roll the dice twice, so look for us to draft a rookie punter, either too early in the draft or pick one up afterward in UDFA. Along with the rookie, expect Bill to acquire a veteran Punter at some point and for our two new punters to battle it out in training camp.
With all that being said, I’m sure there are a plethora of other arguments and debates as to which needs are most pressing concerning this 2023 Patriots Roster, but these are almost certainly three of the things that will be addressed before we know it. It’s literally not possible to predict Belichick. He knows this game better than anyone and sees it in ways that only he can. However, whatever moves he makes are easy enough to get on board with, and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve.
Some people think Bill has made most of his moves concerning FA, but I wouldn’t be so sure. Though our cap space is running low, we could quickly restructure a few things here and there, and before you know it, we could potentially be making another high-profile acquisition that nobody expected. Anyone who claims to know for sure is either A. Lying, B. Adam Schefter or C. Bill Belichick himself.
The rest of us will find out soon enough. GO PATS!
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