The New England Patriots free agency action has dominated the headlines. They uncharacteristically jumped in on the NFL Free Agency action early, and they aren’t settling for friendly deals.
Belichick is Wasting No Time in Patriots Free Agency
Bill Belichick has had two losing seasons in Foxboro. These seasons are twenty years apart. In 2000, the Patriots finished 5-11. In 2001, they won the Super Bowl with an innocent backup quarterback, Tom Brady.
Fast forward to 2021. The Patriots are coming off of a losing season (7-9). There remains the question of who is the quarterback of the future? How are they going to rebuild without Brady?
Simple. Make enough room in your salary cap to have the second-most cap space of any NFL team. Shockingly, their spending has become fruitful to some.
In the past 24 hours, the Patriots have spent $275 million in free agency.
They are only getting started.
Patriots fans have a lot more hope heading into 2021, unlike a year ago. Belichick still believes in Cam Newton, so he surrounded him with improved weapons. They are ready to compete again.
Who are these signings? Let’s discuss the Patriots free agency moves thus far.
Jonnu Smith, TE
4 Years, $50M ($31.25M Guaranteed)
Jonnu Smith fits into this offense like a glove. He broke out last season, starting the year with five touchdowns in four games, but an ankle injury kept him on the sidelines for a few weeks. He still finished the season with, 41 catches, 448 yards and eight touchdowns.
Smith eats targets in the red zone. He led the Titans in red zone targets last season, with 19. For reference, AJ Brown finished with 12.
He is a great outlet for Cam to hit in the red zone or on crucial third downs.
Hunter Henry, TE
3 Years, $35M ($25M Guaranteed)
This was a shock. This signing immediately makes Patriots fans remember the duo of Gronk and Hernandez. An upgraded version may unfold this season.
Hunter Henry will thrive in this offense because of his style of play. First, he can act as another receiver with his ability to run routes, create space and catch the ball. Henry ended 2020 with 60 catches, 613 yards and four touchdowns. Only Keenan Allen had more targets than him.
Henry is great in the red zone, too. However, he will be most valuable on crucial third downs to gain 15-25 yards. This duo could be a lethal combo for the next few seasons.
Nelson Agholor, WR
2 Years, $26M (Base salary is $11M)
Instead of signing Kenny Golladay or Will Fuller, the Patriots decided to get two solid receivers who have the potential to grow into bigger roles. Agholor is the perfect guy for this job.
He left Philly on bad terms, even being made into a meme before departing.
However, Agholor flipped a switch in Las Vegas.
Agholor played his best NFL season, catching 48 passes for 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Stefon Diggs and Will Fuller also had eight, while WRs like Chris Godwin and Justin Jefferson only scored seven.
He is a deep ball threat who has the ability to beat the defender off a route. Newton would have loved to have a guy like him last season.
Kendrick Bourne, WR
(3 Years, $22.5M)
Kendrick Bourne showed glimpses of greatness over his tenure with the 49ers. In 2019, he caught five touchdown passes. He achieved career-highs in targets, catches and yards a season ago.
Bourne’s baggage starts and ends with his ability to stay healthy. He has started 13 out of the 58 games he has played in — not the best thing you want to see as a Patriots fan.
He has a future role in Belichick’s system. Julian Edelman will take him under his wing. Belichick envisions a bigger role than he had in San Francisco.
Matt Judon, EDGE
4 years, $56M ($32M over first two seasons)
The Patriots are breaking the bank on both sides of the ball. This signing created chaos on social media platforms.
Judon’s work ethic and Belichick’s coaching style are a perfect match. He is known as a, “First in. Last out,” type of guy along with his ability to make the extra effort on every play. This is a trait that Belichick values over anything else.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Judon has 34.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 236 tackles in 76 games. Micah Parsons sounds like a no-brainer at the 15th spot to pair these two together.
Jalen Mills, S
4 Years, $24M
A shocking signing that has the potential to be another “Gilmore” type signing. Jalen Mills brings confidence to the team with his outspoken personality.
Mills is one of the most versatile safeties in the league. According to ESPN, Mills is the only player in the NFL to play 50-plus snaps at seven different “pre-snap” positions. In a simple sentence, Mills has a very high football IQ. Belichick knows this.
Give him a season or two learning under the McCourtys and former DPOY Stephon Gilmore. Training camp just got a lot more interesting.
Davon Godchaux, DT
2 Years, $16M ($9M Guaranteed)
This signing makes sense for the Patriots’ support in stopping the run.
Last season, the Patriots allowed the seventh-most rushing yards and allowed 4.5 yards a carry. Davon Godchaux and the re-signed Deatrich Wise were brought in to improve this hole in the defense.
The Patriots allowed over 100 rushing yards in every game last season except for two. I pray that Godchaux can be the answer to their problems.
The 2021 Patriots look like a wagon on paper; it’s only been less than 48 hours.
The NFL Draft will be another indicator of what is next for the Patriots. It has been a very uncharacteristic year for Belichick and the Pats; Should we expect to see more unusual signings occur before April?