New England Patriots Off to Hot Start in Free Agency
The New England Patriots have been making early headlines with key free agent signings and trades to help bolster their championship team.
In years past, the New England Patriots have been very quiet while other teams have dished out long term contracts. However, this offseason is off to a very different start. Bill Belichick and his staff have been wheeling and dealing to begin this free agency period. The Patriots have been bringing in valuable free agents while trading for studs to help bolster their roster.
Being overshadowed are the Patriots players who helped bring a fifth Lombardi Trophy to Foxboro who will be returning.
But with every addition to the roster, comes a subtraction. The New England Patriots have already lost their fair share of playmakers from their 2016 Super Bowl winning team.
Free Agent Signings
CB Stephon Gilmore
The Patriots opened up their wallet to sign former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore is a former 10th overall selection in 2012 out of South Carolina. He has spent his previous five years as a pro in Buffalo. The Patriots had two opportunities a season to see Gilmore in action. His 14 interceptions in 68 career games helped make the decision to bring in the 6’0″ cornerback easier. Gilmore alongside Malcolm Butler (if he stays with New England) will give the Patriots an impressive cornerback tandem. Gilmore inked a five-year, $65 million deal with $40 million of that money guaranteed.
DL Lawrence Guy
The New England Patriots hosted the former Baltimore Raven on Friday. On Saturday, Lawrence Guy signed a four-year contract worth $20 million. This addition added depth to the interior of their defensive line. The interior line was an issue at some points during the season. However, this was one of their stronger units on the defensive side of the football all year.
Trade After Trade
The Patriots actually began free agency with a trade. The team acquired tight end Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts for an undisclosed draft pick. The addition of Allen gives the Patriots a capable backup to Rob Gronkowski. He can catch the ball and is also a good blocking tight end as well.
The Patriots continued to add weapons to Tom Brady’s arsenal when they made the splash of 2017. The New England Patriots second attempt to acquire New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Brandin Cooks worked. The New England Patriots gave up their first round draft pick (32nd overall) and their third round pick (103rd overall). In return, the Patriots get Cooks and the Saints fourth round pick (118th overall). Cooks brings speed and the threat as a deep route runner to the Patriots offense.
The Patriots made yet another seemingly genius trade that same day. New England acquired Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy and a third round pick for the Patriots second round pick (64th overall). Ealy will be a compliment alongside Trey Flowers who has been making a name for himself on the defensive line. The Patriots will be getting a consistent pass rusher in Ealy. In his young career, he has played in all but one game. With the addition of Ealy, the Patriots have improved their pass rush that was very inconsistent at times.
Who’s on the Move?
Tight end Martellus Bennett is leaving New England to go play with former rival, Green Bay. He made the announcement on social media over the weekend.
On-the-rise cornerback Logan Ryan is heading down south to go play with the Tennessee Titans.The defense took more hits when Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo reportedly signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
Before free agency began, defensive end Chris Long announced on social media that he will also be leaving the Patriots.
The New England Patriots significantly increased their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs just days into free agency. The New England Patriots brought back safety Duron Harmon and defensive lineman Alan Branch. The team also re-signed fullback James Develin.
Despite the additions, the Patriots still have work to do as they still have some free agents to re-sign. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower leads that group for the Patriots. Reports over the weekend have speculated that Hightower could re-sign with the team. Other reports have said there are other teams in the mix for Hightower. Hopefully, the Patriots can lock up their defensive leader for the long term.
Stay tuned with @spot_patriots for more Patriots offseason acquisitions and departures.