After winning their sixth Super Bowl, the New England Patriots will enter free-agency trying to retool their roster and assemble another championship-contending team. Like we’ve seen in years’ past, they’re unlikely to make big off-season moves and will look to re-sign some of their own players. This offseason, the Patriots will need to fill plenty of holes on both sides of the ball to continue their success. From Quarterback to receiver to defensive line, there are plenty of positions the Patriots need to address through free-agency or the draft. Players including Trey Flowers and Trent Brown are impending free-agents, which could hinder some of their cap flexibility, but there are still some bargains on the market the Patriots could pursue. That rises the question: Who could the Patriots target to improve their team?
Teddy Bridgewater, QB (27)
While the Patriots could easily go to the draft to find Tom Brady‘s successor, there is still plenty of talent on the free-agent market. One of the top quarterback options on the market is Teddy Bridgewater, who despite some injuries over his career, is still a viable option to take over the reins when Brady decides to call it quits. Although based on his age and talent Bridgewater could gain plenty of interest from teams in desperate need of quarterback help, the Patriots could certainly be interested. Even though he hasn’t gotten much game experience of late sitting behind Drew Brees for most of last season, Bridgewater is a great option for the Patriots who could utilize his skillset to potentially become the quarterback of the future. He could look to find a starting gig somewhere else, but if he wants to spend a few more years under Brady and develop, Bridgewater could still benefit. There’s no guarantee the Patriots will be interested, but as a talented duel-threat quarterback giving Bridgewater a shot may be worth it at a reasonable price.
Earl Thomas, Safety (29)
Earl Thomas has continued to prove he is one of the best safeties in the entire league through his production over the years. Despite breaking his leg in a collision with Kam Chancellor in Week 13, Thomas will still be one of the most highly regarded free-agents in this year’s class. With both his physicality and strong coverage skills, Thomas would be an interesting fit next to Devin McCourty in the Patriots’ secondary. The injury history will be a concern, but adding a safety of his caliber could make the team’s back-end scary even though safety isn’t a pressing need.
This could be a bit of a stretch considering the potential contract he could command, but if the Patriots are willing to make a generous offer, the secondary would improve dramatically. There have been trade rumors of Thomas being interested in the Dallas Cowboys, but it remains to be seen what teams he prefers. Thomas has expressed his desire to move on from the Seahawks so it will be interesting to monitor if the Patriots show any interest in the 29 year-old.
Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver (30)
With Julian Edelman now currently the team’s No.1 receiver, it appears the Patriots will likely address the wide receiving position this offseason, especially with the Josh Gordon situation up in the air. Although this year’s class is relatively weak at that position, there’s still some talent available. One of those targets could be Demaryius Thomas, who the Patriots were rumored to be targeting during last season’s trade deadline. Although he’s coming off a serious injury, adding Thomas will be a low risk high reward option as he is unlikely to command a huge contract at his age.
Being familiar working with his former head coach in Josh McDaniels with the Denver Broncos, Thomas could be a nice fit for a team in need of an outside receiver. Chris Hogan became almost nonexistent last season which could force the Patriots to look elsewhere to add depth to their receiving corps. The draft is always an option to address the position, but it’ll be surprising to not see at least a little interest in adding the former Broncos standout.
Adam Humphries (WR)
Should the Patriots look elsewhere at receiver, Adam Humphries could be an intriguing option in terms of value. In adding Humphries, the Patriots could end up filling in the void Danny Amendola left last season joining the Miami Dolphins. As more of a possession receiver who uses his speed and quickness to get by defenders, Humphries would bring another reliable weapon into the Patriots offense in the slot. This isn’t to say he’ll have the same impact as Amendola had, but signing him could give Brady another bit of security in the passing game. He won’t likely command too much money and fits into the Patriots offensive scheme, which are two qualities Bill Belichick values. It doesn’t hurt Humphries has kick and punt return experience which only adds to his value on the Patriots who enjoy versatile players.
Jared Cook, (TE)
With Rob Gronkowski‘s status up in the air, the Patriots may need to explore the free-agent market to address the tight-end position. Dwayne Allen is by no means guaranteed to come back, which could force the team to look at players like Jared Cook who could be a weapon in the passing game. Cook is coming off a breakout year with the Oakland Raiders, with career highs in receptions (68) , yards (896), and touchdowns (6). Adding that production to the Patriots’ offense, Cook could be a vital part of a passing game that currently has a lack of weapons. Should Gronkowski decide to retire, Cook could become a viable option for a team in need of at least a backup tight-end. It’s unclear what kind of market Cook faces, but signing him to a reasonable offer could be quite the bargain for a Patriots offense that relies so heavily on having a tight-end being a weapon in the red-zone.
It is still a little early to predict who the Patriots will target once free-agency begins, but these are certainly some players the team could be interested in. It’ll all come down to what the Patriots can afford, but there are still plenty of hidden gems in free-agency that could provide value. For now, the Patriots will continue to celebrate their Super Bowl victory until its time to start adding to their already talented roster.