The first few days of free agency have been somewhat quiet for the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and this should come as no surprise to any who follows the organization closely. The team usually watches from the sideline as other teams typically overspend on the top-tier free agents, and then in the next few days, they will add more “value” players that don’t cost as much money. This trend has certainly continued into this year, as Bill Belichick and the Pats have only made two acquisitions so far by resigning cornerback Jason McCourty and signing former Patriot and special-teams standout Brandon Bolden.
Even though their offseason method of success has worked in previous years, they have missed out on some key opportunities to improve their team. They let their best pass-rusher, Trey Flowers, sign with his previous defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, and the Detroit Lions in free agency on Monday. Although the deal was expensive for the Lions, it might have actually been worth it for the Pats to retain their top pass-rusher. They have lacked elite defensive ends in recent years, and so, even though they did add Michael Bennett via trade, they should still be looking for pass-rush talent through either free agency or the draft. They also missed out on trading for Odell Beckham Jr. The star wideout was traded to the Browns for a relatively reasonable price, and given that the Pats are lacking wide receiver depth, the Patriots certainly could have used an elite wideout like OBJ to help the aging Tom Brady.
The next steps for this New England Patriots team involve signing some of the second-tier players still on the board in free agency. The first and most obvious option for the Patriots to try and acquire would be Golden Tate. There have been many rumors circulating that connect the veteran slot-receiver and the Patriots, and the two certainly seem to be a logical fit together. The Patriots need more receivers with Philip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson moving on, and a quick, possession receiver like Golden Tate could work well in Josh McDaniels’s system. The other positions of need for the Pats, however, are not very stacked with free agents at this point. Although there are some talented players at key positions like Ziggy Ansah and Ndamukong Suh, they do not seem like the Patriots’ ideal type of players, and it does not seem likely that they will come to New England on large contracts.
All in all, the large part of the Pats retooling for the 2019 season will most likely come from the draft. While they might make a few more signings, if they are able to address the key needs of pass-rush, defensive tackle, linebacker depth, and wide receiver in the draft, they will be right back in contention for their seventh Super Bowl in franchise history. If players like Jeffery Simmons, Noah Fant, Dexter Lawrence, or local players Zach Allen and Andy Isabella are still around for picks 32 and 56, the Patriots will be in a good place to draft in positions of need and get better as soon as possible. Belichick has his work cut out for him with the team getting older and key players like Rob Gronkowski considering retirement, but there is no reason not to trust his methods of success that have worked so often in the past.