Free agency is right around the corner for the New England Patriots. While it’s fun to imagine guys like Hunter Henry coming to Foxboro, history tells us Bill Belichick prefers to look for the bargain in free agency. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some under-the-radar free agent targets the Patriots could pursue in March.
Under the Radar New England Patriots Free Agent Targets
Breshad Perriman had a tough time getting his footing in the NFL. Selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Perriman only spent two seasons with Baltimore before joining the Cleveland Browns. After doing nothing of note in Cleveland, the Central Florida product spent the majority of 2019 behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa Bay. However, Perriman had a chance to shine in the final three weeks of the season. Filling in for the injured Evans and Godwin, Perriman recorded 17 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns. Perriman demonstrated an ability to get open deep and win contested catches while running a decent route tree.
History tells us that Bill Belichick likes to bring in former first-round picks that never quite reached their potential. Whether it’s Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, or many others, Belichick typically believes in his ability to bring out the best in a talented player. Perriman is no superstar, but those final three weeks showed he has what it takes to be a productive NFL receiver.
Alternate Option: Nelson Agholor
Tyler Eifert is a solid tight end when he’s actually healthy. The former first-round pick managed to stay healthy for all 16 games in 2019, ending the year with 43 receptions for 436 yards and three touchdowns. This production was somewhat underwhelming, but it’s worth noting that Eifert spent the year in arguably the worst offense in football. If given a better coach and quarterback, there is a possibility Eifert becomes a more productive player.
According to Pro Football Focus, Eifert ended the year as the 27th-best tight end in the league. While he might not be able to play at his 2015 level anymore, he still represents a considerable upgrade on New England’s current depth chart. Tyler Eifert should not be Plan A for New England, but he’s a solid fallback option if guys like Hunter Henry or Austin Hooper don’t reach the open market.
Alternate Option: Greg Olsen
Vic Beasley has been objectively terrible for the last two seasons. The former first-round pick ended 2018 as PFF’s worst edge defender and only marginally improved in 2019. However, despite the subpar rating, there is hope Beasley can turn his career around. Beasley started his career on a high note, recording a league-high 15.5 sacks and a First-Team All-Pro nomination in 2016. Defensive success is highly influenced by scheme, so perhaps Belichick can bring out the best in him. If nothing else, Beasley’s 13 sacks since 2018 show that he can still get to the quarterback as a situational pass rusher.
Alternate Option: Bud Dupree
The New England Patriots are probably going to need to bring in a linebacker or two in the coming months. Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts are all scheduled to hit free agency, and it’s hard to imagine all three returning to Foxboro. With that in mind, a player like Nick Kwiatkoski would be a perfect fit in New England. Overshadowed on a talented Chicago Bears defense, Kwiatkowski ended the year as PFF’s 16th-best linebacker. He’s an above-average starter, plays special teams, and is only projected to receive a two-year, $6.5 million contract. This one makes too much sense to not happen.
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