New England Patriots free agency Bill Belichick

New England Patriots Free Agency Frenzy: Why Fans Should Not Be Surprised

  • 2021
  • 2021 Free Agency
  • 2021 nfl free agency
  • 2021 NFL Free Agents
  • 2021 NFL Offseason
  • Bill Belichick
  • Cam Newton
  • Davon Godchaux
  • Free Agency
  • Free Agents
  • Jalen Mills
  • Jonnu Smith
  • Matt Judon
  • New England
  • New England Patriots
  • NFL
  • NFL Offseason
  • Offseason
  • Patriots
By Mitchell Wolfe March 15, 2021 0 Comment
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The New England Patriots dominated the first day of the NFL’s free agency period. This seemingly surprised many people, but it shouldn’t have.

The New England Patriots made a big splash on the first day of NFL free agency. After trading for Trent Brown, trading away Marcus Cannon, and re-signing Cam Newton in the last week, Bill Belichick went all-in on Monday. The Patriots signed Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, Baltimore Ravens edge defender Matt Judon, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills.

Entering the day, the Patriots had around $70 million in cap space, among the highest in the league. But in just over three hours, New England shelled out over $146 million in new contracts. Many seemed shocked that the miserly Belichick suddenly turned lavish. Typically, Belichick and the Patriots sign veterans to extremely cheap deals and rehabilitate their careers. But now, Sith Lord Bill is putting out cash for new mercenaries.

However, to say that Belichick and the Patriots have rarely, or even never, spent in free agency is misguided. Fans seem to have forgotten Adalius Thomas, Roosevelt Colvin, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Stephon Gilmore. Obviously, the cap has inflated such that those deals are completely dwarfed by the ones signed today. But to say Bill has lost it or is completely overhauling his approach is mostly incorrect. In fact, one could even argue that Belichick’s free-agent signings have a much higher hit rate than his draft picks; but that’s for another article.

Breaking Down the Patriots Free Agent Signings

Looking at these moves individually, they pretty much all make sense. Smith was arguably the best tight end on the market, as he is an excellent blocker and a versatile offensive weapon. Smith could have a career year in 2021 as Cam Newton’s safety blanket. On defense, Judon fits perfectly as a versatile edge rusher that can play in a variety of fronts; Godchuax was an underrated part of Miami’s defensive resurgence and will replace Lawrence Guy and/or Adam Butler quite well.

Jalen Mills is the odd man out here; he played both cornerback and safety for the Philadelphia Eagles, but not particularly well at either. The Pats’ secondary might be in flux this offseason, with Jason McCourty and JC Jackson possibly leaving in free agency and trade rumors for Stephon Gilmore swirling. As a rotational depth defender, maybe Belichick can rehabilitate Mills’s career; with that in mind, Mills’ contract figure does not make much sense.

As of this publishing, the Patriots have made no other signings yet, but a wide receiver could be on the horizon. Regardless, the New England Patriots won the first day of free agency, reloading their defense and finding a new toy for Cam Newton. For those concerned about these signings, consider this: while the cap is somewhat restricted this year, it is projected to eclipse $200 million next year, making these allegedly exorbitant contracts reasonable. As usual, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are ahead of the curve. If Newton stays healthy this year, fans should expect to see the Patriots back in the playoffs next year.

Update: Two Evening Wide Receiver Additions

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were also rumored to be kicking the tires on multiple free-agent wide receivers. This evening, those rumors bore fruit.

Kendrick Bourne is a bit of a deep cut for most NFL fans; however, most know Nelson Agholor’s name, albeit for the wrong reasons. These transactions seem to follow the aforementioned theory that the Pats are spending this year with the expectation that the cap will rise next year. Granted, at this point, we do not know the financial details of these contracts, so we do not know to what extent the contracts are front-loaded or back-loaded.

However, the fact remains that Bourne and Agholor are two NFL starting-caliber receivers that have solid production over the course of their careers. Along with Jonnu Smith, these two players should help Cam Newton bounce back after a rough season.

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I cover and write about the NFL, the NFL Draft, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am originally from Hershey, PA and was raised a Pittsburgh sports fan. I went to Boston College for undergrad and am currently finishing a Master's degree in Sports Business at Temple University, concentrating in Sport Analytics.


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