The Patriots are coming off of a period where they spent $159.6 million in just nine days of free agency in 2021. They are going to have to spend a lot more to keep their premiere players in Foxborough. The list of upcoming New England Patriots free agents is expansive and features key players on all three phases of the game. The defense could take an extra large hit this offseason if the Patriots cannot bring back some of their stars such as Gilmore, McCourty, Jackson or Hightower. Now, McCourty and Hightower might not even return for the 2022 season so there will likely be some overhaul regardless.
Here are all of the 2022 free agents for the New England Patriots:
|PLAYER||POSITION||AGE||FA TYPE||CURRENT AAV|
AAV: Average Annual Value or average salary cap hit from his previous contract.
If any other terms in this chart were confusing, check out the NFL’s free agent glossary.
Priority Free Agents For The New England Patriots
There are a lot of great players on this list that would be huge losses for New England. They are not going to be able to retain this entire list of players so here is my breakdown of the free agent class.
Should Always Have A Contract Waiting For Them:
- FS Devin McCourty
- MLB Dont’a Hightower
- ST Mathew Slater
As far as I’m concerned, these three players deserve to play for as long as they choose in New England. At their current ages this trio will not garner enough interest to receive top-tier contracts or anything close for that matter. Bill Belichick could certainly reach reasonable contracts with McCourty and Hightower. Slater will get paid an amount that the Patriots will always be able to afford. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three retired, but if they don’t, I would still want them to end their careers in New England.
Top-Tier Free Agents:
- CB Stephon Gilmore
- CB J.C. Jackson
- OT Trent Brown
This tier is for players that will have the option to break the bank wherever they end up. Ideally, you would land at least one of the corners and try to get Trent Brown to take a discount. Gilmore does not appear to be thrilled with Belichick the GM and wants more money. I suspect he will find that elsewhere, but there is a chance his price is brought down to an affordable level due to his injury and age. Jackson would be my biggest priority this offseason as he is legitimately one of the best players in the league at 27-years-old. Jackson was ranked the 49th best player in the league by his peers on the 2021 NFL Top 100 list.
Brown is likely going to leave this offseason with the ability to get big money in free agency. The only real reason for hope is that both sides were left unsatisfied when Brown signed the mega-deal with the then Oakland Raiders. Trent Brown had issues in Oakland and was sent back to New England after just two seasons. He said that his first stint with the Patriots was the best time he’s ever had playing football and was clearly ecstatic to be back with the team. During that time without Brown, the Patriots offensive line clearly took a step down. Both sides benefit from each other so there is a real chance a deal could be worked out.
Middle-Tier Players I’d Like to Return:
- WR Jakobi Meyers
- RB James White
- WR Gunner Olszewski
- FB Jakob Johnson
- S/LB Adrian Philips
This tier is for players that won’t change the trajectory of the next organization they sign with, but are productive players. Jakobi Meyers has shown sizeable improvement each season and could jump up a tier with a great 2021 season. Meyers has been a steady receiver during a dark time for the offensive weapons in New England. I would love to see the Patriots bring back Jakobi Meyers for a second contract. Meyers is a restricted free agent so the Patriots can do a lot of things to keep him around.
James White almost fell into the first list of players that will always have an offer waiting in New England. White was an integral part of some of the Patriots best teams ever. He was also a star in the 28-3 comeback Super Bowl win. The Patriots love to filter through third-down backs but I’d bet Belichick would bring back White if he wanted to take an affordable contract.
Like Meyers, Gunner Olszewski was an undrafted free agent just a few years ago and will likely sign an affordable contract wherever he lands. He is new to the offensive side of the ball and can still be a solid contributor down the line as a receiver. If he doesn’t work out offensively, he can continue his role as an All-Pro Punt Returner. I don’t see any reason why Belichick wouldn’t bring Gunner back. He is also a restricted free agent.
Jakob Johnson is a quality fullback that plays hard and does his job. It wouldn’t be hard to replace Johnson, but I’d like to see him stick around.
Adrian Philips is someone that provided some unique versatility for New England in 2020. The role remains the same in 2021, and Belichick will likely have interest in bringing him back for that reason. He will be cheap to retain and allow Belichick to continue his mastermind scheming.
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