The best fits for Patriots remaining on market

The New England Patriots aren’t done with free agency yet. We’re heading into the second phase of the process when some of the best NFL players are still on the market, but they may not be getting the interest they wanted. For a team like the Patriots, who reportedly told agents to chat with New England if their clients weren’t seeing a market materialize, this might just be the perfect moment to scoop up a player for less than they’re worth.

The Patriots don’t have an overwhelming amount of salary cap space, so they’ll have to be careful with how they spend their money. For the most part, Bill Belichick has retained talent

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The receiver may be past his prime years of production but teams would be foolish to think he can’t contribute anymore. The big-bodied receiver could bring competence to the outside receiver role that New England lacked in 2022. And they wouldn’t have to abandon Nelson Agholor’s role altogether. It might even be better for Jones’ health if the Patriots keep him on a pitch count until later in the season.

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After suffering a torn ACL, his market might not be quite what it was after a massive finish to the season on the way to winning a Super Bowl with the Rams. Beckham said he was very close to signing with the Patriots. Might they push for him again?

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The Patriots are among the “multiple teams” that were “tire kicking” with Valdes-Scantling, according to a league source. He’s not the player that fans want New England to sign. But he does check many of the boxes – including the one where it reads: “INEXPENSIVE.”

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He has the speed and explosiveness that the Patriots lack. He also probably has some familiarity with New England’s way of doing things after a substantial tenure with the Houston Texans under Bill O’Brien.

The injury history is concerning, but perhaps i know concerning that he could go for below-market value. At a certain point, that might draw in a team like New England that needs to add someone – anyone – to create a bigger threat for the Patriots offense in 2022.

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The Patriots met with him during the free agency period, so clearly, they’re at least interested to see if he’s a fit. And perhaps they found that he is. But there have been no reports of interest since his visit of him. So we’ll see how his market di lui progresses. In the meantime, the Patriots have a clear need at guard, where they lost Ted Karras and Shaq Mason, their two starters in 2021.

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If the Patriots want a stabilizing, starting-caliber guard on the roster, they should look no further than Aboushi, who has been good (though not great) during his years bouncing around the NFL as a fill-in starter.

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After taking a look at Trent Brown’s contract with the Patriots – which is heavily laden with play-time incentives – New England may have interest in adding more help at the position. Solder is a bit of a stretch, considering he is clearly still playing at a starting-caliber level. Adding him might be overkill. But something tells me the Patriots might not be done adding talent at tackle, if they are hedging their bet on Brown.

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So here’s a tackle that may not cost as much as Solder – and therefore might be a better fit. Like Solder, Cannon played many years on the team’s offensive line. Cannon, unlike Solder, played on the right side. So maybe the Patriots decide to bring in Cannon for another year to serve as the third tackle in the rotation.

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The Patriots still need help at inside linebacker. Wagner’s the best one on the market. That might mean he gets too expensive. But you never know: Maybe Wagner would have interest in playing for Bill Belichick.

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Hightower is still a good player, even after appearing to lose a step over the last year. He could return to New England but likely only if he finds no one else wants to pay him. (That’s a real possibility.)

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The 29-year-old is just on the edge of moving away from his prime playing years, but he showed an interesting amount of versatility in 2021, playing both inside and outside linebacker. That’s the kind of multiplicity that Belichick really likes in a player.

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Like Barr, White could help the Patriots replace Kyle Van Noy. White has versatility and youth on his side of him. He has his weaknesses about him but is a starting-quality linebacker.

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Flowers is a free agent after the Lions officially released him a week ago. So long as his medicals di lui are OK, I’d be willing to bet the Patriots will have interest.

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What is Stephon Gilmore’s market looking like? The cornerback is probably asking for too much, whether that’s in years or in dollars. He had wanted a big third contract (after his rookie deal with the Bills and his second deal with the Patriots) and New England didn’t want to pay.

But if he finds that no one wants to pay? Maybe he rejoins the Patriots defense where he was consistently one of the best CBs in the NFL.

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Malcolm Butler, who retired for the 2021 season, is trying to make a comeback and he worked out for the Patriots. So there’s clearly some interest. But Butler didn’t come away with a contract. It will be interesting to see if he joins the group, where he could potentially compete for a CB2 spot.

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He’s a versatile cornerback who can start at both outside corner and slot – even if the slot might be his specialty.

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