Entering the offseason, the New England Patriots must determine which positions they can revamp with new personnel as well as which free agents to re-sign.
The NFL league year kicks off on March 15, and the Patriots are already making savvy moves in anticipation of the increased cap space.
The Patriots couldn’t afford to cut tight end Jonnu Smith, but they did manage to offload him to the Atlanta Falcons for a seventh-round pick. New England made the right move in this situation, getting as much as they possibly could with regaining $4.4 million in cap space.
Even though the Patriots are secure at the tight end position with Hunter Henry, there are several other significant holes on the roster that could be challenging to fill. Additionally, the Patriots could always make a mistake the way they did with Smith, signing a big-name player in free agency that simply doesn’t work out.
Here are three moves the Patriots will have to avoid this offseason if they want to continue rebuilding in the right direction.
3. Bring in a splashy wide receiver that doesn’t fit their scheme
The primary need in New England, according to Patriots media, has become a cliché in the Bill Belichick era: the Patriots could always use an upgrade at wide receiver.
Mac Jones could use the help as he develops, and Belichick did try to address that in last year’s draft by taking Tyquan Thornton. Still, it was the run game that flourished last season, not the passing game. This makes it seem impossible to ignore the siren song of free agency, with players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry available.
Belichick has offered prove-it contracts to players like Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon, but his most successful splash for a big-name receiver was trading for Randy Moss. As of right now, the Patriots would be better sticking with Jakobi Meyers rather than trading for DeAndre Hopkins, for example.
As unlikely as the Hopkins trade already was, it’s also been widely overlooked that bringing Hopkins to New England would mean reuniting him with Bill O’Brien, which didn’t go swimmingly the first time.
Rather than take a gamble on someone who may not fit, the Patriots should be more focused on bringing back Jakobi Meyers, who has successfully taken the mantle from Julian Edelman as the Patriots’ do-it-all, dependable slot receiver.
The Patriots always seem like they could use a better receiver, but Belichick knows better than to take a gamble on someone who won’t fit their scheme.