Patriots Making A Splash
I guess 7-9 didn’t sit very well with Bill Belichick. I wasn’t so sure after he re-signed Cam Newton last week but he just went out today and had the most aggressive and productive day one of free agency he’s had in his 21 years in New England.
Was I hopeful that he would do something like this? Yes. Was I skeptical that he would actually do it? Yes.
The Patriots went into free agency with more available cap space than they’ve ever had under Belichick and boy did they make the most of it. Signing two premium free agents in TE Jonnu Smith and OLB/DE Matt Judon. While also signed a number of second tier free agents to fill out the roster such as WR Nelson Agholor, CB Jalen Mills and DT Davon Godchaux. The Patriots brought in some great players and filled some significant holes in the process.
But maybe the best part about today was that it showed the Patriots had a plan. They have been working on this for weeks, if not months. You don’t sign six, seven, eight players on the first day of free agency, some of which in the top of the market, just on a whim. They identified players that fit a need but also fit the system. Instead of waiting until the second wave of free agency like they usually do, they came out swinging. Will all these players work out? Probably not but they had a plan, identify players, aggressively target those players and that’s all you can ask for. Belichick and the Patriots had a few extra weeks, after missing the playoffs, to prepare for this offseason and so far it appears they spent their time wisely.
Adding Jonnu Smith was huge, the Patriots desperately needed a legit TE in this offense. Asiasi was a nice attempt in round 3 of last years draft but he clearly isn’t going to cut it. Smith adds explosiveness to the offense, is great after the catch and a big time red zone target. He can be used in all different kinds of formations. He’s going to add a dimension to the Patriots offense we haven’t seen in years.
Matt Judon is an elite defender that the Patriots need in the front 7. He’s a versatile edge defender who can play the run and get after the QB. He fits the mold of your typical Patriots OLB, see McGinest, Vrabel, Colvin, etc. He’s improved every year he’s been in the league, coming off back to back pro bowl appearances. I think Judon is just stretching the surface.
I was hoping the Patriots would’ve targeted a bigger name receiver. Someone like Golladay, Smith-Schuster or Curtis Samuel but Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne aren’t bad fall back options. Bourne is the one I’m most excited about. I had him on my free agent target list. He can play outside and in the slot. Is known for picking up first downs and being a reliable red zone target. He’s got a lot of upside and in the right system could be a very good wide receiver.
It feels like the Patriots are still far from done and I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next and how this team ultimately turns out. Obviously the QB position is still a major concern. If Cam Newton is still this teams QB in 2021, all these signing do is make them a fringe wildcard team. If the Patriots want to be a serious playoff contender they still need to improve the QB position but today was a good start in getting the Patriots back on track.
The Patriots still have work ahead but they are a much better team today then they were at the end of last season. Bill Belichick seems as focused and determined as ever and that’s great news for Patriots fans. He is not going to let what happened in 2020, happen again in 2021.