5 Best Remaining Options for Patriots to Choose From in Free Agency
With Week 2 of NFL Free Agency action about to wrap up, the New England Patriots have several holes to fill still and currently have no money to work with. However, they will surely free up some space in the near future, so when they do decide to do that they will be signing a player or two from the remaining free agency pool.
While all of the top-market talent is now gone, there are several free-agent players that could provide value and/or depth to the Patriots' roster. Let's look at five of the best remaining options for New England to choose from in free agency, listed in order from worst to first.
5) DE Vinny Curry
With Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins now gone, there Patriots are lacking an edge presence in the post-Tom Brady era. New England will likely fill the edge cheaply, and could even do it via the draft. However, if they decided to dip into free agency to fill that hole, they could try and sign former Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry.
At age-31, Curry is coming off a one-year, $2.25 million deal with Philadelphia. He recorded 20 tackles, five sacks, five tackles for loss and earned a strong 81.7 pass rush grade from PFF last season. Curry's stat sheet - much like it has been over his eight-year career - will never jump off the page. But he is nevertheless effective.
If the Patriots were to sign Curry they are getting a cheap, experienced, productive pass rusher.
4) DE Jabaal Sheard
If adding a former Patriot is something New England wants to do this offseason, then signing Jabaal Sheard is one the best options remaining.
Sheard played with the Patriots from 2015-2016 and then departed for the Colts, who gave him a three-year $25 million contract. He never quite lived up to his paycheck in Indy, earning a 61.2 overall PFF grade in 2019, which ranked 81st amongst all linebackers.
Now that Sheard - at age-30 - is looking for the fourth home of his career, he will likely demand a cheaper contract, which could put him and New England in line for a reunion.
If the Patriots signed him, they could get similar production from him similar to his two-year stint with the team in which he recorded 13 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 22 QB hits and four forced fumbles. Pair that with a cheap contract and Sheard returning to New England makes plenty of sense.
3) WR Taylor Gabriel
New England still needs to add some productive pass-catchers to their lineup, and unfortunately for them, there aren't a lot left. So, if the Patriots want to go cheap and find someone that at the very least can compete during the summer, former Bears receiver Taylor Gabriel might be the man for the job.
After a career-year in 2018 with Chicago in which he caught 67 passes for 688 yards, Gabriel's production took a big dip in 2019 when he only caught 29 passes for 353 yards. At 29 years old, Gabriel is likely looking at a pay cut in 2020, as he didn't live up to the two-year, $14 million deal he signed with the Bears in 2018.
If he were to join the six-time Super Bowl champions, Gabriel would likely fill the Phillip Dorsett-type role in the Patriots offense, which would have him battling with newly-signed receiver Damiere Byrd for that role during training camp and the preseason.
Bill Belichick loves competition at each position, so signing Gabriel would be a smart move.
2) TE Jordan Reed
For the first time in his career it looks like Jordan Reed won't be a part of the Redskins organization moving forward.
The veteran tight end has had his fair share of injuries in recent years, forcing him to miss 19 games between 2016-2018 and the entire 2019 season, which is why Washington appears to be moving on from the former pro bowler. Reed - at 29 years old - has a chance to shift his narrative a bit by switching teams and starting fresh. So who better to start fresh with than the tight-end friendly Patriots?
New England has been craving a tight end who can attack downfield and in between the seams since Rob Gronkowski retired last offseason. Reed needs to prove he can still be a consistent contributor in the NFL, and New England needs a talented tight end. If the Patriots bring in Reed under a cheap contract that is ladened with incentives for performance, it would be a perfect pairing for both parties.
1) TE Delanie Walker
After a very strong run with the Titans in which Delanie Walker had at least 800 receiving yards in every single season between 2014-2017, Walked was placed on IR and missed most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Now at 35 years old, Walker is out to prove that he has enough juice left in his tank to produce for at least one more season. If the Patriots are looking to acquire another tight end via free agency, grabbing another aging veteran - like they did with Benjamin Watson last offseason - may be their best option. Walker fits that mold to a tee.
Although he is nothing more than a temporary replacement at the position, Walker would bring experience and skill to the tight end room, which currently has Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo as the top dogs on the depth chart. If Walker could at the very least provide situational value for New England, it would go a long way for a team that felt the effects of not having an All-Pro tight end in their lineup last season.