The New England Patriots were the most active team in free agency as they set about to reverse course after their uncharacteristic non-playoff season of 2020.
The Patriots' flurry of free agency moves was described as "above average" by Pro Football Focus, but we now break it down by position to determine how much better or worse — or something in between — they are now than after the end of last season.
Offseason moves: Re-signed Cam Newton ... Brian Hoyer became an unrestricted free agent (still unsigned)
Summary: Given that they signed Newton to a one-year contract for a relatively modest sum, it's pretty clear the Patriots might not be done tweaking the quarterback position in the offseason. For now, it's pretty much a wash from last year because Hoyer is simply a serviceable backup who can be replaced or even re-signed if it comes to that.
Offseason moves: Re-signed James White ... Rex Burkhead became an unrestricted free agent (still unsigned)
Summary: Getting White back was big for the Patriots because of what he can do as a receiver out of the backfield. The Pats also have enough depth at the position with Damien Harris and Sony Michel that losing Burkhead wouldn't be a major deal.
Offseason moves: Signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne as unrestricted free agents ... Released Marqise Lee ... Lost Donte Moncrief as a UFA ... Damiere Byrd became a UFA ... Declined to tender Quincy Adeboyejo as an exclusive-rights free agent.
Summary: This was a major problem area for the Patriots and the additions of Agholor and Bourne clearly will help, though to what extent remains to be seen. Former first-round pick N'Keal Harry has been the subject of trade rumors and the possibility certainly exists that the Patriots could select a wide receiver early in the 2021 draft, so this remains a position in flux.
Offseason moves: Signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith as unrestricted free agents ... Traded Ryan Izzo to the Houston Texans.
Summary: With two quick moves, the Patriots turned a unit that was the worst in the NFL into one that belongs in the conversation for the best. New England accomplished this by getting the top two tight ends on the free agent market.
Verdict: Much better
Offseason moves: Re-signed center David Andrews ... Re-signed center/guard Marcus Martin ... Signed center Ted Karras as an unrestricted free agent ... Acquired Trent Brown in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders ... Traded Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans ... Tackle Jermaine Eluemunor became an unrestricted free agent ... Lost guard Joe Thuney as an unrestricted free agent.
Summary: Thuney probably was the Patriots' best offensive lineman, so losing him hurts. Getting Brown back from the Raiders makes up for saying goodbye to Cannon after he opted out of the 2020 season. The biggest key in the offseason for the Patriots here was being able to retain Andrews as a UFA after they signed Karras one year after he left to join the Miami Dolphins. The Pats have the potential for one of the best offensive lines in the NFL if everybody can stay healthy, but this also was a good group last year.