Free Agents Patriots Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 10, 2021

Free Agents Patriots Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    So far this offseason, the New England Patriots have greatly overhauled their roster following a disappointing 2020 season. They signed a number of big-name free agents early, then they added some young talent during the 2021 NFL draft, including their potential future franchise quarterback, Mac Jones.

    It's clear that the Pats may not be looking to rebuild and will be trying to immediately get back to the playoffs this upcoming season. There are more playmakers on New England's offense and a bunch of new impact players on defense for the upcoming season.

    But the Pats still have $15.97 million in available cap space (per Over the Cap), and there are some low-risk veterans still on the free-agent market who could be intriguing fits in New England. Perhaps the Patriots still have a few more moves to make this offseason.

    Here's a look at three free agents who the Pats should still consider signing this offseason.

Golden Tate, WR

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    Larry Maurer/Associated Press

    New England has already signed wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne during free agency, and it still has Jakobi Meyers, who will likely have a big role. But the Patriots' receiving corps could still get better. They didn't address the position in the draft until the seventh round, when they took UCF's Tre Nixon.

    The addition of one more veteran playmaker could help New England's quarterback (whether that's Jones or Cam Newton) produce better results than Newton had in 2020. And Tate could be a low-risk, high-reward signing.

    Tate's numbers have dipped the past few years and had 35 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games for the New York Giants last season. But he could still have a strong season or two in him. And after Julian Edelman retired, the Pats may have an opening for a receiver like Tate.

    If Tate can't get things going early in 2021, then New England could part ways with the veteran. But it seems like it would be worth taking a chance on Tate and seeing if he can rejuvenate his career with an offensive unit that has greatly improved this offseason.

Kwon Alexander, LB

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Here's another player looking to get his career back on track. However, Alexander is much younger at 26. But the linebacker has been kept off the field due to injuries, so he'll need to stay healthy if he's going to contribute to a team in 2021.

    Alexander has been limited to 26 games over the past three seasons, and he's only played more than 12 games in a season once during his six-year NFL career. In 2020, he had 57 tackles and one sack in 12 games between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints.

    A former Pro Bowler who posted big numbers early in his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Alexander can still be an impact player. Perhaps a key to him staying healthy could be going to a team with decent linebacker depth where he could be more of a role player.

    The Patriots have solid depth, but it can't hurt to have too many linebackers to rotate into their 4-3 defense. 

Mitchell Schwartz, OT

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    The Pats don't have a ton of depth at the tackle positions, although it's clear that Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown are set to be the starters. Brown, who was acquired in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this offseason, is looking to have a bounce-back year after being limited to five games due to injury in 2020.

    Wynn has also dealt with injuries during his first two NFL seasons, playing 18 games over that stretch. So New England may still want to sign a tackle who could fill in at either spot and provide the team with better depth on the offensive line.

    Schwartz could fill that role and also battle both Wynn and Brown for playing time, perhaps making them all better due to having some competition. The 31-year-old Schwartz never missed a game during his first eight NFL seasons, but he was limited to six with the Kansas City Chiefs last year due to injury, so he also has a bit to prove this upcoming season.

    However, that also means Schwartz could be an affordable signing. And considering the team's current state of depth up front, it may be a smart move to consider.