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Patriots needs, players to target in 2023 NFL free agency

We go over the New England Patriots' top positional needs in free agency and some players they may try to sign this offseason.

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots

The New England Patriots continued muddling along last season. They finished with an 8-9 record, missing the playoffs for the second time in their last three seasons. Like most mediocre teams, the Patriots weren’t much fun to watch last year, and haven’t been for a while.

While the team has needs on both sides of the ball, the lackluster offense is going to get most of the attention this spring. Outside of a pair of solid running backs and one playmaker in Jakobi Meyers, the Patriots didn’t have much to keep opposing defenses on their toes. That could change with Bill O’Brien running the offense once again, but he’s still going to need better parts to work with.

On the other side of the ball, New England’s defense was capable, even ranking fourth in sacks for the season. But opponents didn’t have a tough time finding the end zone, scoring 28 times through the air, ranking them sixth from the bottom. The rushing defense was a top-10 unit, but in a division like the AFC East with high-flying offenses like the Bills and Dolphins (even the Jets have the potential to get a lot better), they’re going to need to get better at bottling up opposing passing games.

The good news for the Patriots is that they’ll have plenty of money to work with if they choose to be active in free agency. New England is currently projected to have more than $32.4 million in cap space this year.

New England Patriots free agency preview

Positional needs:

Offensive tackle

Wide receiver



Defensive tackle

Players to target

The Patriots would be wise to try and hang on to free-agent wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. He’s their only legitimate playmaking threat. Meyers is currently projected to be the top receiver on the free agent market this year, so his new contract isn’t going to come cheap. Even so, Meyers still isn’t a true No. 1 wide receiver, and the Patriots would be advised to move on from spare parts like Nelson Agholor and the shell of DeVante Parker.

The free agent market doesn’t have much to offer in the way of No. 1 receivers. But if the Patriots do want to add some help via that route, they could look at someone like DJ Chark. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a trade for a blue-chip receiver later in the offseason either.

New England’s offensive tackles really struggled last season. They tried to get by with Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn, but those two gave up a lot in the way of sacks and pressures. Wynn even got benched for a time, before suffering a season-ending foot injury. Wynn’s a free agent this year, and the Patriots would be best served to let him walk. Cutting Brown could save them $11 million in cap space.

Of course, they have to fill those positions. It’s hard to imagine the Chiefs letting Orlando Brown leave, but if they do, New England should be all in. Other free agent tackles who could be good additions include Mike McGlinchey, Jawaan Taylor, and Kaleb McGary.

Cornerback Jonathan Jones is headed to free agency. The Patriots could re-sign him, keeping him alongside Jalen Mills, or they could let him go and chase a bigger fish. New England certainly has the cap space to sign someone like Jamel Dean from the Buccaneers. With Myles Bryant and Joejuan Williams also ticketed for free agency, the Patriots are going to need to bring in depth at the position too.

Another position where the Patriots could make a splashy move in free agency is landing a pass rusher. They could try and take a flyer on someone like Marcus Davenport from the Saints, who’ll be looking to bounce back after an injury-riddled season. There’s Jadeveon Clowney, who could make for some interesting chemistry with Bill Belichick, or a younger pass rusher like Charles Omenihu.

With Mac Jones under contract for two more years, the Patriots don’t necessarily need a quarterback but don’t be surprised to see New England’s name popping up in the rumor mill around some of the big names who could be on the market this offseason. Could Jimmy Garoppolo make it back? Could they make a play for Derek Carr or even Daniel Jones, if the Giants let him go, which seems unlikely? If the Patriots do want to go this route, they’d best advise not to settle for someone who’s only going to be a marginal upgrade over Jones.