Last year was something of an outlier for the Patriots when it came to free agency and the start of the new NFL year as the Pats threw a bunch of money at free agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore and traded for big-name wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This March, don’t expect quite as many fireworks.
Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman already have new homes (the Rams and the 49ers, respectively) – so it looks like the Patriots will be in the market for less heralded players on the open market. Here is a look at several players that are likely on Bill Belichick’s revised wish list.
Shane Vereen, RB (Giants)
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Bringing back Vereen on short money instead of re-signing Dion Lewis to a hefty deal makes a ton of sense for the Patriots. Vereen is still just 29-years-old and remains one of the top pass-catching backs in the NFL. He had 44 catches for 253 yards during the Giants’ dreadful season last year, and had three straight 400-plus yard receiving seasons from 2013-15 with the Pats and Giants.
Vereen’s last game as a member of the Patriots was Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle and he came up huge with a team-leading 11 catches.
Tyler Eifert, TE (Bengals)
Teams may be hesitant to sign Eifert in free agency given his injury history. If that’s the case, then the Patriots would gladly scoop him up with the low-ball deal. The 27-year-old Eifert had 13 touchdowns during his last healthy season and would complement Rob Gronkowski beautifully. With Martellus Bennett having been released and Dwayne Allen likely getting the boot soon – the Pats will be in the market for a second tight end.
Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams)
Adding Johnson would instantly give the Patriots one of – if not the best cornerback duo in the league with Gilmore already on board. The problem here is the amount of money Johnson will demand, which is expected to be nearly $15 million per year. Likely too pricey for the relatively cash-strapped Pats, but stranger things have happened.
Preston Brown, LB (Bills)
Brown is routinely among the NFL leaders in tackles (he led the league in 2017) and is very strong in pass coverage. Given that the Pats’ pass coverage from the linebacker position was among the worst in the league this past season, Brown should absolutely garner interest from Belichick.