Advertisement

25 best free agent targets for the Patriots in 2024

The New England Patriots are expected to be aggressive in free agency this offseason in an effort to fill multiple holes on their roster.

It’s no secret that the onus for the 4-13 finish in 2023 falls predominantly on the offensive struggles. There’s a need to fill at every offensive position for New England, most notably at quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle.

However, don’t think for one second that the defense will go ignored. That unit was one of the best in the NFL last season, and it kept the team in games that would have otherwise turned into blowouts.

If the Patriots hope to remain competitive in 2024, they’ll need to continue adding defensive playmakers to keep games close. In no particular order, here are the 25 best potential free agent targets for the Patriots:

QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots could pass on drafting a rookie signal-caller in favor of drafting Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. If that’s the case, they’ll need a veteran quarterback to throw him the ball. There are no better options out there in that scenario than Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

EDGE Josh Allen, Jaguars

Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, a premier pass-rusher isn’t at the top of the offseason to-do list, but it’s always on the list in any roster building scenario. Josh Allen is a game-wrecker that would instantly improve the Patriots’ already talented defensive front.

EDGE Anfernee Jennings, Patriots

Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Anfernee Jennings came up huge for the Patriots in the 2023 season after Matthew Judon went down with a season-ending injury. It only makes sense for him to once again be in the mix in 2024 and beyond.

He’s only 26 years old, and he appears to be entering the prime of his career. This would be a solid signing that wouldn’t break the bank for the Patriots.

CB L'Jarius Sneed, Chiefs

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Gonzalez teased shutdown cornerback potential in his rookie season. Imagine pairing him with L’Jarius Sneed, who played a big role in the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl run. They could form one of the best defensive backfield duos in the NFL.

EDGE Danielle Hunter, Vikings

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Danielle Hunter is every bit as scary as he looks as a sack artist. He racked up 16.5 sacks on opposing quarterbacks last season, which should make him well sought after in free agency. At the very least, the Patriots should pick up the phone and have a conversation.

WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Mike Evans already won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady, and he might be content enough to stay in Tampa Bay and finish up his career. But if he’s willing to make a move, he would fill a massive void for the Patriots as a proven elite No. 1 receiving option.

CB Jaylon Johnson, Bears

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Defense is still the calling card for the Patriots, and the team could lean into that by going out and signing a talented playmaker like Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. There is a bunch of young, unproven talent on the Patriots’ roster at the position. Johnson can be a difference-maker as a 24-year-old defensive back coming off an All-Pro season.

WR Michael Pittman Jr., Colts

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots can’t afford to miss out on a receiver, which instantly makes Michael Pittman Jr. a prime target for the team in free agency. Pittman put up superstar numbers last season catching passes from Gardner Minshew. He could boost the Patriots’ offense in a major way.

OT Tyron Smith, Cowboys

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyron Smith has been one of the best tackles in the NFL for the last decade. He’s still a force to deal with on the offensive front at 33 years old. A team that dealt with as many protection issues as the Patriots did last season could use an enforcer like Smith on the roster.

EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Texans

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Greenard is coming off a breakout season with 12.5 sacks for the Texans. If the Patriots are looking to spend money on young playmakers with exceptional potential to grow with the team, they should start making a habit of signing players like Greenard.

WR Calvin Ridley, Jaguars

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Calvin Ridley wouldn’t cost as much as Michael Pittman Jr. most likely, but he’s also a bit longer in the tooth. So they’d need to make another move in free agency or the draft to solidify the receiver position. With that said, Ridley is still capable of dominating in stretches. He’s the sort of big-bodied receiving target that could start to turn the tide in New England.

OL Mike Onwenu, Patriots

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Mike Onwenu’s name should be circled in red at the top of the Patriots’ free agency checklist. The starting offensive lineman played at both guard and tackle for the team in 2023. It’s a luxury to have a player capable of switching up on the fly and still being as successful as Onwenu was for the Patriots last season.

CB Kendall Fuller, Commanders

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Kendall Fuller has the ability to line up in multiple spots. He’s a Bill Belichick kind of player—smart, instinctual and versatile. Those players tend to do very well in New England.

S Kyle Dugger, Patriots

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Re-signing Kyle Dugger probably isn’t as high of a priority as extending Mike Onwenu, but it should be on the to-do list for the Patriots. Dugger stepped up as a leader in the defensive backfield after the team lost Devin McCourty. Losing two major contributors at safety in back-to-back seasons wouldn’t be a good thing.

WR Marquise Brown, Cardinals

Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Marquise Brown’s production has steadily declined, but at only 26 years old, there’s still hope he can snap back into a 1,000-yard receiver. Even if he never reaches that level of production, he could still provide an effective receiving target for whoever is under center for the Patriots at quarterback.

QB Jacoby Brissett, Commanders

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A reunion with Jacoby Brissett would make sense if the Patriots are considering going down the veteran quarterback route. It wouldn’t be the most exciting option for fans, but it would allow the team to fill out the roster in other areas.

QB Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Baker Mayfield experienced a serious resurgence in Tampa Bay, and he’s hitting the open market at the perfect time to cash in. The intrigue with this potential signing is the fact that Mayfield is only 28 years old and experienced enough to compete right out of the gates.

EDGE Chase Young, 49ers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Young was a nightmare for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes at Super Bowl LVIII. If anything, he proved that he’s still capable of being one of the premier pass-rushers in the league. At only 24 years old, he could become one of the cornerstones of the Patriots defense.

EDGE Za'Darius Smith, Browns

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Who wouldn’t want to see Za’Darius Smith and Matthew Judon on the same team together? It would be just as much fun on the field as it would be off the field. The two veterans together would be a handful to deal with for opposing offenses.

TE Dalton Schultz, Texans

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots would be fine with re-signing Hunter Henry to a new deal, but then again, Dalton Schultz is a younger option with similar production. Tight end has suddenly become a position of need in New England with none of their main roster options under contract in 2024.

EDGE Andrew Van Ginkel, Dolphins

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Van Ginkel will probably fly under the radar in free agency, but his ridiculous effort as a pass-rusher is hard to miss on a football field. This is exactly the kind of defensive playmaker every team needs on their roster.

EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, Ravens

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney is at that point of his career where he’s bouncing around the league. Even at age 31, he’s still a physical phenomenon with the ability to overpower offensive protections. He tied a career-high 9.5 sacks with the Ravens last season.

TE Hunter Henry, Patriots

Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Hunter Henry was a team captain and the Patriots’ receiving touchdowns leader in 2023. While the team should aim to get younger at tight end, they could also benefit greatly from Henry returning for another season. He could serve as a solid safety blanket for a young quarterback.

OT Trent Brown, Patriots

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Trent Brown ship has probably sailed in New England, but given the pitiful state of their tackle position, they’d probably listen if he showed any interest in returning in 2024. When Brown is healthy and on his game, he’s still one of the better left tackles in the entire NFL.

WR Curtis Samuel, Commanders

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Curtis Samuel had more receiving yards than every Patriots receiver, even while playing second fiddle to Terry McLaurin in 2023. He isn’t a No. 1 receiving option, but he’s a reliable veteran playmaker that could help the offense.

[lawrence-auto-related count=3]

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire