PATRIOT 2021 FREE AGENCY SPENDING BONANZA
HOW IS IT WORKING OUT?
As we all are aware the Patriots spent $159.6 million in guaranteed money on free agents this year. An excess of cash and an 8% reduction in the salary cap made it possible for the Patriots to acquire players more players in their prime less competition than normal for their services. Building a team through free agency rarely works and even the Patriots owner acknowledged that the Patriots used to laugh at teams that took this approach and that some poor drafts made this necessary one-time thing. I thought it would be interesting to see how these free agents are doing and trying to decide who is playing up to the money spent on him. I am only listing the guaranteed salary amounts
Trent Brown OT – 1 year $7.6M Grade = incomplete: Due to injury Brown has only played in 3 games this season so far. Outlook – still worth it because under $8M is cheap for a good RT and they need him.
Jonnu Smith, tight end (Titans) – 5 years $31.3M Grade D+: Smith has missed time and frankly has done little to justify this expenditure so far. That said, there was a Jonu Smith sighting in week 12. Outlook – His blocking has added some value, but the dollars spent are too high. The team needs to get him more involved in the offense.
Matthew Judon, linebacker (Ravens) – 4 years $32M Grade A+: Judon is the best player on the defense by far and has brought a high level of intensity. Outlook – I am very high on this guy. Please stay healthy.
Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle (Dolphins) – 2 years $9M Grade B: Godchaux is a good rotation player but overpaid for the third best DT on the team. Outlook – Godchaux adds value and injury insurance at a price.
Jalen Mills, defensive back (Eagles) – 4 years $9M Grade B+: Mills was projected as a slot corner or safety but with no Gilmore and Jonathan Jones on IR for the year Mills has been thrust into the 2nd Corner roll where he has done surprisingly well. Outlook – Patriots can get out of this contract cheap after 2022 but based on how Mills is playing $6.6 per year for two more years may seem like a bargain.
Hunter Henry, tight end (Chargers) – 3 years $25M Grade B: When you lose Gronk and then draft TEs poorly you must pay, and the Patriots did. Henry has become a favorite red zone target for Mac Jones. Henry leads all other TEs with 7 TDs this season. Outlook- Henry has become the #1 TE for the team and if he can stay healthy will continue to contribute.
Kendrick Bourne, wide receiver (49ers) – 3 years $7.25M Grade A-: Bourne has added speed and jet sweep ability to the team and averages 14.8 yards per reception. Outlook – Patriots have a decision to make before 2022. Cut Bourne and pay $2.8M in dead cap or agree to keep paying him $6M per year for two more years. Right now, keeping him looks like the smarter option.
Nelson Agholor, wide receiver (Raiders) – 2 years $16M Grade C-: If Agholor was making less money his grade might be higher, but that kind of dough calls for more production. Outlook – the contract was backloaded a bit into 2022 so the buyout only saves about $5M in cap space. I would expect an extension or a trade.
Ted Karras, offensive lineman (Dolphins) – 1 year $3M Grade A-: Karras was signed as a reserve center and has been starting at guard most of the season at first due to injury but then outright won the job. Outlook – $3M for a starting guard who can also play center? VALUE.
Kyle Van Noy, linebacker (Dolphins) – 2 years $6M Grade B+: Van Noy is very good for the Patriots in the role he is cast at the right price. Outlook – I expect the Patriots to pick up the 2 nd year which would make this a 2 year $12M contract because they would only save $3.5M by releasing him after 2021.
Henry Anderson, defensive tackle (Jets) – 2 years $3M Grade D-: Anderson did not do much in limited action for the Patriots before going on IR. Outlook – I don’t expect to see Anderson with the team in 2022.
David Andrews, Center (Patriots) – 4 years $6.5M Grade A: Andrews is the only lineman to play in every game this season. He is more than solid, excellent at pulling and a little crazy. Outlook – I would expect the 29-year-old to be with the Patriots for all 4 years of this contract totaling $19M barring injury
Deaitrich Wise, DE (Patriots) – 4 years $10M Grade C-: Okay, I just don’t get this one. Wise is an athletic guy who makes plays occasionally and also commits costly penalties. Outlook – I expect the Patriots to take the potential out after 2022.
Cam Newton, QB (Patriots) – $3.6M before cutting him Grade F.: Outlook – Cam is the Panthers problem now. I hope he does well there.