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2024 Free Agent Targets for the New England Patriots

We're just days away from the new league year kicking off, and the Patriots have already kept themselves quite busy. Hunter Henry is back for another three years, and the Patriots also recently signed swing tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a one-year pact. And while things are mum for the time being, they seem to be trying to get guys like Michael Onwenu, Kendrick Bourne, and the recently transition-tagged Kyle Dugger locked down as well.

But what about others that they may externally add? They have a boatload of cap space to play around with for the time being, both for 2024 and beyond, and there are some legitimate impact guys available at multiple positions. But for my money, here are some of the external options the Patriots most likely will do due diligence on or players that I think would make sense for them, both high-cost and low-cost.

Free Agent Positional Needs Ranked:

No. 1 - Boundary Wide Reciever

No. 2 - Left Tackle

No. 3 - Interior Defensive Lineman (3/4 Tech)

No. 4 - Veteran Backup Quarterback

No. 5 - Boundary Cornerback

Honorable Mention - Safety with single-high upside

Note: Any player named in italics here is a priority target.

Low End

Noah Brown, WR (Houston Texans)

Projected Market Value Offer: Three Years, $16,865,589

What I'd Offer: Three Years, $15,750,000

There was a report some time ago that said the Patriots would be in on Brown come free agency. The current Houston Texan would be an excellent replacement if they cannot agree on a new deal with Kendrick Bourne. He missed seven games this year but still put up 500 yards in 10 games as a secondary option for C.J. Stroud. He has some inside-outside versatility, mainly playing in tight set formations, but he certainly is a fit as a Z/slot option.

Tyler Huntley, QB (Baltimore Ravens)

Projected Market Value Offer: N/A

What I'd Offer: Three Years, $16,500,000

Now that they have Malik Cunningham in the fold, I could see the Ravens allowing Huntley to walk. The Utah product would be an acceptable backup plan if Jacoby Brissett is option one. His ceiling as a passer is limited, but he has nine starts under his belt and adds a blend of mobility to his game, making things a bit more streamlined should the Patriots draft Jayden Daniels.

Yosh Nijman, OT (Green Bay Packers)

Projected Market Value Offer: N/A

What I'd Offer: Two Years, $15,500,000

Not my first pick for a left tackle solution, but Nijman has a great deal of NFL experience as a primary starter on both sides of the line, as a rotational left tackle, and as a sixth offensive lineman. Something that the Packers love historically, and this applies to the Patriots now via Eliot Wolf, are players who have excellent RAS scores; Nijman put up a 9.8 out of 10 coming into the league out of Virginia Tech.

Middle Ground

Stephon Gilmore, CB (Dallas Cowboys)

Projected Market Value Offer: One Year, $11,164,440

What I'd Offer: One Year, $12,000,000

I think this would be a very popular move. Gilmore has shown over the last two years with the Colts and Cowboys that he still has gas in the tank, and I doubt Dallas, who's in a cap crunch, will be able to afford him on a shorter-term pact. It's hard to say if he would return to this iteration of the Patriots over potentially going to a contender, but this objectively makes a ton of schematic sense. (Since they mention it in the back half of that clip, I'd absolutely take a flyer on Tre'Davious White).

Tyron Smith, OT (Dallas Cowboys)

Projected Market Value Offer: One Year, $7,481,509

What I'd Offer: Two Years, $18,000,000

Here's our first real priority player. Smith, who has had some durability concerns, put together an excellent 2023 campaign in which he secured his fifth All-Pro team selection (third time making Second Team). Like Noah Brown, Smith is another player the Patriots have been reportedly linked to, but his market will probably be significantly bigger. Even with the injury concerns, Smith has been one of the best tackles in the league over the last 15 years. I would not be against overpaying here, especially if the Patriots want a one-year deal.

Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, WR (Arizona Cardinals)

Projected Market Value Offer: Four Years, $59,530,956

What I'd Offer: Three Years, $36,750,000

I didn't hate the Cardinals' gamble of trading for Hollywood Brown two years ago, but things didn't work out as both sides probably intended. Now, potentially days away from being on his third team with just five seasons under his belt, I think the Patriots would make sense for him, assuming Alex Van Pelt wants a burner who can vertically stretch things. He's not my first option, and three years would be my best offer, but if they lose out on someone we get to later, Brown is probably the Patriots' best option at wideout.

Jacoby Brissett, QB (Washington Commanders)

Projected Market Value Offer: N/A

What I'd Offer: Three Years, $22,500,000

I'm not going to spend too much time here since this is a widely expected move, but Brissett would be a perfect bridge option for the Patriots. He had a very solid 2022 under Alex Van Pelt in Cleveland, including an excellent neutral-site outing against Buffalo in Detroit (albeit in a loss). If the Patriots want to take the Packers route and not immediately rush whoever they draft into a starting role, which I'm not against, they could get some competitive outings out of Brissett early on.

High End

Calvin Ridley, WR (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Projected Market Value Offer: Four Years, $70,340,880

What I'd Offer: Four Years, $84,000,000

After serving a year suspension for laying a few parlays with the boys, Calvin Ridley made a very strong return to the NFL in 2023. He was just one of nine receivers in football to put up at least 75 catches, 1000 yards, and eight touchdowns, and that was with multi-week stretches in which he wasn't much of a factor in the Jaguars' game plans.

You might be wondering about the two price tags and their disparity. Mike Evans' recent extension with Tampa and the lack of high-end guys on the market will drive things up for Ridley specifically. I'd also do a three-year deal instead of four if possible, but that might be out of their hands. In any case, The Patriots have to be, at the bare minimum, in on him come next week.

Christian Wilkins, IDL (Miami Dolphins)

Projected Market Value Offer: Four Years, $80,988,580

What I'd Offer: Four Years, $100,000,000

It's been too long for my liking since the last time the Patriots did an AFC East poach. Chris Hogan, Stephon Gilmore, Wes Welker, etc., have all yielded great fruit for them in years past, and Christian Wilkins, a native of Springfield, Mass, would be a signing on the level of those latter two. As I began writing this section, the Ravens gave Justin Madubuike a market-resetting deal worth nearly 25 million annually, which changes things for interior defensive linemen moving forward.

I think the Patriots would have to hit at least the 24 million a year range to be competitive, and to me, Wilkins should be their top priority and would be well worth it. He has some scheme familiarity with three years playing under Brian Flores and has Massachusetts ties, which will probably be a selling point, as will the opportunity to play on a defensive front featuring himself, Christian Barmore, and Matt Judon at the bare minimum. On pass rush downs, you wouldn't be able to double all three of them. Steep price tag, yes, but this is the exact kind of move a rebuilding team shouldn't be afraid to make. Assuming it makes sense, you must acquire impact talent whenever you can, and Wilkost certainly does.

Jonah Williams, OT (Cincinnati Bengals)

Projected Market Value Offer: Four Years, $43,438,044

What I'd Offer: Two Years, $18,000,000

Should the Patriots miss out on Tyron Smith, their next best option would be Williams, who spent this last year as the Bengals' right tackle. The projected money and the fact the Bengals are letting him hit the open market should tell you a lot, but there's not a ton out there on the tackle market. If it comes down to Williams vs. Smith, I'm taking the latter 100 times out of 100, and I wouldn't blame the Patriots if they wouldn't want to pull the trigger on a deal here. Either way, it's nice to have options.

Chris Jones, IDL (Kansas City Chiefs)

Projected Market Value Offer: Three Years, $85,450,844

What I'd Offer: Four Years, $108,000,000

I certainly believe Chris Jones would like to continue competing for Super B. Still, there's no denying the Pats' ability to outspend just about every other team in the league, and their strong defense isn't their worst selling point. I don't believe the Patriots would spend over 30 million a year on average for a non-quarterback since that doesn't feel like their MO, but if they want Jones, I would feel good enough giving him an extra year if that means you could get him at a few million less per year. Although I believe Wilkins is a more realistic option, adding a proven Champion and winner like Jones to the Patriots would be a franchise-altering move. The only guy better in between the edges is the best defensive football player I've ever seen (Aaron Donald, in case you were wondering).

Justin Simmons, SAF (Denver Broncos)

Projected Market Value Offer: Two Years, $22,209,860

What I'd Offer: Two Years, $22,500,000

I want to preface this by saying I'd only be in on Simmons if and only if the Patriots lose Kyle Dugger. At that point, Simmons would be literally as good a shorter-term back-end presence as the Patriots could hope for, even if he's a bit older (he turned 30 last November). He has a ton of versatility for the position, which the Patriots value a ton, has unreal instincts, and would probably be their best cover safety the second he (hypothetically) signs. There's no guarantee he's even on the market by the time we leave the weekend, but some food for thought.

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