New England Patriots: 3 early free agent targets for 2022 NFL offseason
The 2021 NFL season saw the reemergence of the New England Patriots with their return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. Their postseason campaign might have ended early, but there’s no denying the Patriots improved by leaps and bounds as compared to the 2020 season. Given their huge development, Bill Belichick must ensure he puts more talent around Mac Jones in order to get to a higher level in 2022.
However, it certainly won’t be an easy task, because the Patriots have a long list of impending free agents on their team for the upcoming 2022 NFL offseason. New England must improve on both sides of the ball in order to become a Super Bowl contender again, as the roster was exposed in the ugly Wild Card loss to the Buffalo Bills. In an effort to improve, the Patriots will have to restructure several contracts in order to retain their key guys while also adding more pieces for next season.
With that said, let’s take a look at three free agents the Patriots must target for the 2022 NFL offseason.
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New England Patriots 2022 Free Agent Targets
3. Jayon Brown
The Patriots need more youth, quickness, and athleticism at the linebacker position with their old reliable in Dont’a Hightower starting to slow down a bit. Beyond a decision to re-sign Ja’Whaun Bentley, the front office can also take a look at Tennessee Titans linebacker Jayon Brown as a potential target.
Brown previously had a career season back in 2019 in which he notched a personal-best 117 tackles for the team. The UCLA product didn’t get much buzz in last year’s free agency, which led him to settle on a one-year, $5 million deal with the Titans instead. In the 2021 season, he notched 55 combined tackles, two passes defended, and an interception in just 10 games played due to a knee injury.
Despite his limited production, Brown is still a talented defender who can find ways to contribute in the right circumstances. In the upcoming offseason, Brown is expected to sign another one-year bargain deal in order to regain his momentum and confidence on the field.
With the Patriots looking to save money, the 26-year-old is surely an intriguing target to put on their radar in the months to come.
2. Randy Gregory
The Patriots’ defense already has a Pro Bowl-caliber player in linebacker Matthew Judon, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another strong defender in defensive end Randy Gregory. He previously inked a one-year, $1.045 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys as a prove-it deal after getting reinstated from suspension.
Gregory played well beyond the paycheck, managing to be productive despite only appearing in 12 games. In fact, his numbers saw an increase, as he tallied 19 combined tackles, 17 QB hits, and 6.0 sacks along with an interception for the 2021 season.
Given his production in such a limited amount of time, Gregory will attract a ton of interest in the offseason, especially from a Patriots side that is looking to improve on the defensive end. Still at 29 years of age, the Nebraska talent would be an intriguing talent to add for New England and could also be a foundational piece for them to build upon moving forward.
Gregory did just undergo knee surgery, but he’s expected to be ready to go for work during the 2022 NFL offseason.
1. Allen Robinson
On the offensive side, the Patriots are also looking to add depth in their receiving corps, and Allen Robinson could very well fit right into the picture. The 28-year-old struggled in the 2021 season by finishing with just 410 receiving yards on 38 catches and a TD in 12 appearances for the rebuilding Chicago Bears.
Despite his struggles in 2021, Robinson’s level of talent shouldn’t even be in question, given that he went over 1,000 yards in 2019 and 2020 with Chicago. However, he needs to find a team that is willing to put their complete trust in him and allow him to flourish as one of the top options in their passing game.
After failing to agree on a long-term extension with the Bears, Robinson will surely explore his options, and the Patriots might be an intriguing choice for him in the upcoming offseason. For instance, the team is currently looking to upgrade the quality of their receivers in order to have a more dynamic offensive attack in place for the next season.
Additionally, the presence of Mac Jones, who showed a ton of promise in his rookie season, is appealing for a talent like Robinson. Certainly enough, the Michigan native needs a change in scenery, so Foxborough might just be the place where he can potentially rejuvenate his career moving forward.