The New England Patriots are riding the shine of five straight conference championships, including two Super Bowl appearances and one victory, and are the top option for veterans that are looking for one last chance at a(nother) ring.
Greg Bedard, one of the most respected writers in the business, compiled a list of the top 100 free agents in the NFL and where they would be a best fit for the 2016 season. While only one member of the Patriots made the list (woohoo!), New England remained a good landing spot for some of the more intriguing prospects in free agency.
Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was the only member of the team to make the list, coming in at 63rd, and his best fit team was with the Bears. Chicago has a lot of cap space and Hicks was drafted by the Bears current general manager Ryan Pace, while Pace was with the Saints. If the two teams enter a bidding war, it's clear that Chicago would win.
It could be worse. The Broncos feature five players in the top 60, which means that Denver is going to see a sharp drop in production moving forward. The Dolphins have four in the top 50 and the Jets have two in the top 10. Comparatively, the Patriots are sitting pretty.
Bears running back Matt Forte (57th on the list) was best fit with the Patriots as he can run, catch, and block and could immediately contribute out of the Patriots backfield.
Joining Forte are Washington defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (64th), who could find himself as a younger and possibly cheaper alternative to Alan Branch, and 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
I've gone over why I don't think Boldin is a good fit with the Patriots. Boldin is another slot receiver, albeit a beastly fun one.
Knighton, on the other hand, could be an intriguing option if Hicks walks away with another franchise. While he lacks the same pass rushing ability of Hicks, Knighton can serve as major plug up the middle of the field and could allow other players around him to make more plays. He certainly fits with what the Patriots like to do on defense, but would seemingly be redundant with Branch on the roster.
We'll watch to see how everything unfolds over the coming weeks.