After two days of being one of the most active teams in free agency, the New England Patriots have had a more tranquil day three. That does not mean, however, that the team did not make any moves. It was still able to add depth while continuing to pull strings behind the scenes.
Let’s take a look back at yesterday and what it means for the Patriots.
New England adds depth to its interior defensive line
One day after bolstering its defensive edge by making a trade with the Carolina Panthers to acquire Kony Ealy, New England addressed the interior of its defensive line. The Patriots handed a 4-year, $20.0 million contract to former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. The 26-year old joins Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown and Vincent Valentine as the top players at the position and brings size (he is listed at 6’4, 305 lbs after all), pass rushing ability and positional versatility to New England’s line. All in all he adds another layer of depth, especially behind recently re-signed Branch, and another piece to the rotation.
The race for Dont’a Hightower is close to the finish line
After three days of signing and trading, the Patriots’ most notable free agent is still left on the market – one that is getting smaller, though. Two teams that appear to be out of the running now are the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. New England’s AFC East rival signed Lawrence Timmons at linebacker, while the New Orleans Saints cancelled a meeting with the 27-year old. And according to Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky, Titans fans should also "tamp down" their expectations.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are still "keeping close tabs" on Hightower and are "very interested" in bringing him back. According to Albert Breer, one team is "convinced" that the 2016 defensive team captain will return to New England. It seems as if the Patriots are emerging as the favorites to retain one of their most important free agents. But, as the team found out in Super Bowl LI, it’s not over ‘till it’s over.
The running back position continues to stay unaddressed
New England’s offense has significantly bolstered its depth over the last three days by adding wide receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Dwayne Allen. One position that has not yet been addressed, though, is running back. LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden remain unsigned, leaving the Patriots with only four true runners on its roster: Dion Lewis, James White, D.J. Foster and Tyler Gaffney.
While Lewis and White are locks to be with the team this season, Foster and Gaffney have yet to make any impact and prove that they are capable of playing in the NFL. Unless the Patriots feel very strongly about their development, the team will add more bodies to the competition – especially bigger, early down runners – either via free agency or through the draft at the latest.
Martellus Bennett might net a lower compensatory pick
Prior to free agency, tight end Martellus Bennett was seen as a candidate to net the Patriots as high a compensatory draft pick as a third rounder should he leave. Leave he did, to the Green Bay Packers on Friday, but his recently released contract details show that New England might not be able to get a day two pick in return. Instead, it now looks as if a fifth round selection is the best the Patriots can expect.