For the New England Patriots, the 2018 league year started with some considerable personnel losses. Two days into free agency, however, the team has starting to pick up some steam and has either made some moves or been linked to multiple players. With all that in mind, let's quickly break down day number two.
The Patriots made a great trade for Jason McCourty...
Trading for Cleveland Browns cornerback Jason McCourty was without a doubt the biggest of the Patriots' news yesterday. By adding the twin brother of safety Devin McCourty, New England, following Malcolm Butler leaving through free agency, adds much-needed depth and starting-caliber quality to the defensive backfield – by giving up pretty much nothing at all: The team drops a mere 15 draft slots from rounds six to seven, a drop of not even one point on the draft picks value chart.
...and added a starting-caliber player to their defense
Make no mistake: McCourty was a solid player for the Cleveland Browns last season. According to Pro Football Focus, he surrendered 646 yards and five touchdowns all year while also registering three interceptions and a passer rating of 95.8. For comparison, the cornerback who is his de-facto predecessor in New England's secondary – Malcolm Butler – gave up 770 yards, nine scores and registered two interceptions for a passer rating of 97.7.
Heading into draft season, the secondary no longer appears to be a priority
SB Nation's Dan Kadar publishes a mock draft each week – and each week since the Super Bowl, he had the Patriots select a cornerback to fill Butler's vacant spot. With McCourty now in the fold, the team's draft priorities no longer appear to include the cornerback position. While, yes, McCourty will be 31 next year and is playing on a one-year contract, the team now has some wiggle-room when it comes to adding players highly in the draft.
None of Patriots' the other free agents appear to generate noticeable buzz
With the exception of defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who will take a visit with the Detroit Lions, New England's remaining free agents have not generated any headlines so far. This probably bodes well for the team and its chances of retaining the players. While some, like special teamer Matthew Slater are safe bets to return for another season, others – especially offensive tackles Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle – are not so much. Not hearing a lot about the latter group could be seen as a positive sign.
Adrian Clayborn and Jeremy Hill would be very good additions
According to reports, the Patriots will host veteran defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn and running back Jeremy Hill on free agency visits. While a visit does not necessarily have to lead to a deal, both players taking the trip to New England is a good sign – especially since both players would be solid fits for the team. Clayborn is coming off a season in which he generated 9.5 sacks and a combined 58 quarterback pressures and would project to be a valuable member of the Patriots' edge rotation. Hill, meanwhile, had a down year last season but would fill the big-body role formerly held by LeGarrette Blount.
Re-signing Jonathan Casillas and Asante Cleveland would be solid moves
While Clayborn and Hill are higher-profile free agents, Jonathan Casillas and Asante Cleveland would also be solid additions. Neither player projects to break the bank but would serve as depth options at their respective positions. Injuries are a concern as both players ended the 2017 season on injured reserve but overall, there would be little risking in re-signing both of them.