The NFL’s 2018 free agency came and went but dozens of players are still left unaccounted for, either because they did not sign new contracts since the open market opened or because they were released at some point during the offseason. Whatever the case, some potentially attractive options for the New England Patriots are still available this late in the offseason. Here are five of them, who could be nice additions to the team’s current roster.
LB Mychal Kendricks
Even though Kendricks is coming off a productive season during which he played two-thirds of the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive snaps and registered 73 tackles and 2.0 sacks, the team opted to release him last week for salary cap reasons. The former second-round draft pick, who has scheduled free agency visits with the Vikings, Browns and Raiders, would add another body to the linebacker competition behind Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.
WR Dez Bryant
Easily the biggest name left on the free agency market, Bryant also finds himself on the open market because of the salary cap: The Dallas Cowboys released the veteran in April to bring down his $16 million salary cap hit. While neither he nor any other non-quarterback is worth that much, the 29-year old is still one of the best wide receiver in football – and a player that could potentially flourish in New England's system if the cost is right.
SS Eric Reid
These days, Reid is more famous for his pre-game protests alongside Colin Kaepernick than his actual on-field performance. However, he also is a very good strong safety that comes with plenty of experience as a five-year starter for the San Francisco 49ers. The former first-round draft pick, who remains unsigned since entering free agency in March, would add depth and upside to a Patriots' safety group that is getting up there in age and lacks quality depth behind Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon.
LB NaVorro Bowman
Another former 49er, Bowman spent the majority of last season with the Oakland Raiders. Even though he is on the open market since March, the 30-year old would still be a quality pickup – especially this late in the offseason. An experienced player, Bowman is capable of playing three downs from the weakside linebacker spot and would like the aforementioned Kendricks would add another body to the competition behind Hightower and Van Noy.
SS Kenny Vaccaro
As noted above, the Patriots lack quality depth behind their top three safeties. Vaccaro, a who spent his first five years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, would add just that at relatively little cost. And even though the 27-year old comes with injury concerns and so far has not lived up to being a first-round pick, he would add versatility and experience to New England's defensive backfield – and thus be a potential upgrade over Jordan Richards.
While all five players listed above would be solid additions to the Patriots, they should not be expected to be added to the team any time soon: New England, currently in its second week of organized team activities, appears to currently be set from a depth standpoint. However, this all could change later in the process if injuries hit the team or any of the offseason additions fail to develop. Bringing in seasoned veterans on low-cost deals – players that do not count against the draft pick compensation formula – could then suddenly become an attractive option.