While free agency will not officially begin until March 18, there has already been plenty of movement around the NFL. The New England Patriots have been relatively quiet so far with the exception of signing cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, and will likely pick up the pace after the scouting combine next week, but they might still be interested in taking a closer look at some of the players that have been released (or will get the axe) so far this offseason.
Four players in particular stand out as potential candidates to garner New England’s attention: tight end Jordan Reed, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebackers Nigel Bradham and Vic Beasley. Reed, Bradham and Beasley are already on the open market and would be available right away, while Harrison is expected to get released by the Detroit Lions before the start of the new league year next month.
Let’s take a closer look at what they could theoretically bring to the table if brought to New England:
TE Jordan Reed: A talented and experienced receiving tight end that also has upside as a blocker, Reed has struggled with concussions recently and had to sit out the entire 2019 season after suffering another one in August. The best course of action for him personally would probably be to just retire for the sake of his long-term health. If he is intent on continuing his career now that he has been cleared from the concussion protocol and released by the Washington Redskins, however, the Patriots should at least give him a look.
DT Damon Harrison Sr: As noted above, Harrison has not yet been released but the expectation is that the Lions will move on from him sooner rather than later. And if that happens, the Patriots should be interested in obtaining his services — even more so than with Reed, Beasley and Bradham — considering that he is a stout run defender capable of filling the role previously held by potential free agency departure Danny Shelton. 2019 was a down year for Harrison, sure, but injuries may have played a role in this. He would be worth a shot.
LB Vic Beasley: The Patriots have never shied away from acquiring former first-round draft picks that have failed to live up to expectations on their former teams. Beasley, the eighth overall pick in 2015, would certainly fall under this category after five up-and-down seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Is he a guarantee to work out in New England? Certainly not, but the Patriots might be able to bring him in on the cheap and try to find a role for him as a situational pass rusher with a tremendous athletic profile.
LB Nigel Bradham: With Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins Sr. both hitting free agency next month, the Patriots could turn to the 30-year-old as a potential depth piece for their linebacker corps. While Bradham has had his ups and downs during the 2019 season — prompting the Philadelphia Eagles to release him in order to save $4.5 million against the salary cap — he would bring considerable experience to the table as a rotational piece alongside Dont’a Hightower and other (re-)signings.
Realistically speaking, the Patriots will likely shy away from Reed due to his health concerns. The other three players, however, could be intriguing low-cost options. This rings especially true considering that they would not count against the NFL’s compensatory draft picks formula after getting released from their previous teams. Aside from financial investments that might be comparatively minimal, New England therefore would risk little to take a closer look at them.