Free agency was a busy time for the New England Patriots. Not only did the team see some long-time cornerstone players leave through the open market — among them quarterback Tom Brady, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and special teamer Nate Ebner — it also traded away veteran safety Duron Harmon. While the numerous departures are the biggest story from the Patriots’ perspective, the team also signed some players to bolster their roster’s depth.
Up until this week, however, not a single one of those previously reported signings had been made official by the club for one reason or another (it is no stretch of the imagination that the Coronavirus pandemic and limited abilities to travel, hold workouts and do medical examinations may have played a role in the hold-up, though). This all changed on Thursday, when the Patriots formally announced bringing the following eight players on board:
QB Brian Hoyer: The 34-year-old, who is in his third go-around with the Patriots, was picked up by the team shortly after his release from the Indianapolis Colts. He is expected to serve as a backup and veteran mentor to projected starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham this season. Hoyer reportedly signed a one-year, $1.05 million deal with the Patriots.
FB Danny Vitale: With the writing on the wall that James Develin would end his career coming off a season-ending neck injury, the Patriots brought the 26-year-old aboard in free agency. He will now compete against second-year man Jakob Johnson for Develin’s old job as the team’s fullback. Vitale reportedly signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with the Patriots.
WR Damiere Byrd: The first of New England’s free agency additions this year, Byrd is projected to fill the X-receiver role previously held by Phillip Dorsett and to bring speed and big-play potential to a pass-catching corps that lacked both in 2019. The 27-year-old reportedly signed a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the Patriots.
WR Marqise Lee: Lee struggled with injuries over the last two seasons and had to end both his 2018 and 2019 campaigns on injured reserve — prompting the Jacksonville Jaguars to release him before the draft. Now in New England, the 28-year-old will compete for a fresh start as a Z/X-hybrid in the Patriots’ scheme. He reportedly signed a one-year deal with the team.
DT Beau Allen: New England did not add any defensive tackle help during the draft, which is a good sign for Allen’s outlook heading into the 2020 season: the free agency pickup is expected to serve as the number three in the team’s defensive tackle rotation alongside Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler. Allen reportedly signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Patriots.
LB Brandon Copeland: With the Patriots bringing a pair of linebackers aboard on Day Two of the draft, Copeland will have to earn his spot on the roster. That said, he brings a versatile skillset to the table and could help fill the role previously held by Jamie Collins. Copeland reportedly signed a one-year, $1.05 million deal with the Patriots.
S Adrian Phillips: After trading away Duron Harmon, the New England needed to bolster its safety depth and did just that when Phillips was signed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal. The 28-year-old is projected to serve as a rotational option alongside starters Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, as well as second-round rookie Kyle Dugger.
S Cody Davis: While Davis does offer some defensive experience, the expectation is that he will help New England fill the void created by core special teamer Nate Ebner. One of the most productive kick coverage players in the league the last few seasons, Davis reportedly signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Patriots.
As a result of their free agency losses relative to the players that they picked up, the Patriots are projected to receive three of a possible four compensatory draft picks next year: Tom Brady will net the team an additional third-rounder, with linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins resulting in two more fourth-round picks for New England in 2021. The other qualifying departures — center Ted Karras and defensive tackle Danny Shelton — were canceled out by the additions of Phillips and Allen.