Cash to burn? Here’s how the Patriots could spend it in NFL free agency – NBC Sports Boston
You say money to burn? It looks fun. but how?
When Jerrod Mayo spoke to WEEI’s Greg Hill Show earlier this week and playfully suggested that he and his teammates in the Patriots’ front office were planning to set Robert Kraft’s money on fire, what he didn’t share was his plan on how to do it.
This is understandable. The free agent market is unpredictable, and the Patriots don’t have anything close to a complete coaching staff right now. This means that measuring the “shifts” of the Patriots’ identity on the field (offensively, in particular) is very difficult right now.
But there are some clear areas of need that should be priorities almost regardless of the offensive scheme they choose. Let’s go over a few of those things for the Patriots while “burning” some of their available resources in the process.
Re-signed OL Mike Onwenu
Of all the Patriots’ potential free agents, Mike Onwenu may be the most indispensable. As it stands, the team does not have a contract-proven offensive ability.
According to a league source, Onwenu’s value on the open market could drop to $15 million per season over four seasons. For someone who can play starting-caliber football at two different positions, that’s more than reasonable, and would put him in a similar price range to where Jack Conklin is now in Cleveland.
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ESPN recently reported that the Patriots “basically” know they won’t be able to bring Onwenu back, but one team source indicated there is a real affinity for Onwenu’s game in the building and that they would like to bring him back to Foxboro for 2024 and beyond. If they can’t get something done, the picture against the Patriots next year could be ugly.
Onwenu’s 2024 cap number could be around $8 million if his deal is anything like Conklin’s.
Signed WR Calvin Ridley
If the Patriots can acquire Tee Higgins as a free agent, they should do so. But the Bengals may not let him go that far. Tagging him as a short-term solution to the problem of paying quarterback Joe Burrow and receiver Ja’Marr Chase and still having money left over seems reasonable for Cincinnati.
This means Ridley could be the Patriots’ next best option. After missing all of 2022 due to a punting suspension and half of 2021 when he left the Falcons for mental health reasons, the former Alabama star had a 1,000-yard season in Jacksonville.
He’s a more explosive option than fellow free agent Michael Pittman, and would give the Patriots some much-needed juice in their receiver room. Going into 2024 with the top duo of Ridley and Demario “Pop” Douglas isn’t enough to impress the rest of the league, but it’s an upgrade.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ridley could get a deal that pays him around $16.5 million per season. If so, the Patriots could give him a three-year deal worth up to $9 million in year one.
Apply the franchise tag to TE Hunter Henry
Giving Hunter Henry a “franchise” salary may seem rich, but since salaries at the tight end position have been relatively suppressed for years, the tag isn’t very onerous. According to Over the Cap projections, the tight ends’ mark in 2024 will come in at a shade over $12 million. Henry will be worth it.
Mayo recently described Henry as one of two offensive leaders in the Patriots locker room, along with David Andrews. That Henry isn’t under contract can be a little scary. He remains a capable tight end. He seems to be a culture builder. Mark may be the best option for New England if they want to be sure they can keep him.
With these three moves, the Patriots will have burned through about $29 million in cap space for 2024. For a team that could have more than $80 million in space if it opts to release J.C. Jackson, that leaves plenty to fill in other holes in Roster, pay the rookie class, and make in-season signings.
For example, signing veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett could cost around $8 million because that’s what prompted him to sign with Washington last season. He could be a wise-cracking graybeard in the quarterbacks room if the Patriots draft their rookie third overall. No problem.
monetary. to. Burn. Remember?
However, spending it well will be key to the Patriots revamping their roster as quickly as possible to put the Mayo Era on track.
(Tags for translation)Calvin Ridley