Three Free Agents the Patriots Should Consider Signing
Although the core group of free agents already signed with new teams, there’s still a large group of veterans waiting to be picked up. With training camp approaching in July, we expect the top remaining free agents to be signed over the next few weeks. Even though most of the remaining free agents come with flaws, the Patriots should still look to add depth. The Patriots’ pursuit of free agents is handicapped by their lack of cap space, but it’s possible they figure out a way to move some money around. In this article, we’ll give you three free agents the Patriots should consider signing.
TE Delanie Walker
After missing a ton of action in 2018 and 2019, the Titans released Delanie Walker in March. Walker has only played in 8 games the past two seasons. At the age of 35, Walker is the oldest guy on our free-agent target list. Walker had 21 catches, 215 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 7 games a season ago. The last time Walker played a full season came in 2017. During that season, Walked had 74 catches, 807 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
The Patriots addressed the tight end position in the NFL draft by selecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Even with the new draftees, the Patriots will likely keep a third tight end to pair with the rookies. The most likely candidates to stick on the roster are Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. We discussed the outlook of the tight end position here.
Both LaCosse and Izzo made the 53-man roster last season. The problem was, neither produced on the football field. LaCosse had 13 catches for 131 yards and Izzo had 6 catches for 114 yards. Walker produced more than both in a shortened season. One of the best things you can provide for a young quarterback is a big target in the middle of the field and Walker could potentially be that target. It’s not just the passing game, Walker may be a better blocking tight end than LaCosse and Izzo. Walker signing with the Patriots would give Asiasi and Keene a savvy veteran to learn the position from.
The main caution when it comes to Walker is his age and health. Walker is obviously in the twilight of his career. If he can’t stay on the field, keeping LaCosse or Izzo instead is a better choice. With that being said, it makes sense to give Walker a shot if the money works. At the very least, Walker spends the offseason coaching up Asiasi and Keene. At best, Walker makes the team and gives Jarrett Stidham a middle of the field passing option.
DT Mike Daniels
Before the 2019 season, Mike Daniels was released by the Packers to save cap space. The Patriots were named as one of Daniels’s potential suitors. A deal was never worked out and Daniels ended up signing with Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions. Daniels spent the majority of the 2019 season injured. He ended his one season in Detroit on the injured reserve. Daniels finished with 10 tackles and one sack.
After missing out on Daniels a year ago, the Patriots could look to bring him in on a cheap contract. The defensive tackle spot could use another veteran to compete with Beau Allen and Byron Cowart. We covered the interior defensive line in-depth here. Daniels brings a good pass rush and solid run defense. A guy that excels at rushing the passer and stuffing the run is extremely valuable. One of the traits Bill Belichick looks for in a player is versatility and Daniels is a versatile player. He can play on the interior and he can also extend to the edge if needed. We don’t see the Patriots using him at the edge, but he could provide a bigger body to sed the edge on run plays.
The biggest drawback to signing Daniels is his injury history. Not only did Daniels end his 2019 season on the injured reserve, but his 2018 season suffered the same fate. Any contract Daniels may get is likely a one-year-deal with little guaranteed money and heavily based around incentives. If we were the Patriots, we’d at least see where Daniels stands health-wise.
DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison
Like Mike Daniels, Damon “Snacks” Harrison also played for the Lions in 2019. Harrison was traded from the Giants to the Lions in the middle of the 2018 season. After arriving in Detroit during the 2018 season, Harrison proceeded to put up elite defensive tackle numbers. The following season was a different story; Harrison battled through injuries a majority of the 2019 season. He ended with only 49 tackles after having 81 in 2018. The Lions released Harrison in February.
When Harrison is at his best, he’s one of the best-run stuffers in the NFL. He’s a big body that plugs up the middle. The Patriots have Beau Allen but Harrison is an even better option to fill the Danny Shelton role. If you exclude the 2019 season, Harrison has had over 70 tackles dating back to the 2015 season. In the AFC, when facing teams like the Ravens and Titans, you better have your run defense ready to go. The Patriots number one remaining weakness on defense is stopping the run. If Harrison can play as he did in 2018, good luck scoring on the Patriots defense. Harrison is our number one free agent target.
There are multiple questions when it comes to Harrison. First, how much does he have left in the tank? Last season seemed to take a toll on Harrison’s body. There was an obvious drop off in play, whether it was due to health or getting older. Harrison may not be the player he once was. The second question is how much money is Harrison looking for in a new contract? A one-year incentive heavy contract is likely all the Patriots can offer. Even after a down year, Harrison still might receive more money elsewhere. If we were the Patriots, we’d check in with Harrison to see his contract demands. If the price is right, the Patriots should give him a shot.
Let us know in the comments below which free agent you think the Patriots should sign!
4 thoughts on “Three Free Agents the Patriots Should Consider Signing”
Can’t sign any of them no money….
good strong young players all under the cap, if we have a camp let them play it out.
There are some ways to get a few million dollars whether it be restructures or cutting a player. The question is if it’s worth doing.
Delanie Walker would be an interesting add. We saw how unproductive the Patriots tight ends (LaCosse and Izzo) were last year. Then, how much of that lack of productivity is on them and how much is on Brady. We saw how Brady didn’t want to throw to anyone he didn’t trust. If nothing else, Walker could coach up Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi in training camp. Based on his injury history the last two seasons, I can’t imagine it would cost a lot of money to sign him.
I’m with you. It wouldn’t take all that much to sign Walker. See what he has in training camp and go from there. Thanks for reading!