By Sravan Gannavarapu
Boston University News Service
BOSTON — The New England Patriots are not a team to lavishly hand out money to National Football League (NFL) free agents, nor are they often active on “Day 1” of the event.
But in 2021, things have changed.
New England was aggressive Monday as they signed several potential starters for the upcoming season.
The franchise upgraded their offense by signing former Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith. He is expected to boost the offense by providing quarterback Cam Newton an excellent target.
In addition to Smith, the franchise acquired offensive tackle Trent Brown in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. Brown was a crucial part of the Patriots offensive line that won Super Bowl LIII before departing to the West Coast.
On defense, New England fared much better than their offense last season, but still needed help. While the return of linebacker Dont’a Hightower certainly is a plus, the team needs a reboot.
Judon is a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the more underrated pass rushers in the league. Godchaux played for former Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores in Miami and is among the league’s better run-defenders.
Meanwhile, Mills was a productive player for the Eagles and won a Super Bowl against the Patriots in the 2017-2018 season.
While all of these signings look impressive on paper, the field will determine whether or not the investments truly paid off. Last season, New England, with little talent, finished 7-9.
Having better personnel at their disposal will surely mean the team will improve in the upcoming season. After all, there is still a lot of time between then and now. The NFL Draft is also close to a month away and the Patriots will be picking near the middle of the first round. Who they will choose remains to be seen.
It could potentially be a quarterback or a wide receiver. Or, they could trade down to grab more picks to fill other holes. Nevertheless, the Patriots had to get better in the offseason after what transpired a year ago, especially after watching three of their former players (Tom Brady, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski) hoist the Lombardi trophy.
After “Day 1,” they seem to be doing better. One day does not make a difference — but anything good helps.