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    New England Patriots Free Agency Predictions: Best, Worst-Case Scenarios Include DeAndre Hopkins, Orlando Brown Jr., and Jamel Dean

    We break down the best and worst-case New England Patriots free agency predictions, including whether they should trade for DeAndre Hopkins.

    The New England Patriots enter the 2023 NFL offseason with a significant amount of cap space just two years after recklessly splurging after losing Tom Brady to the Buccaneers. They spent over $250 million on 15 players, bringing largely mediocre results outside of pass rusher Matt Judon. Head coach Bill Belichick has to do better this offseason.

    We’re breaking down the best and worst moves that the Patriots can make in free agency. After assembling a much more competent offensive staff and instructing them to “not be too hard” on third-year quarterback Mac Jones, the hope is for new talent along the roster and staff to result in a big difference on the field.

    Let’s dive into our Patriots free agency predictions and free agent targets.

    New England Patriots Free Agency Predictions

    Best-Case Scenarios Include DeAndre Hopkins, Orlando Brown Jr., and Jamel Dean

    The Patriots have very specific needs this offseason. They lack a No. 1 wide receiver, but their top target from 2022, Jakobi Meyers, is a free agent. Right tackle Isaiah Wynn is also a free agent, but neither Wynn nor left tackle Trent Brown was effective enough to return in 2023.

    Trying to balance these needs along with salary cap limitations is not easy. The Patriots will surely rely on the draft to help plug holes in a cost-efficient way, but their best-case scenario includes landing at least two impact veteran talents.

    The Patriots’ No. 1 target this offseason should be Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The star pass catcher has “been hearing a lot of trade talks” and is open to taking a more flexible contract extension if it means he can win, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

    Belichick has been effusive in his praise for Hopkins, saying, “his ball skills are at the very elite level,” last December. Moving a Day 2 pick for Hopkins can help solve an issue that has plagued the Patriots’ offense for years, as they’ve lacked explosiveness for far too long.

    Mike Giardi of NFL Network also quoted a Patriots source who said, “we don’t have one player you gotta game plan for,” so the team is aware of their limitations.

    MORE: New England Patriots Offseason Preview

    More offensive help is needed. If the Patriots allow Wynn to walk and cut Brown to save $10.3 million in cap space, then adding at least one veteran at either spot will be critical.

    Nabbing Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. would be expensive,  but it’s the best way to plug a gap with another massive body. Orlando Brown is significantly better in pass protection than Trent Brown is, and the left tackle market is incredibly shallow.

    The alternative would be to sign a right tackle and draft a left tackle, but that’s not quite the best-case scenario due to the difficulty most rookie blockers have.

    Finally, landing a big-time cornerback to fill Jonathan Jones’ role would help round out an excellent defense. The physical Jamel Dean is a natural fit as someone who cannot only win as a jammer but also take on more athletic pass catchers who give Jalen Mills problems. Dean is only 26 and was one of the best cover corners in the NFL last year.

    Worst-Case Scenarios Include Eric Fisher, Mike McGlinchey, and James Bradberry

    If teams have learned one thing over the years with free agency, it’s to not spend on players coming back from major injuries or about to be over their physical peak. Signing 30-year-olds to be more than just short-term stopgaps can be a brutal mistake that ruins a team’s season. Investing a little more for better, healthier players is wiser.

    The Patriots have been prone to giving poorly-structured and misvalued deals, including Jonnu Smith’s, Hunter Henry’s, DeVante Parker’s, and Nelson Agholor’s contracts. Even their deals for Mills and Davon Godchaux are questionable values. This offseason offers similar-level players who it’ll be easy to overspend on.

    If the Patriots opt to keep Trent Brown or replace him with a rookie left tackle, it’s important the team signs a quality veteran bookend. Taking an injury-flier on Eric Fisher, who never played for Miami in 2022 despite signing off the street as an injury replacement, or a bad system fit like Mike McGlinchey, can be disastrous.

    MORE: 2023 NFL Salary Cap Space by Team

    New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has favored power and inside-zone running concepts, and McGlinchey and Fisher were better in outside-zone schemes.

    The cornerback spot will also be a key free agent position to address. Adding James Bradberry on a one-year deal is smart, but not on a multi-year deal — despite his quality play throughout his career. New England has a bad habit of clinging to undersized corners or getting pigeonholed skill sets that require their scheme to cover for their weaknesses.

    Instead, the Patriots should look for more complete athletes so the unit can be more versatile in the coming years.

    New England Patriots Free Agent Targets

    Here is a list of players, by position, the Patriots should at least consider targeting in free agency.

    Wide Receiver

    • DJ Chark, Detroit Lions
    • Darius Slayton, New York Giants
    • Olamide Zaccheaus, Atlanta Falcons

    Offensive Tackle

    • Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City Chiefs
    • Andrew Wylie, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Andre Dillard, Philadelphia Eagles
    • Jawaan Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Billy Turner, Green Bay Packers

    Cornerback

    • Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Emmanuel Moseley, San Francisco 49ers
    • Marcus Peters, Baltimore Ravens
    • Shaquill Griffin, Jaguars

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