The New England Patriots don't often spend big in NFL free agency, but they decided to go all-in during the offseason to fix the roster after a disappointing 2020 season.
The Patriots signed several of the top players available at different positions, with the most notable additions being linebacker Matthew Judon, wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, and defensive back Jalen Mills.
These additions were met with plenty of approval from people in the media and fans. But not everyone was convinced the Patriots had substantially improved.
Take this Pro Football Focus tweet from March for example:
It turns out Target has some quality stuff, right?
Fast forward about eight months and the Patriots look like geniuses for making a huge splash in free agency.
New England has won six consecutive games, a run that's vaulted the team into first place in the AFC East and the No. 2 seed in the conference. The free agent pickups have played a huge part in that success.
Someone must've recently told Judon about the above tweet, because he made reference to it Tuesday morning by highlighting the "Target" mention. Kendrick Bourne couldn't resist chiming in, too.
Judon, in particular, has shined among the Pats' free-agent signings. He enters Week 13 with 11.5 sacks -- the third-most in the league. He's a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Bourne and Henry have helped the passing attack show dramatic improvement from last season. They've combined for 12 receiving touchdowns through 12 games.
The Patriots haven't accomplished anything yet. There's a lot of football left to be played this season. But we have enough of a sample size to say they did very well in free agency. You can bet Judon and the rest of the newcomers will continue to use all of the criticism -- past and present -- to help motivate them to finish the 2021 campaign as strong as possible.