A case could be made that no team has been impacted more by NFL free agency than the New England Patriots.
Not only did the Patriots lose their legendary quarterback, Tom Brady, they've also lost several important defensive players in free agency. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's roster has plenty of weaknesses to address, and even though owning 12 picks in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft will help that process, some of these holes will need to be plugged in free agency.
Which of the best remaining players still on the free agent market should the Patriots pursue?
Before we answer that question, here's a list of the top 15 available players (as of Friday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. ET).
1. Cam Newton, QB
2. Jadeveon Clowney, DE
3. Logan Ryan, CB
4. Jameis Winston, QB
5. Mike Daniels, DT
6. Everson Griffen, DE
7. Jason Peters, LT
8. Prince Amukamara, CB
9. Markus Golden, LB
10. Shelby Harris, DT
11. Cameron Wake, DE
12. Damarious Randall, S
13. Eric Reid, S
14. Delanie Walker, TE
15. Demarcus Robinson, WR
Adding a veteran quarterback normally makes sense for a team in the Patriots' situation, but given New England's limited salary cap space, making a run at signing Cam Newton or Jameis Winston doesn't seem realistic. Giving second-year QB Jarrett Stidham a chance to win the starting job is the best path for the Patriots to take at that position.
The Patriots lost some quality pass rushers in free agency, including their two sack leaders from 2019 in linebackers Jamie Collins (seven sacks) and Kyle Van Noy (6.5 sacks). Therefore, pursuing an edge rusher such as Everson Griffen or Cameron Wake wouldn't be a bad idea, depending on the price. Griffen, in particular, had a solid 2019 season with eight sacks and 41 total tackles in 15 games for the Minnesota Vikings.
New England still hasn't found a solution at tight end following Rob Gronkowski's retirement in March of 2019. Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo failed to make much of an offensive impact last season, and the Patriots have not upgraded their depth or talent at tight end in free agency. Making matters worse for the Patriots is the class of tight ends in the 2020 NFL Draft has not drawn rave reviews, unlike last year. Delanie Walker is the best veteran tight end available, but injuries have limited him to just eight games played over the last two seasons. That said, Walker is still worth signing if he's healthy.
This point in free agency is where teams look for bargains, and Belichick has found plenty of them during his tenure as Patriots coach. That said, he has his work cut out for him if the Patriots are going to remain a contender in the AFC entering the 2020 season.