Image Courtesy of Patriots Wire
By Jack Cherico
At noon on Monday, March 15, the NFL legal tampering period began. The legal tampering period is when players who are out of a contract can negotiate with other teams without facing any consequences.
The period started with news of two major free agency contract renewals, running back Aaron Jones re-signing with the Green Bay Packers and edge rusher Shaq Barrett returning to the super bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These deals were the start of many moves around the league, but this article will be focusing on the biggest free-agency spending frenzy in recent memory.
The New England Patriots, coming off of a disappointing year, needed to revamp their offense and had the third-highest amount of money available to spend in the league, with 65 million dollars in cap space. The Patriots have never been big hitters in free agency; they usually like to pay players small amounts of money on short-term contracts to see how much value they can bring. Before Monday, New England started with resigning QB Cam Newton, trading away offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, and trading for offensive tackle Trent Brown, who previously played for the team. These were already solid moves, yet no Patriots fan had any idea what was about to happen at noon.
To start, the Patriots signed former Titans tight end Jonnu Smith to a four-year 50 million dollar deal that includes 31.25 million dollars guaranteed. The weakness at the tight end position was a problem for the Patriots since Rob Gronkowski retired, as all of the Patriots’ tight ends combined for only one touchdown last year.
Many Patriots fans were happy with this move and were surprised by the uncharacteristic amount of money. Before fully processing it, the team signed former Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and former Eagles safety Jalen Mills. Both are solid role players and are more characteristic signings for the Patriots. At 3:00 p.m., news broke that the team is signing former Ravens edge rusher Matthew Judon to a four-year 56 million dollar contract, a move that bolsters their pass rush and adds a player who has 35 career sacks and multiple pro bowl nods.
Later that day, the team signed two wide receivers, former raiders wideout Nelson Agholor and former 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne, both coming off of career-high seasons for their respective teams. At this point, Patriots fans are going wild and have seen the most turbulent free agency day in years. But that wasn’t all; the next day, ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that former Chargers tight end Hunter Henry would be signing with the Patriots to a three-year 37.5 million dollar deal.
This move, and all the previous ones, show the Patriots will be returning to the offense they ran in the past with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a two-tight-end offense that was lethal in the red zone. The Patriots have spent 232 million dollars in contract money so far, and one would think that this revamped Patriots team will be a problem next year.