Updated: Sep 10
How have these key signings turned out for the Patriots?
Heading into the 2021 off-season, it was clear the Patriots needed to make massive changes to their roster. They had a large amount of cap space, and they certainly made an effort to improve their roster. Bill Belichick addressed most of their needs, and there was a lot of optimism heading into the next few years. Two seasons later, how have these signings turned out?
Matthew Judon signed a four year, $56m deal with New England, and he has been worth every dollar of that deal. Judon is easily the best signing out of the entire haul the Patriots had. Judon in his first year with New England had 12.5 sacks, and completely changed the attitude of the defense. Although he slowed down towards the end of the year, Judon was the best player the Patriots had on defense last season.
Heading into the 2022 season, Judon 15 sacks in nine games, which is leading the entire league. Matthew Judon is having a career year, and he sees himself as a potential DPOY candidate. This was a fantastic signing for New England, and they found themselves a star on defense.
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Jalen Mills is arguably the second best signing that New England had. Mills made a contribution right away for New England, although he was slightly inconsistent. In 2021, Mills wasn’t ranked as a top 20 corner. In 2022, he’s had a much better year. So far he’s been playing great in his secondary role, and even has two interceptions. Mills provides good depth for New England’s cornerback group, and he provides a good veteran presence.
In 2021, Kendrick Bourne had a breakout year. Bourne received 55 catches for 800 yards, and even rushed for 125 yards. Kendrick Bourne was a dynamic playmaker the Patriots needed, and with Mac Jones developing there was certainly an expectation he would breakout this year. However, Bourne sees himself getting limited opportunity on the field. So far, Bourne only has 167 receiving yards. Bourne has lots of potential, and he has another breakout year ahead of him. The Patriots need to make it a priority to get Kendrick Bourne more involved in the offense.
New England’s offense is struggling currently, and they lack a true playmaker like Bourne. Devante Parker is a good contested catch receiver, Meyers is a dependable receiver who can get open, and Bourne is a speedy playmaker. If New England is able to get all of these pieces integrated, they have the potential to be a very good offense.
Hunter Henry had a good year in 2021, receiving for nine touchdowns. Mac had a good connection with Hunter Henry especially when New England was close to scoring. Hunter finished the year with 603 yards. This year, whether it’s the different quarterbacks, or Mac not looking the same, Hunter has looked underwhelming. Through nine games Hunter has 240 yards receiving and one touchdown. New England is having trouble scoring touchdowns, and they need to get Hunter Henry more involved when New England is in the red zone.
Jonnu Smith has a lot of potential, but he hasn’t had much opportunity in his two seasons. Smith had 28 receptions for 294 yards in 2021, and 154 yards so far into the season. Jonnu is an electric player once he gets the ball, and New England hasn’t given him much opportunity. Getting the ball to Jonnu faster would be the key. Jonnu Smith is a very dynamic player and the Patriots have to do a better job getting him involved. Jonnu and Henry are a package deal – they’ll perform best when used as a duo with playcalls that maximize their unique styles. Nick Caley needs to be more involved here.
Nelson Agholor was signed to be a down the field threat, and he hasn’t been able to produce much. In his first year, Mac was still a rookie and New England didn’t push the ball down the field much. In 2022, the Patriots are making more of an effort to push the ball down the field, however New England’s offensive line hasn’t been good this season. Agholor finished with 473 yards last year, and 227 yards so far this year. With Meyers having a breakout year, and with Tyquan Thornton flashing potential, Agholor hasn’t gotten much opportunity, and when he has, he’s often had fumble/drop troubles.
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