This article is part of our NFL Picks series.
The Patriots are coming off an 8-9 season in which they missed the playoffs with a Week 18 loss to the AFC East rival Bills. Considering how close New England was to making the postseason in 2022, a couple of prudent free agent signings could be all that's needed for the Patriots to get back into the NFL playoffs. Who could the New England Patriots sign in NFL free agency, and how could such signings affect the team's playoffs or Super Bowl odds?
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Which Position Will The Patriots Target In NFL Free Agency?
New England's biggest weaknesses in 2022 were the quarterback and wide receiver positions. The defense allowed only 20.4 PPG and led the NFL with seven touchdowns, while Rhamondre Stevenson emerged as one of the league's most productive running backs with 1,461 scrimmage yards as the focal point of a lackluster offense that scored just 21.4 PPG.
The Patriots are unlikely to address the quarterback position in free agency. They invested significant draft capital into underwhelming 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones and will almost certainly try to coax a bounce-back season out of Jones, who helped the team make the playoffs with a 22:13 TD:INT as a rookie before posting a 14:11 mark in his second NFL campaign.
Signing a wide receiver in free agency could help New England kill two birds with one stone. The Patriots don't have a single player who produced more than 539 receiving yards last season under contract, and adding a productive pass catcher could also be the key to getting Jones' development back on track.
Which Wide Receivers Could The New England Patriots Sign In NFL Free Agency
It's almost a given that the Patriots will attempt to improve their receiving corps, be it through free agency, the draft, or a trade. While New England has drafted and developed much of its defensive talent over the years, the Patriots have a history of bringing in established pass catchers, with varying degrees of success. Some noteworthy additions the Patriots have made in the past include Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco.
Who could the New England Patriots sign in NFL free agency if they target the wide receiver position? For starters, they could try to bring back their top option from 2022; Jakobi Meyers is a free agent after leading the team with 804 receiving yards this past season. Signing Meyers would likely knock the Patriots out of the running for other big names, but they could still add another receiver in free agency, such as former Tom Brady target Scotty Miller, or proficient blocker Allen Lazard.
If New England doesn't retain Meyers, the team will likely feel the pressure to make a bigger move in the wide receiver market by targeting the likes of Odell Beckham or JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both of those players have dealt with injuries in recent years, but each has crossed the 1,400-yard threshold in the past. Another possible Patriots target with a checkered injury history is Sterling Shepard, who is recovering from a torn ACL but has topped 650 yards four times.
Could A Key NFL Free Agency Signing Affect The Patriots' 2023 Odds?
The Patriots currently have +4500 odds to win Super Bowl LVIII at Caesars Sportsbook. Those odds could shift substantially if the team adds a difference maker such as Beckham or Smith-Schuster in free agency. A prominent signing at another position or a trade for a wide receiver such as DeAndre Hopkins could also substantially boost New England's chances of competing for a playoff spot or Super Bowl next season.
The biggest potential shift in New England's odds could come if the Patriots make a surprise change at the game's most important position. Should the Patriots upgrade under center by signing a free agent quarterback such as Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo, their playoff and Super Bowl odds would improve drastically, especially since their current Caesars Sportsbook odds aren't pricing in such an unexpected move.
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