The new NFL year begins Wednesday, March 16, and with it, the advent of 2022's free agent marketplace. Leading up to that first day, we'll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective, continuing with safeties.
PATRIOTS FREE AGENTS
OTHER NOTABLE NFL FREE AGENTS
Duron Harmon (Atlanta Falcons), Tashaun Gipson (Chicago Bears), Jessie Bates (Cincinnati Bengals, franchise tagged), Kareem Jackson (Denver Broncos), Justin Reid (Houston Texans), Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City Chiefs), Xavier Woods (Minnesota Vikings), Marcus Williams (New Orleans Saints), Jabrill Peppers (New York Giants), Marcus Maye (New York Jets), Anthony Harris (Philadelphia Eagles), Terrell Edmunds (Pittsburgh Steelers), Quandre Diggs (Seattle Seahawks), Jordan Whitehead (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Bobby McCain (Washington Commanders)
McCourty, Harmon, Mathieu, Peppers, Maye, Edmunds, McCain, DeAndre Houston-Carson (Chicago Bears), Ronnie Harrison (Cleveland Browns), Tracy Walker (Detroit Lions), Terrence Brooks (Houston Texans), Nate Ebner (New York Giants)
Obviously, the name that sticks out in this group is McCourty, New England's longtime defensive co-captain and emotional leader of the group on and off the field. As of this posting, media reports suggest the safety, who'll turn 35 during the preseason, plans to continue playing in 2022, but whether that's in New England or elsewhere remains to be seen. Should he elect to stay with the Patriots, he'd no doubt be an integral part of the secondary, even with veteran Adrian Phillips and emerging star Kyle Dugger taking on more of a role back there.
If, on the other hand, New England goes in another direction, Mathieu would be an attention-grabbing name, but as such, he might be too expensive a signing given New England's limited resources this year. Perhaps they'd look to a more affordable, yet still talented player coming off an injury, such as Peppers (age 26, coming off ACL and ankle problems) or Maye (29, Achilles).
Experienced, though somewhat under-the-radar players like Edmunds, Harrison, and Walker could be considerations. The 28-year-old McCain, a former Miami Dolphin, is an intriguing one to watch, given his position versatility and proven ability against the Patriots in the past.
Of course, it would also be very Patriot-like for New England to bring back former players like Harmon, Brooks, or Ebner, all of whom would transition seamlessly back into the system.