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2024 Free Agent Forecast: Defensive Line

The new NFL league year begins Wednesday, March 13, and with it, the advent of 2024’s free agency marketplace. Leading up to that day, we’ll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective. Today, we analyze the defensive line.

Patriots defensive lineman Davon Godchaux
Patriots defensive lineman Davon Godchaux

Patriots Free Agents: None.

Notable External Free Agents: Leonard Williams, Chase Young, A'Shawn Robinson, Chris Jones, Austin Johnson, D.J. Reader, Raekwon Davis.

Position Analysis: The defensive line is a veteran position group that is expected to have good continuity from 2023, returning three of their top four rotational starters in Davon Godchaux (60.3 percent of defensive snaps), Deatrich Wise (56.5 percent) and Christian Barmore (66.2 percent). Lawrence Guy (45.6 percent) was released in February.

With Guy's departure, second-year player Keion White could see his role expanded in 2024 after logging 49.3 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie, playing in a variety of roles around the front seven and showing good development toward the end of the season.

However, all three of the top-line starters are due to hit free agency in 2025, making the interior defensive line a major area of long-term need despite the solid all-around performances of the veterans who are all slated to return in 2024.

Patriots defensive lineman Christian Barmore (90)
Patriots defensive lineman Christian Barmore (90)

As the youngest and most productive member of the unit, Christian Barmore could be in line for a contract extension this offseason as he enters the final year of his rookie pact. Barmore took a major step forward in 2023 as he rounded out his game, while still remaining a consistently disruptive player. He's one of the Patriots bright young stars and one they cannot afford to let get away next year.

With new defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington elevating from his defensive line coaching position, he should have a good sense of where the unit is and what kind of reinforcements they could use. Both Wise and Godchaux will turn 30 this year.

Reinforcing the group with some youth in free agency could be a smart idea as the team looks to avoid a full turnover next year. Kansas City's Chris Jones and Baltimore's Justin Madubuike headline a strong class and are two potentially expensive players who could instantly improve an already strong position group if their respective teams allow them to get away.

Christian Wilkins is a Massachusetts native and still just 28. The Patriots have gotten plenty of close looks at him with the Dolphins, but he's also a Franchise Tag candidate for Miami. Maurice Hurst is another local, but one who has been limited in multiple stops due to injuries.

A'Shawn Robinson and Raekwon Davis are two other free agents that fit the Patriots scheme, or at least they did under the previous regime. They're big bodied interior players who can eat up blockers.

The Patriots will need an eye toward the long-term at this position group, one that looks strong right now on paper but also one that could be facing a decline if the team doesn't stay ahead of the curve. Free agents in their mid-20's and the 2024 draft class should all be under the microscope as the Patriots look to ensure the future viability of one of their most important position groups.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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