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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Jul 16 - 02:01 AM | Thu Jul 18 - 09:25 AM

2024 Free Agent Forecast: Edge

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 edge players.

Patriots linebacker Josh Uche
Patriots linebacker Josh Uche

Patriots Free Agents: Josh Uche, Anfernee Jennings.

Notable External Free Agents: Danielle Hunter, Jerome Baker, Za'Darius Smith, Zach Baun, Benito Jones.

Position Analysis: Edge is a significant position of need for the Patriots this offseason, as both 2020 draft picks Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings are slated to hit free agency. Uche has solidified his role as a designated pass rusher, but was unable to match his 2022 output of 11.5 sacks with just three sacks in 2024. Still, Uche has a skillset that all teams need on the most important down in football.

After an injury to Matthew Judon, Jennings finally got his first opportunities to play a significant role for the first time since his rookie season and he emerged as one of the best early-down edge players in the league, a stout presence who played a big part in New England's strong defensive year against the run.

Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings
Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings

Together, Uche and Jennings would make an ideal three-down player, but both have some shortcomings that could affect their overall usage. Judon is slated to return for one more year but after a contract adjustment last year, he could have some adjustments to figure out this year as well. He'll turn 32 in 2024, further highlighting the long-term need along the edge, especially when it comes to rushing the passer. For all of the defense's successes against the run after Judon was lost, they struggled to get after the quarterback consistently and were a middle-of-the-road team on third down.

All options are on the table this offseason along the edge. They need immediate reinforcements and long-term ones as well. Starting with free agency the team could look to make another big splash like they did with Judon in 2021.

Top players Josh Allen and Brian Burns received the Franchise Tag designation from their respective teams, removing two top options from the open market. Further down the list, the Texans' Jonathan Greenard is coming off a breakout season under DeMeco Ryans. Greenard is an all-around three-down defender and will be just 27 this year. A long-term investment in an ascending player like him would also make sense.

The Cowboys' Dorance Armstrong is another underrate edge player who could make sense with a multiple-year deal. He has long arms and the ability to play up and down the line of scrimmage.

Uche and Jennings should get consideration to return, but even with them back in the fold the overall need for a balanced three-down edge setter and pass rusher remains high. With the bulk of the early draft focus expected to be on the offensive side of the ball, this is probably a spot worth investing in during free agency.

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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