Better late than never, I suppose. As is often the case with the Patriots, they got a late start to the free agency sweepstakes and are now playing catch-up.
Late Friday, New England tried to fill vacancies created in part by several key free agent departures earlier in the week. The Patriots signed three players at positions where they have perceived needs, the most high-profile of which is defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Clayborn (6-3, 280) is entering his eighth NFL season, the last three of which he spent with the Atlanta Falcons. While not an elite pass rusher, the veteran who'll turn 30 in July brings solid experience and depth to the Patriots roster.
On the other side of the ball, former Bengals running back Jeremy Hill confirmed reports that he's signing with New England when he posted this Tweet directed a one-time Cincinnati teammate Rex Burkhead, who re-signed with the Patriots this week.
A big, bruising ball carrier at 6-1, 230 pounds, Hill saw his fourth and final NFL season come to a premature end last year in Cincinnati due to an ankle injury after just seven games. However, Hill enjoyed an otherwise productive career as a Bengal and could challenge incumbent Mike Gillislee for a roster spot in the New England backfield.
As the day and the first week of 2018 free agency came to a close, the Patriots inked a deal for a versatile offensive lineman, Matt Tobin, as first reported by The Providence Journal.
The 6-6, 300-pound Tobin played for Seattle last year after four seasons with Philadelphia. It might be unrealistic to expect Tobin to replace Nate Solder as New England's starting left tackle, but he at least brings some needed depth and competition to the o-line.
They might not be household names, but the players the Patriots added should help plug up some holes in the roster and could provide important contributions this coming season.