After retaining some important internal free agents like Joe Thuney, Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater, the Patriots have reportedly made a number of external free agent additions to round out their roster. Those moves include addressing all three levels of their defense while sprinkling in some offensive pieces that will bring some interesting dynamics to their 2020 attack.
We took a closer look at some of them in this film breakdown. It's no surprise that all of the reported acquisitions are strong off-field presences, former team leaders and special teams contributors.
With the team headed into a new post-Brady era, these players will all have the opportunity to carve out significant roles with the team.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week is…
Who is the most intriguing reported free agency addition?
Mike Dussault says…
Phillips hung on for two years as a practice squad player before finally becoming a full-time player in his third season, culminating with an outstanding 2018 season that not only saw him earn All-Pro honors for his special teams work, but make 94 tackles on defense. Phillips was derailed this past season with a broken arm, but remains a prototypical Patriot. He's versatile to play as a safety or linebacker and is a sure tackler.
He should pair with Patrick Chung to make two of the best in-the-box hybrid players with plus athleticism in the league. Phillips is exactly the kind of matchup player you need to deal with the iron of the AFC offenses, including Kansas City, who Phillips saw plenty of in the AFC West. He was also used specifically against Lamar Jackson when the Chargers faced the Ravens.
Phillips checks every box, from on- and off-field fit to defensive need, and it's exciting to see how he fits into a defense that will maximize his versatile skillset.
Paul Perillo says...
There haven't been any big names to get too excited about thus far in free agency but that doesn't mean the Patriots haven't acquired any intriguing players. The one at the top of that list for me is Damiere Byrd.
Byrd is a small but exceptionally fast receiver who has yet to make a real impact in the NFL, but I feel he may have the ability to do so. After spending three seasons in the Carolina organization, both on the practice squad and the Panthers active roster, he moved to Arizona last year and began to show promise.
In his one season with the Cardinals, Byrd caught 32 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown as a secondary receiver. At just 5-9 and 180 pounds, Byrd won't win too many jump balls in the end zone but his track background gives him the kind of speed that can stress a defense. He ran a 4.28 40 at his Pro Day coming out of South Carolina, and if he can adapt to the Patriots system Josh McDaniels may be able to find a role for him to utilize that speed.
Byrd's signing didn't generate many headlines but he could prove to be a valuable piece in 2020.