Patriots 2022 NFL offseason tracker: Team needs, key dates, in-house free agents, more

The Patriots went wild last offseason and spent a boatload of money to revamp the roster and doubled down on their aggressiveness at the draft by targeting quarterback Mac Jones in the first round. Those moves helped propel New England back into the playoffs after a one-year absence, but their stay in the postseason didn’t last long as they were blown out by the Buffalo Bills in the opening round. As they step into the 2022 offseason, it remains to be seen if they’ll be going gangbusters once again, but they will look to take steps towards building a Super Bowl contender in some form or fashion. 

As the offseason action unfolds, let this be your one-stop guide for everything Patriots-related. Over the next few months, we’ll be updating this post with all the latest news and rumors surrounding New England as they build for 2022. Below, we’ve also identified the positions Bill Belichick will need to put the most emphasis on along with some important dates to keep an eye on. 

Team needs

On the defensive side of the ball, J.C. Jackson and his unrestricted free agent status will be the initial priority. If the Patriots decide against placing the franchise tag on him over the next few weeks, they’ll soon be bidding against the entire NFL for his services going forward, which would swing the pendulum towards him leaving the organization for richer pastures. If Jackson does leave, that creates a massive hole in New England’s secondary that they’ll need to fill with a plug-and-play corner either via free agency, the trade market, or in the first round of the NFL Draft. 

Meanwhile, the Patriots also need to get much faster at the linebacker position. That unit could look entirely different in 2022 with the statuses of Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Ja’Whaun Bentley all uncertain. Being able to find someone who can not only add speed but starting-caliber talent will likely be a route the team goes down at the draft. 

Offensively, the Patriots still need a true No. 1 wide receiver. Even after acquiring Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor last offseason, Mac Jones needs a pass-catcher that opposing defenses will need to scheme against. This offseason, several receivers that fit this characterization could hit the free-agent market in Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, or Allen Robinson. If they were to look in the trade market, Calvin Ridley and Brandin Cooks are two other intriguing options. 

On top of someone to add to the top of the receiver depth chart, New England could use a slot receiver as well. That position has been a staple in the Patriots offense for years and finding someone who can get open off the line of scrimmage and in short, windows would add a new dimension to the offense. 

Key upcoming dates 

  • March 1-7: NFL Scouting Combine from Indianapolis 
  • March 8: Teams have until this date to franchise tag players. 
  • March 16: Free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. EST 
  • April 28-30: 2022 NFL Draft 

Unrestricted in-house free agents 

Reports, rumors, and updates 

Source link