Coming off of yet another Super Bowl win with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady leading the way, the New England Patriots still aren’t satisfied. They are already looking ahead to next season trying to figure out how they can repeat as champions. That mindset is exactly what has made them one of the most dominant franchises in the modern era of football.
Speaking of the Patriots looking to win another championship, they will be searching for roster additions that can be made to improve their chances of doing just that.
Looking ahead at the upcoming free agency market, there are quite a few players that the Patriots could target. There are a lot of players who would be safe pickups, as well as some players who have issues on and off-the-field that some teams won’t touch. Belichick has never been scared to pick up players that other teams would view as headcases.
New England has also become one of the most sought after landing spots for veteran free agents. They can offer any veteran the chance to compete for a championship and have the track record to prove it.
All of that being said, which five players could be potential 2017 NFL free agency targets for the New England Patriots?
LeGarrette Blount, Running Back
First and foremost, finding a way to bring LeGarrette Blount back should be the Patriots’ top priority. He was a major threat for the New England offense in 2016, carrying the football 299 times for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. Blount would love to return to the Patriots and it is widely expected that the two sides will figure something out.
Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker
At 26-years-old, Dont’a Hightower is another free agent that the Patriots should re-sign. He racked up 65 tackles last season to go along with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Hightower has star potential and the Patriots cannot afford to lose too much more at the linebacker position if they want their defense to stay solid in 2017.
Brian Quick, Wide Receiver
Bringing in more weapons for Brady is always a good option for the Patriots to take a look at. Brian Quick could be the right receiver at the right price, with Spotrac.com projecting him to receive a deal worth around $5.6 million annually. Quick caught 41 passes for 564 yards and three touchdowns with the Los Angeles Rams last season and would be a solid pickup for New England.
Manti Te’o, Linebacker
If the Patriots do decide to let Hightower walk, they could show interest in former Notre Dame superstar Manti Te’o. He has not had a successful start to his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers and totaled just 17 tackles in three games last season. Te’o is just 26-years-old and perhaps joining the Patriots could turn his career around.
Sam Shields, Cornerback
The Green Bay Packers decided to release Sam Shields due to his inconsistency and injury issues. New England would be wise to swoop in and try to scoop him up on a team-friendly contract. Shields would be a huge addition to their defense, as he has been one of the top cover corners in the NFL over the last few seasons when he has been healthy.
Expect to see the Patriots active once again this offseason when free agency opens up. New England will get a few players on bargain deals and should be able to keep one or two of their own key free agents. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots are in the mix for yet another Super Bowl appearance next season.
Do you think the New England Patriots should target one of these five free agents? What other names would you add to the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini]