Next Pats Podcast

Perry's bold plan to revamp Patriots' roster in 2024 free agency

New England has the resources to make major changes on both sides of the ball.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Before the New England Patriots decide how to use their highest draft pick since 1993, they need to figure out how to spend Robert Kraft's cash.

The Patriots currently project to have roughly $74.5 million in cap space, per Patriots cap expert Miguel Benzan. If they release cornerback J.C. Jackson -- who dealt with several discipline issues last season -- they could enter Day 1 of NFL free agency on March 13 with nearly $90 million in cap space.

The front office appears to have Kraft's blessing to spend that money; head coach Jerod Mayo recently said his team is "bringing in talent, 1,000 percent" and plans to "burn some cash." But who should that cash be spent on?

Our Patriots Insider Phil Perry laid out a full plan for New England to use that money in free agency on a new Next Pats Podcast.

🔊 Next Pats Podcast: Perry’s plan to spend Robert Kraft’s money | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Here's the rundown of Perry's plan:

Sign WR Calvin Ridley

Projected annual salary: $16.5 million

If the Patriots sign Ridley to a multi-year deal, they could work his Year 1 cap hit down to $8 or $9 million, Perry notes. Ridley missed the entire 2022 season due to a suspension for illegal sports betting but racked up 1,016 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season and would give New England the true No. 1 receiver it has sorely lacked for years.

"I think he has real upside," Perry said of Ridley. "... He can play all over the formation. If you need him play inside, you want him to play to Z, you want him to play the X -- the ability to do that has real juice."

Re-sign OL Mike Onwenu

Projected annual salary: $15 million

Onwenu was a bright spot on the Patriots' offensive line last season, making a seamless transition from guard to right tackle. He'd demand a significant raise, but New England currently doesn't have an offensive tackle under contract, making Onwenu a top priority unless the Patriots want new faces at both tackles spots in 2024.

Sign OT Jonah Williams

Projected annual salary: $16.5 million

Williams is one of the best offensive tackles in free agency and played both tackle positions with the Cincinnati Bengals. Pairing the 26-year-old with Onwenu would give the Patriots two young, solid tackles who could provide some peace of mind for a rookie quarterback like Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels if the team goes that route in the NFL Draft.

"Before I even get to the draft, not knowing what's going to await me at the end of April in free agency, I want to have that spot covered," Perry said of the offensive line. "... Now you at least know you have two starting-caliber, professional NFL tackles."

Re-sign TE Hunter Henry

Projected annual salary: $10 million

The Patriots don't have a tight end under contract for 2024, and Henry is a dependable pass-catcher who could bring some continuity to an offense in flux and serve as an "adult in the room," as Perry put it.

Sign QB Jacoby Brissett

Projected annual salary: $8 million

If the Patriots take a QB with the No. 3 pick, they'll need a veteran backup to serve as his mentor. Perry sees Brissett serving that role well, given his familiarity with New England's system and ability to hold down the fort when called upon (18 for 23 for 224 yards with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions in three appearances with the Washington Commanders last season).

Sign DE Danielle Hunter

Projected annual salary: $21 million

Perry isn't convinced that Matt Judon will be back with the Patriots this season after revising his contract last year to lower his 2024 cap hit. If Judon lands elsewhere, Perry believes New England should pay up for Hunter, a four-time Pro Bowler who racked up 16.5 sacks and an NFL-leading 23 tackles for loss with the Minnesota Vikings last season.

Similar to Ridley, Perry notes the Patriots could sign Hunter to a multi-year deal that lowers his first-year cap hit to around $13 million, and worry about the rest of his salary later.

"I think he's that good," Perry said of Hunter. "Really thrived in Brian Flores' scheme in Minnesota last year but is consistently disruptive."

Sign CB Kendall Fuller

Projected annual salary: $13 million

Perry sees cornerback as an under-the-radar need for New England and thinks Fuller would be a great fit to serve as the No. 2 outside cornerback opposite Christian Gonzalez. That would allow the smaller Jonathan Jones to play slot cornerback and give the Patriots two long, athletic cornerbacks on the outside.

"He is thought to be really smart, high football IQ, tough, can do a lot of the things that the Patriots have liked over the years," Perry said of Fuller, who recorded two interceptions and nine pass breakups for Washington last season.

Franchise tag S Kyle Dugger

Projected annual salary: $16.2 million

With some minor financial maneuvering, the Patriots could sign all of the players listed above and still have the resources to give Dugger the franchise tag. The team also could work to sign the 27-year-old to a long-term deal if they want to keep the veteran safety in New England past 2024.

Also in this episode:

  • The future of Kyle Dugger and Mike Onwenu
  • Ted Karras talks Mike Onwenu and the state of the Patriots
  • Jonathan Jones 1-on-1
Contact Us