For the second time in three years, the New England Patriots have the resources to add legitimate talent in NFL free agency.
The Patriots currently have roughly $33 million in cap space, the seventh-most of any NFL team, per OverTheCap.com. They have several needs to address, as well, with offensive line, wide receiver and secondary (if Devin McCourty retires) among their top priorities.
So, which players should they target when free agency begins on March 17? ESPN.com's Matt Bowen ranked the top 50 players in the 2023 free agent class while listing the best team fit for each player, and tabbed New England as the ideal destination for two players: Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor and Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer.
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Here's a breakdown of both players and a look at how they may fit in Foxboro.
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots
Bowen's take: "The Jags could use the franchise tag to keep Taylor in Jacksonville, but he can also fill a major need for Bill O'Brien's offense in New England, slotting in at right tackle position where Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon are both headed to free agency. Taylor has the movement traits at 6-foot-5, 312 pounds to mirror speed and can handle power rushers. And at just 25 years old, Taylor has room for growth, too."
Conor McDermott reportedly re-upped with the Patriots in 2023, but in an ideal world, he'd be the team's backup right tackle, with a player of Taylor's caliber at starter. Taylor only allowed five sacks in 17 starts last season, and New England desperately could use better pass protection for a QB in Mac Jones who struggled under pressure in 2022.
Pro Football Focus projects Taylor's next contract at around four years, $ 64 million ($ 16 million per year). Such a deal would make him the Patriots' highest-paid offensive lineman, but he'd still be a cheaper (and younger) option than Orlando Brown Jr. or Mike McGlinchey if Bill Belichick decides to go the free agency route.
Jordan Poyer, S, Buffalo Bills
Bowen's take: "Here's a fun one. Poyer's multidimensional traits fit with Bill Belichick's scheme as a movable defensive player with deep-field range. Veteran safety Devin McCourty is set to hit free agency, so there is a need here. A highly instinctual defensive back, Poyer could match in coverage, check tight ends or track the ball from post/deep-half alignments in New England."
Patriots fans should be plenty familiar with Poyer, who has been an anchor in Buffalo's secondary alongside fellow safety Micah Hyde. The 31-year-old is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign and could help fill McCourty's void as both a leader and playmaker on New England's back line.
PFF projects Poyer's next deal at two years, $ 17 million, and if his goal is competing for a Super Bowl, he may balk at joining an inferior AFC East rival. But if he's considering all options, this could be an intriguing fit.