The NFL’s legal tampering period is underway. Here are 12 free agents who could be good fits for the New England Patriots:
Eric Ebron, tight end, Indianapolis Colts
He won’t offer much as a blocker, but Ebron is a talented pass-catcher who’s just one year removed from a 13-touchdown season. Spotty quarterback play in Indy contributed to his lackluster 2019 stat line (31-375-2).
Emmanuel Sanders, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
The Patriots have had their sights set on Sanders for years, and at age 33, he shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. Sanders has surpassed 800 receiving yards in five of the last six seasons and proved to be an excellent midseason pickup by the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in 2019.
Tyler Eifert, tight end, Cincinnati Bengals
Oft-injured throughout his NFL career, Eifert just played a full 16-game schedule for the first time since he entered the league in 2015. He’d be a risky pickup but would be worth a flier for a Patriots team that definitely needs tight end help.
Delanie Walker, tight end, Tennessee Titans
Injuries limited Walker to eight games over the last two seasons, but the 35-year-old earned Pro Bowl nods in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and will contribute as a blocker and pass-catcher when healthy. If New England believes he can stay on the field, he could be an intriguing buy-low option.
Randall Cobb, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
Cobb, an experienced and accomplished slot receiver, posted solid numbers in his first season with Dallas, catching 55 balls for 828 yards and three scores as the third option behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. He turns 30 this summer.
LaAdrian Waddle, offensive tackle, Buffalo Bills
There will be more talented tackles available, but Waddle has started games for the Patriots and will be dirt cheap after missing all of last season with a torn quad. Tackle depth was a real issue for New England in 2019.
Michael Pierce, defensive tackle, Baltimore Ravens
One of the NFL’s better run defenders, Pierce would fill a need for the Patriots. New England could use another big body up front, especially if Danny Shelton signs elsewhere.
Markus Golden, edge rusher, New York Giants
Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics don’t favor Golden — he was their 84th-highest-graded edge rusher in 2019 — but he turned in a 10-sack season with 13 tackles for loss and 27 QB hits for a bad Giants defense. The 29-year-old also tallied 12 1/2 sacks for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016.
Carl Nassib, edge rusher, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After an inauspicious start to his career in Cleveland, Nassib totaled 12 1/2 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and 25 QB hits over his two seasons in Tampa. At 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, he’s one of the tallest and longest edge rushers in the NFL.
Nick Kwiatkowski, linebacker, Chicago Bears
Kwiatkowski had a career year in relief of an injured Danny Trevathan in 2019, and with the Bears signing Trevathan to an extension, they’re likely to let the 26-year-old walk. Kwiatkowski started eight games and played in all 16, setting personal bests in tackles (76), sacks (three), tackles for loss (eight) and pass breakups (four). The Patriots have needs at both inside and outside linebacker with Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts all headed for free agency.
Margus Hunt, defensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts cut Hunt on Monday after a rough 2019 season. The 32-year-old Estonian native was great in 2018 (five sacks, 13 TFLs), and his athletic traits could appeal to the Patriots.
Vonn Bell, safety, New Orleans Saints
The Patriots re-signed Devin McCourty but still could use some help at the safety position. The 25-year-old Bell is a very good run defender who could spell — and eventually replace — Patrick Chung, who turns 33 this offseason and has battled various injuries over the last two seasons.