Patriots End Up With Three Top Players In ESPN Free Agency Simulation

Signing Golladay, Smith and Ngakoue would be quite the offseason for the Pats


Mar 11, 2021

This could be a franchise-altering offseason for the New England Patriots.

And ESPN is expecting Bill Belichick and Co. to swing for the fences.

After a disappointing 2020 campaign, marred most by anemic offense, the Patriots find themselves with plenty of roster holes. The flip side, though, is they’re also awash with cap space, having roughly $60 million to spend this spring.

So, what will they do? Well, ESPN ran a simulation of free agency, naming the options for a handful of the top free agents. In the network’s simulation, the Patriots land wide receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Jonnu Smith and edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.

ESPN has New England giving Golladay a five-year, $105 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. That would be a reasonable contract to give one of the top wideouts on the market this offseason, especially since it’s such a huge need for the Patriots. But one has to wonder if that’s enough to offset the Matt Patricia effect, which might be off-putting for Golladay.

Smith is the top tight end available this offseason after Hunter Henry (who ESPN simulated to the Jacksonville Jaguars). The network has Smith, who had a breakout campaign as a pass-catcher with the Tennessee Titans in 2020, landing in New England on a four-year, $42.5 million deal with $25 million guaranteed. Perhaps a steep price, but we’ve seen how stagnant the Patriots’ offense can be without useful tight end play in the passing game.

Then there’s Ngakoue, who ESPN predicted will sign with the Patriots on four-year, $60 million contract with half the money guaranteed. He would be arguably the biggest reach of this group, especially if the Patriots think they could solve some of their issues in a more cost-effective way by bringing back, say, Kyle Van Noy. Nevertheless, Ngakoue is one of the best at his position, and would indeed bolster the front seven.

If all of these deals came to pass, the Patriots would be using roughly $46.625 million of their available cap space. That would leave them with little to sign an impact quarterback (beyond a Marcus Mariota type), but would nevertheless address some huge needs across the roster.

We certainly don’t think it would be poorly received if the Patriots brought in three players that were among the top at their position in free agency.

Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images
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