The Patriots have 22 players set to hit unrestricted free agency when the NFL league year opens March 17. As that date approaches, we?re taking a closer look at New England?s free agents.
Up next: wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
2020 stats: one catch, 15 yards, seven kick returns, 165 kick return yards
Likelihood of return: moderate
Analysis: The Patriots absolutely need wide receiver help, but they also need to aim higher than Moncrief.
Moncrief is also an interesting case study in the dangers of free agency. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Moncrief to a one-year deal worth $9.6 million in 2018, and he had a decent season with 48 catches for 668 yards with three touchdowns. The next offseason, he signed a two-year deal worth $9 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he was promptly cut in November. He’s since bounced around the NFL and spent time on practice squads.
So, while a player might seem worth $9 million now, he could become the next Moncrief in the matter of months or years.
It would have been nice to see Moncrief get more playing time in the Patriots’ offense last season. It’s not as if the Patriots were loaded at the position, yet Moncrief only received 25 total snaps on offense.
He actually was more valuable on special teams, getting on the field for 75 snaps with seven kick returns for 165 yards, including a long return of 53 yards.
It definitely wouldn’t be surprising if Moncrief was re-signed and spent training camp and the preseason with the Patriots. He made a strong impression in his limited time in Foxboro last season, and it’s also unlikely he will get a better offer on the open market. If Moncrief signs a veteran minimum contract, he’d only subtract about $300,000 from the Patriots’ $60 million in cap space.
Just two years ago, the Steelers were ready to pay Moncrief $9 million over two years. He’s worth a flier for a minimum deal if no other team comes calling with a better offer.
Previous free agent profiles: LG Joe Thuney, RB James White, DT Lawrence Guy, C David Andrews, CB Jason McCourty, RB Rex Burkhead, DT Adam Butler, DE Deatrich Wise, OL Jermaine Eluemunor, WR Damiere Byrd, K Nick Folk, QB Cam Newton, CB Justin Bethel, DE John Simon