Finding Potential Future Patriots On Super Bowl LVII Rosters

Should the Patriots target any of these Chiefs or Eagles this offseason?


February 7

New England Patriots fans scanning the rosters of this year’s Super Bowl participants won’t spot many familiar faces.

Combined, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles feature just one active Patriots alum: Chiefs guard Joe Thuney, who spent his first five seasons in New England. There’s a second on Kansas City’s practice squad (Super Bowl-winning defensive tackle Danny Shelton) and a third who recently signed a reserve/future contract with the Eagles (tight end Dalton Keene), but that’s it.

But will there be any future Patriots players in Super Bowl LVII this Sunday night?

As the Chiefs and Eagles prepare for their showdown at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium and the Patriots begin the process of retooling their roster for 2023, here are seven impending free agents — four from KC, three from Philly — who could pique New England’s interest:

OT Orlando Brown Jr.
The Patriots desperately need to beef up their tackle group this offseason, and Brown will be arguably the best one available in free agency. The former Baltimore Ravens draft pick won’t come cheap, but with New England ranking near the top of the NFL in available salary cap space, it can afford to make a big-money investment to fortify that position. The Patriots also should look to add at least one young tackle through the draft, but bringing in a player of Brown’s caliber would go a long way toward solidifying their shaky offensive line.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster, whose Steelers heyday feels like ages ago, somehow is just 26 years old, and he put up good numbers in KC’s star-less receiving corps this season. After injuries wiped out most of his final season in Pittsburgh, he played in all but one game for the Chiefs, catching 78 of his 101 targets for 933 yards and three touchdowns as Patrick Mahomes’ second option behind Travis Kelce. Smith-Schuster isn’t the bona fide No. 1 many Patriots fans are clamoring for, and he wouldn’t even be a clear upgrade over Jakobi Meyers, his co-headliner in this year’s thoroughly mediocre crop of free-agent receivers. But he’s a talented player who should have plenty of quality years left.

S Juan Thornhill
With no obvious Devin McCourty successor on their roster, the Patriots might need to find that player on the open market if their longtime free safety decides to retire. Thornhill doesn’t have the name recognition of fellow free-agents-to-be like Jessie Bates III and Jordan Poyer, but he’s been an effective and durable DB for the Chiefs, missing just one game in his four-year career and playing more than 1,000 defensive snaps this season. The 27-year-old intercepted three passes and broke up six others, posting a Pro Football Focus grade that ranked 26th among qualified safeties and a coverage grade ranked 15th.

RB Jerick McKinnon
The well-traveled McKinnon was a bit player in his first season in Kansas City but emerged as one of the NFL’s most productive pass-catching backs in 2022. Only Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler and Leonard Fournette had more receiving yards, and McKinnon’s nine touchdown catches were tied for sixth-most in the league, regardless of position. No other back had more than five. The Patriots have a budding dual-threat star in Rhamondre Stevenson, but his heavy workload wore him down this season. Adding a player like McKinnon to fill the James White role would help everyone.

CB James Bradberry
Bradberry settled for a one-year, $7.25 million contract last offseason and has flourished in Philly, ranking third in the NFL with 17 passes defended and earning second-team All-Pro honors. Bradberry allowed one reception for every 16.1 coverage snaps, per PFF, second-best among corners with at least 150 snaps behind Defensive Rookie of the Year front-runner Sauce Gardner. At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, he’d provide the size the Patriots lacked at the cornerback position this season, though his issues as a run defender could give them pause. The 29-year-old’s history of performing better in zone coverage than in man could, as well, but New England has gravitated more toward the former in recent years. The Patriots would need to be willing to pay up for Bradberry’s services, however, as he’s likely to command a significant raise.

LB Kyzir White
Like Bradberry, White was part of the offseason influx of veteran talent that helped turn the Eagles’ defense into one of the NFL’s best. A converted safety, the 6-foot-2, 234-pound inside ‘backer tallied 254 tackles over the last two seasons (156 solo) and played more than 800 defensive snaps in each, appearing in every game with eight starts in his first campaign in Philly. The Patriots have Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai returning but lack off-the-ball linebacker depth with Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson headed for free agency.

OT Andre Dillard
Dillard has been a major disappointment since Philadelphia drafted him in the first round in 2020, and he spent this season buried on the depth chart behind standout tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata. The 27-year-old wouldn’t be the proven starting tackle the Patriots should be looking for this offseason. But they need depth at that spot, too, and the once-highly touted Dillard could be worth a flier.

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Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images
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