During the Patriots tenure featuring Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, New England was an attractive landing spot for external free agents.

They got to play for the greatest quarterback and the greatest coach of all time, and for an organization where winning was more or less a weekly occurrence.

That’s no longer the case in Foxboro, Mass. The Patriots are in the beginning stages of a rebuild with a first-year head coach in Jerod Mayo, a first-time de facto general manager in Eliot Wolf, a question mark hovering over their quarterback depth chart and a team coming off its worst season in more than two decades.

The Patriots need new “magnets,” as Mayo put it.

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“One thing I would say as you go through the draft is you want to get guys that are magnets,” Mayo told reporters Monday morning during the NFL league meetings in Orlando, Fla., per the Patriots.

“I played with the ultimate magnet in Tom Brady, where guys wanted to play for Tom, with Tom and with the team,” Mayo continued. “So, it kind of gets skewed and now it’s the other end of the spectrum. Like what pieces do we have to attract those outside guys?”

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New England was not a key player in the free-agent market this offseason, despite having the funds to do so.

In their pursuit of Calvin Ridley, the top wideout on the open market this offseason, the Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans. New England reportedly was just $1 million shy in average annual value, portraying a respectable offer, but it wasn’t enough.

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Instead, the Patriots retained many of their players with arguably their two biggest external signings being Jacoby Brissett and K.J. Osborn, both of whom are on one-year deals. Running back Antonio Gibson landed a three-year deal from the Patriots, too.

Mayo acknowledged the “unknown” is scary for a lot of NFL players. And the Patriots qualify as such with so much turnover this offseason.

One way to make it less of an unknown in the future is by acquiring those sorts of magnets. And one way to do so is by hitting on draft picks and developing their talent, Mayo said.

“Look, once again, if we draft a guy, you’re coming here,” Mayo said with a smirk. “And so that has to be our philosophy as we continue to put this thing together.”

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Mayo is confident the Patriots can address some of their most glaring needs in late April. New England’s biggest holes — quarterback, offensive tackle, wide receiver — are some of the biggest areas of strength in this year’s class. With eight total picks including the No. 3 overall selection, perhaps one or two draftees become the “magnets” Mayo and company seek.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images