The New England Patriots have picked their spots at signing free agents this offseason. They spent most of their time re-signing their own players as they reportedly did Thursday by inking a key piece of the offense to a contract extension.

ESPN NFL analyst Aaron Schatz believes there’s one possible move on the table for the Patriots before training camp opens next month. But the New England would have to go outside the organization to obtain the player.

Good news for the Patriots is Schatz picked a player that has familiarity with New England. Schatz, who noted that this wouldn’t be a scintillating move despite New England having ample cap space, believes the Patriots should shore up their secondary by signing old friend Justin Bethel.

“Let’s suggest a depth cornerback who can also help on special teams and bring back Bethel, a former Patriot who spent the past two seasons in Miami,” Schatz wrote. “Right now, the fourth cornerback is former Raven Shaun Wade and the fifth is sixth-round rookie Marcellas Dial, so New England could use some help there.”

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Bethel spent two-plus seasons with the Patriots, but nearly all of his playing time came on special teams. He played just four percent of the team’s defensive snaps in his final season with the Patriots in 2021, which was his high with New England.

Bethel did see some time at corner in Miami’s defense the last two seasons and even recorded an interception in 2022. But like with the Patriots, the 34-year-old was primarily used as a special teamer.

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That would likely be his role again if he returns to the Patriots while adding depth to the cornerback group. That’s certainly not a bad thing, especially after the Patriots were hit hard by injuries and in the secondary last season. Marcus Jones and Christian Gonzalez were both lost to season-ending injuries early in the season and a potential contributor in Isaiah Bolden had his season come to an end before it even started. There were also off-the-field issues for J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones, who was cut during the middle of the season.

Signing Bethel certainly would be far from an eye-popping move, but it would go along with the underwhelming offseason the Patriots had with free agency.

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