Bill Belichick is a changed man. A 7-9 season will do that to you I guess. Gone are the days where the Patriots are shopping for deals. As of today, those days are over in New England. The Patriots are big spenders now.
Armed with over $60 million dollars in cap space, Belichick splurged and in the process landed some of the top names on the free agent market.
Belichick spent $146 million dollars on four players today. To put it into perspective, he spent roughly $360 million dollars on free agents in the last decade.
We have seen Belichick spend before (2003, 2007) but nothing like today. He got out of his comfort zone and went all in on rebuilding a roster that clearly lacked talent last season.
Belichick signed a total of six free agents today. A tight end, nose tackle, edge rusher, cornerback and two wide receivers. Here is a breakdown of each free agent that signed.
Jonnu Smith, TE, 4 years, $50 million: Smith was one of the top two tight ends in this free agent class and the Patriots were able to land with a 4 year deal worth $50 million.
At 6-3 248, Smith is your classic move tight end. He can align anywhere in a formation and create match ups. Smith caught 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He will be one of the Patriots top targets and will a focal point in the red zone like he was this season.
Davon Godchaux, NT, 2 years, $16 million: The Patriots have had a tough time stopping the run the past two seasons and a big reason for that bud they lack a stout nose tackle who can control both A gaps. Godchaux changes that.
He is a wide body with length and strength at the point of attack. He can control two gaps, and stack and shed offensive lineman. He has had some injury issues in his career but if he can stay healthy, he will be a factor in the Patriots front seven.
Matthew Judon, EDGE, 4 years, $56 Million: Judon signed the richest contract for a defensive player in team history today. He is getting $32 million guaranteed. The Patriots worked out Judon while he was at Grand Valley State. Belichick really liked him but the Ravens ultimately drafted him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The 6-3 260 Judon is a versatile player who can rush the passer but also play the run. He is strong at the point attack. He can control blockers or beat them with speed. The Patriots never replaced Chandler Jones or Trey Flowers. They did today with Judon.
Jalen Mills, CB, 4 years, $24 Million: The national media is calling the Mills signing a depth signing but I think it is more than. Mills is either going to replace Jason McCourty or Stephon Gilmore if the team trades him.
Mills is versatile. He can play safety and corner. He has struggled in coverage at times but his versatility and length made him an attractive piece to the Patriots because of all the three safety defenses they play. When you think of Mills, think Eric Rowe.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, 3 years $22 Million: Bourne had several teams interested in his services but ultimately chose the Patriots. Bourne profiles as a number three receiver but with an expanded role, he could out produce that designation.
Bourne is far from a blazer but he is explosive in space and he can make guys miss laterally. Bourne caught a career high 49 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns last season. He should top those numbers with an expanded role in the Patriots offense.
Nelson Agholar, WR, 2 years, $26 Million: Agholar gives the Patriots the vertical threat they they have lacked in recent years. Contrary to public opinion however, Agholar could be much more than that.
Agholar runs a full route tree and could be a factor in the middle of the field in the passing game. Like Kendrick Bourne, he will have a greater role in New England than he did in Philadelphia and Las Vegas.
Agholar can prove that he is more than just a guy who could take the top off of coverage. Agholar had the most receiving yards in his career last season (896) and he tied his career high in touchdowns with eight.
Belichick spent a lot of money today to make the Patriots contenders again. The team still has several other holes that need to be addressed but there is no question. The Patriots are better tonight than they were this morning.