After investing significant guaranteed money to upgrade a talent-depleted roster, Belichick just secured the crowned jewel of a franchise-altering free-agent haul. Ironically, his latest move will prevent a familiar face from leaving Foxborough anytime soon.
The Patriots paid a premium price to address their needs
In desperate need of help on both sides of the ball, the Patriots entered free agency with the financial flexibility to make a run at the top players available. Still, many wondered whether Bill Belichick would actually get aggressive in using the team’s ample amount of cap space.
He quickly put an end to any speculation about this being another run-of-the-mill offseason for a franchise that typically avoids paying market prices for free agents.
Belichick utilized a sizable chunk of money to sign both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The accomplished tight ends will make New England much more difficult to defend in 2021.
Plus, the Patriots plucked two more proven pass-catchers off the market. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne profile as solid complementary receivers who should fit well in Josh McDaniels’ scheme.
New England’s most expensive investment actually came on defense. Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon will have to deliver big-time production to justify his four-year, $54.5 million deal.
Bill Belichick just secured the crowned jewel of a franchise-altering free-agent haul
Bill Belichick turned heads by taking a radically different approach to free agency this year. Beyond bringing in new players to fill key roles, he also retained longtime contributors who boast plenty of big-game experience.
And on Wednesday, Belichick secured the crowned jewel of what looks like a franchise-altering free-agent haul.
According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots are “working on finalizing” a four-year contract to keep Lawrence Guy from leaving New England. The 31-year-old seemed like he could be headed to the Miami Dolphins, but he will instead return to anchor a defensive line that will feature several new faces this season.
Guy originally joined the Patriots on a four-year, $20 million deal back in 2017. Reiss later reported via Twitter that the veteran’s new contract checks in at a base value of just $11.5 million. Although he has never earned Pro Bowl honors during his career, the former seventh-round pick still earned a spot on New England’s 2010s All-Decade Team.
With Guy set to extend his stay in Foxborough, Belichick capped off an expensive week of transactions by retaining one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL. Tough, durable, and dependable, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound veteran has a chance to make an even bigger impact in his fifth year with the franchise now that he will be surrounded by a far superior supporting cast.
Lawrence Guy will anchor a defense that boasts top-five potential
Assuming the Patriots play a 3-4 scheme, Lawrence Guy should line up next to free-agent additions Henry Anderson and Davon Godchaux. That trio will be tasked with keeping the team’s much-improved linebacker group free to make plays. With Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, and Judon in the mix, the Patriots suddenly have three veterans who can wreak havoc in a multitude of ways.
Of course, an improved pass rush will only make life easier for a secondary that features plenty of intriguing pieces. Despite losing Patrick Chung to retirement, the safety position remains an area of strength. Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, and Jalen Mills headline a deep and versatile group.
Belichick still has business to address at cornerback, though.
Can he figure out a way to make things work with Stephon Gilmore for one more year? Or will a lack of long-term financial security force the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year to seek a fresh start elsewhere?
New England also must decide about J.C. Jackson’s future with the franchise. Will Belichick reward the former undrafted free agent with a lucrative contract extension? Or will the playmaking corner have to settle for a one-year raise on his second-round tender?
While those decisions loom large, the Patriots’ massive upgrades along the front seven make them a major threat to finish the year with a top-five defense. And if the offense takes a significant step forward, they should contend for a Super Bowl title in 2021.
All contract data courtesy of Spotrac.