New England Patriots

November 13, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Part 7: Sign one of the top offensive tackles in free agency

After addressing the wide receiver position in Part 6, it’s time to get to the Patriots’ biggest need for this offseason – tackles. Isaiah Wynn is a pending free agent, and the Patriots can save about $6 million against the cap if they release Trent Brown. It’s the perfect chance to hit the reset button at the position.

If there were ever an offseason to need a tackle, this is a good one. Both the free agency and draft classes are deep. We’ll start in free agency, where top options include left tackle Orlando Brown or right tackles Mike McGlinchey and Kaleb McGary.

Brown has been the picture of consistency since moving to left tackle full-time in 2021. Over the last two years he’s been one of PFF’s highest-graded pass blockers, allowing just 10 sacks in 1,685 pass blocking snaps. Last season, he had just one penalty accepted against him.

McGlinchy fits the mold of a mauling, run-blocking Patriots right tackle. At 6-foot-8, 310 pounds, he’s played a key role in the 49ers’ explosive running game over the last five seasons, while growing as a pass blocker. He was the ninth overall selection in 2018.

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McGary is a bit more boom or bust, struggling for the first three years of his career after the Falcons took him 31st overall in 2019. After his fifth-year option was declined though, he had a career-year in 2022, finishing as PFF’s 4th-ranked tackle.

Because of the depth in this class and the draft class, it doesn’t matter which side the Patriots choose to address in free agency. Obviously getting a higher-level left tackle would be good given the impact of the position, but they could sign one of the two right tackles, save some money, and still be covered on the other side (we’ll get there when we talk about the draft).

All three players are under the age of 28, so long-term contracts are definitely an option. If the Patriots can add one of those three, it would go along way towards stabilizing the offensive line.

Part 8: Other free agency additions

Tackle is the big need for the Patriots, but not the only one. There are a few other positions they should look to.

As we discussed earlier, adding size to the boundary cornerback spot is a must. Bringing in a veteran for that role could also help add some leadership to a young group. Right now, Jamel Dean is expected to be the top cornerback available, so his market could accelerate outside of the Patriots’ budget. But players like James Bradberry and Rock Ya-Sin will also be free agents, and may be realistic to bring in on one-year, prove-it deals.

There’s also players who could be cut before free agency. Stephon Gilmore projects to be a player who could be let go by the Colts. The Patriots already made a reunion with Malcolm Butler happen (albeit a short one), and if there’s no lingering hurt feelings Gilmore would be a great fit.

Free safety is also a need the Patriots may need to fill if Devin McCourty retires. Jessie Bates and Jordan Poyer represent the top players available at the position, but both will be expensive. Instead, the Patriots could look for more of a bridge player in that spot, with guys like Taylor Rapp or Vonn Bell.

Finally, the Patriots might want to add another running back if Damien Harris leaves. It will be a young room with Rhamondre Stevenson, Kevin Harris, and Pierre Strong shouldering the load. A veteran pass-catching back to help spell Stevenson and work with Strong would be a good addition. It’s possible Ty Montgomery will be healthy enough to fill that role, but bringing a player into camp on a prove-it deal just in case he isn’t would be a sensible, low-risk move.

You can check out the full offseason plan below…