So far in free agency, the Patriots have been exclusively focused on offense. All four of their external signings so far – wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster, running back James Robinson, and tackles Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson, have been on that side of the ball.
The defensive additions could be on the way soon though. On Thursday, the team is reportedly hosting safety Taylor Rapp for a free agent visit.
Rapp, 25, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. After beginning his career primarily as a box safety, he stepped into LA’s free safety role in 2021 and played over 500 snaps on the back end of the Rams’ defense in each of the last two seasons. In 33 games in that time he has 12 pass breakups and two interceptions, with 122 tackles including four for a loss and 1.5 sacks.
That position change wasn’t anything too new for Rapp. He also played free safety at the university of Washington, where he was a two-time All-Pac-12 defender in 2017 and 2018.
Following Devin McCourty’s retirement, the Patriots have a spot to fill on the back end. While they do have internal options – highlighted by moving cornerbacks Jalen Mills or Jonathan Jones – having a player with experience in what is a crucial role in the Patriots defense should be the preference.
Important traits at that position include the ability to cover a lot of ground, and being a strong tackler. Rapp can do both. Notably he has a missed tackle rate of just 6.3 percent last season, per PFF. That was the seventh-lowest among all qualified safeties in 2022 (McCourty ranked fifth at 5.3 percent). He’s had 92 tackles in each of the last two years, and had 100 as a rookie in 2019.
With the top tackles in this class (Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Jordan Poyer, Juan Thornhill) all having signed, Rapp is the headliner of the next group. Will he end up in New England? We’ll see how his visit goes.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarthor via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.