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New England Patriots ‘ready to burn some cash’ in free agency: 5 players they could target including Saquon Barkley

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Credit: USA Today Network

The New England Patriots are set to have a bunch of money to spend in free agency this offseason, and the team’s new head coach has already admitted that they plan to wheel and deal to improve the roster for 2024.

The Patriots organization is in the midst of a major shift in approach and style. After 24 unforgettable seasons, the franchise and legendary head coach Bill Belichick decided to bring their relationship to a close earlier this month. And as was rumored for years, assistant coach Jerod Mayo was named the successor to the six-time Super Bowl winner last week.

Related: Bill Belichick’s son Steve projected to fill key role on New England Patriots coaching staff in 2024

Mayo is a coach who has a lot of respect inside the organization and around the NFL. However, he also takes over a very messy roster that needs upgrades in several areas. But the 37-year-old is taking over the reins at just the right time.

The team will have the third overall pick in April’s NFL Draft and is likely to land elite quarterback prospects Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye to address their major flaw at QB. Furthermore, New England will have over $70 million to use in free agency and Mayo revealed during an appearance on radio station WEEI this week that the team is “ready to burn some cash” to improve the roster.

The organization could use improvements at offensive tackle, wide receiver, and in the defensive secondary. But the offensive line market is underwhelming and they may choose to address that need in the draft. They also need some game-breaker talents out of the backfield, and there are a pair of Pro Bowlers available.

Related: Bill Belichick reportedly didn’t want New England Patriots to pick Mac Jones, targeted another QB in 2021 NFL Draft

With all of that in mind, let’s look at five players the New England Patriots could target during an expected spending spree in NFL free agency in March.

5 players New England Patriots could target with over $70 million cap space

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Credit: USA Today Network

Saquon Barkley

There is always risk in spending big bucks on running backs. However, with the team likely to get a top QB prospect on a team-friendly contract in April, getting a running back to make their lives easier in his first few seasons would be very beneficial. One of the very best backs available this offseason is New York Giants star Saquon Barkley.

If the Giants don’t re-sign Barkley, being able to stay close to home could be a major draw for the New York native, and the two-time Pro Bowler’s ability to be a passing threat out of the backfield would be a huge plus in Daniels or Maye’s rookie season.

Michael Pittman Jr.

A wide receiver is a necessity for the Patriots in NFL free agency and Michael Pittman Jr. would be a high upside and affordable option. Receivers get big contracts in this day and age, however, Pittman Jr. won’t be as expensive as Tee Higgins and Michael Evans are expected to be in March. While he is not as good as either yet, he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl-level pass catcher.

Tee Higgins

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If the Patriots wanted to really go for a home run free agent signing, Tee Higgins would be the best option if the Cincinnati Bengals don’t re-sign or franchise tag him. While Evans has a better resume, he is at the end of his prime at 30. However, Higgins is just entering his at 25 and as the No. 1 receiver on a team, he has superstar potential.

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antoine Winfield Jr. is one of the best up-and-coming stars out of the secondary in the league right now. He is a one-time Pro Bowler and earned All-Pro honors in 2023. The 2020 second-round pick became one of the anchors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense this season and he would fill a need and offer a player with huge potential for the New England Patriots next season.

L’Jarius Sneed

While he hasn’t earned Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors yet during his career, L’Jarious Sneed became a key part of an elite Kansas City Chiefs defense this season. Cornerbacks are always at a premium nowadays and impact cover men can improve a team’s pass rush by giving them more time to work. Sneed won’t come cheap and could be a top re-sign target for the Chiefs, but he would be worth making a priority in free agency.

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