The first season of the post-Tom Brady era wasn’t all too kind for the New England Patriots, who experienced one of their worst campaigns in recent memory in 2020. The club went 7-9, was under .500 for the first time since Bill Belichick’s first season in New England in 2000 and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. In the aftermath of that mediocre season, Bill Belichick has been extremely aggressive in trying to have New England in a position to bounce back in 2021.
In free agency, the Patriots went on a spending spree that the franchise hasn’t seen in its history, bringing in the likes of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to fill out the tight end unit along with linebacker Matt Judon to bolster the defense. With free agency now in the rearview mirror, however, the focus in Foxborough now centers around the NFL Draft. New England’s first selection at No. 15 overall is in, officially kicking the festivities off.
Here’s a look at all of New England’s picks and upcoming selections at the 2021 NFL Draft:
- Round 1, Pick 15 (15) – QB Mac Jones, Alabama
- Round 2, Pick 14 (38) – DT Christian Barmore, Alabama (trade with Cincinnatti)
- Round 3, Pick 33 (96) – DE Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma
- Round 4, Pick 15 (120) – RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
- Round 5, Pick 33 (177) – LB Cameron McGrone, Michigan
- Round 6, Pick 4 (188)
- Round 6, Pick 15 (197)
- Round 7, Pick 15 (242)
As we watch the draft unfold, check out the rest of our offseason hub for the Patriots below. There, you’ll find every piece of information you’ll need to stay caught up with Belichick’s comings and goings. We’ll also have the latest rumors and news along with some dates that you’ll want to circle on your calendar.
Key upcoming dates
- April 29 – May 1: 2021 NFL Draft (Cleveland)
2021 regular-season opponents
*The actual 2021 schedule will be released later this offseason.
In-house free agents
Unrestricted free agents:
In the backfield, the Patriots have two fan-favorites who hit free agency in James White and Rex Burkhead. White was able to re-sign with New England on a one-year deal, but Burkhead is still hanging out on the market. It does seem like Damien Harris is primed for a larger role in 2021, which could make Burkhead expendable.
Free agent scorecard
Free agents the Patriots retained:
- Cam Newton, quarterback
- Justin Bethel, cornerback
- Deatrich Wise, defensive end
- Cody Davis, safety
- Carl Davis, defensive tackle
- David Andrews, center
- Nick Folk, kicker
- James White, running back
- Lawrence Guy, defensive tackle
- J.C. Jackson, cornerback
- Dee Virgin, cornerback
- Jakob Johnson, fullback
- Devin Smith, wide receiver
- Marcus Martin, offensive lineman
Free agents the Patriots signed from another team:
- Jonnu Smith, tight end (Titans)
- Matthew Judon, linebacker (Ravens)
- Davon Godchaux, defensive tackle (Dolphins)
- Jalen Mills, defensive back (Eagles)
- Hunter Henry, tight end (Chargers)
- Kendrick Bourne, wide receiver (49ers)
- Nelson Agholor, wide receiver (Raiders)
- Ted Karras, offensive lineman (Dolphins)
- Raekwon McMillan, linebacker (Raiders)
- Montravius Adams, defensive tackle (Packers)
- LaRoy Reynolds, linebacker (Falcons)
Free agents the Patriots lost to another team:
Players the Patriots signed who were cut by another team:
*It’s important to differentiate between the players signed as unrestricted free agents and those signed after being cut by another team. This is true because players who are signed after being released by another team do not count in the compensatory draft-pick formula for the team that signs them.
Rumors, reports, updates
April 26: Patriots studying Kyle Trask, also looking to trade up
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah noted that the Patriots have been “doing a lot of homework” on Kyle Trask. The Florida product is looked at as a Day 2 prospect and could be an option if the club elects to go in a different direction at No. 15 overall. That said, Trask isn’t the only QB that is capturing New England’s eye as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports that the Patriots have been fielding calls to get into the top 10 with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields being the primary target.
April 16: J.C. Jackson signs restricted franchise tender
According to multiple reports, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson has signed his second-round free agent tender, keeping him under contract with New England for the 2021 season. However, this does set Jackson up for a potentially massive payday in 2022 when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. The 25-year-old has been with the club since they signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has developed into a sturdy piece in the secondary with upside for even more production going forward.
April 12: Julian Edelman retires
Longtime Patriots receiver Julian Edelman announced his retirement from the NFL after 12 years in the league. The announcement came in the aftermath of the Patriots releasing the pass catcher due to a failed physical, which was simply a procedural move prior to Edelman delivering his goodbye address. Edelman noted that a knee injury he suffered in 2020 is the leading cause of why he’s elected to walk away from the game. A prior report from the Boston Herald noted that had Edelman decided to try and play in 2021 he’d likely not be able to play a full regular season.
“I’ve always said, ‘I’ll go until the wheels come off,’ and they finally have fallen off,” Edelman said in his retirement video. “Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot.”
April 8: Brian Hoyer to visit Jets
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer is set to visit the Jets. The 35-year-old spent the 2020 season with the Patriots. In all, Hoyer has spent six seasons in Foxborough over the course of his 12-year career. In the aftermath of the Jets trading Sam Darnold, New York is primed to select BYU’s Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick, and Hoyer could be an ideal journeyman to help the young quarterback develop.
March 24: Patriots lock Guy in for four more years
Mike Reiss of ESPN reports that New England is finalizing a deal with defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. He’ll be tied to the organization through the next four years, pending a physical, per Reiss. In 14 games played last year, the team captain totaled 57 tackles and two sacks.
March 24: Welcome back, James White
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that three-time Super Bowl champion James White has re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal. The veteran will make a fully guaranteed $2.5 million in 2021. White was not as prolific as he’s been in the past in 2020 but that could be due to New England’s poor passing attack and inconsistency under center. In 14 games, he caught 49 passes for 375 yards and a touchdown while adding 121 yards on the ground and two more scores.
March 21: Patriots in on Justin Fields?
During a recent episode of the Move the Sticks podcast, Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah noted that the Patriots have been particularly enamored with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“I keep an eye on somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields,” said Jeremiah. “Those are the two that would make sense for them to target. Hear a lot of rumors out there that they are really high on Justin Fields out of Ohio State. So, they’d have to (trade up) quite a ways to get Justin Fields.”
If New England’s affinity for Fields is true, they’d likely need to trade up considerably from No. 15 overall at April’s draft.
March 19: Raekwon McMillan inks deal with Patriots
According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, free agent linebacker Raekwon McMillan is expected to sign a one-year deal with New England. McMillan is a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins out of Ohio State in 2017 and most recently spent the 2020 season as a member of the Raiders. In 16 games played (four starts), the 6-foot-2, 242 pounder totaled 27 tackles and one forced fumble.
March 18: Patriots re-sign David Andrews
After dipping his toe in the free agent market, David Andrews has re-signed with the Patriots on a four-year deal, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. This is quite the swing for Andrews as it looked like the two sides were set to go their separate ways as recently as Tuesday after they failed to come to a long-term agreement. However, after looking around the league, Andrews decided to come back to Foxborough and the Patriots are now getting one of their biggest leaders back in the fold for the foreseeable future.
March 18: Ryan Izzo traded to Texans
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Patriots have traded tight end Ryan Izzo to the Houston Texans for a 2022 seventh-round pick. With Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith now in the mix at tight end along with 2020 third-round picks Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, Izzo was likely set to be buried on the depth chart so this deal now gives him an opportunity to earn more playing time.
March 18: Patrick Chung retires
It’s the end of an era in the Patriots secondary with safety Patrick Chung announcing his retirement after an 11-season career — 10 of which were played in New England.
“I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches, just everyone,” Chung’s statement reads. “I’m in tears writing this but I’ve decided to hang up the cleats. Bill, Mr. Kraft (mean mug), thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for your team for 11 years. I love you Bill for teaching me life on and off the field, I will not forget that. To my teammates, trainers, EQ team, video guys, meal room employees, janitors, etc., I love you guys and ladies. Thank you for being the rock to the organization. For cleaning up, feeding, taking care of me for 11 years. You will forever be family. But it’s time to start a new life. Patriot until I die!!! Love you all.”
The 33-year-old opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and last played for the club in 2019. Over his career, Chung won three Super Bowl titles in New England and is a member of the Patriots All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
New England announced on Thursday that it has released defensive lineman Beau Allen and wide receiver Marqise Lee. Allen signed with the club last offseason as an unrestricted free agent from the Buccaneers but spent the entire 2020 campaign on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Lee opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
March 17: Kyle Van Noy returns
After being released by the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason, Kyle Van Noy has decided to return to New England. According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Van Noy inked a two-year deal worth up to $13.2 million. Prior to last season where he signed with Miami, Van Noy spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Patriots and was part of two Super Bowl-winning clubs. He now joins what is growing to be a highly talented linebacking group.
March 17: Cody Davis re-signs with Patriots
Core special teams safety Cody Davis has re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old had his son, Kane, announce the news on social media.
March 17: J.C. Jackson receives second-round tender
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that New England has placed a second-round tender on corner J.C. Jackson. This means that the Patriots will either be able to retain Jackson on the one-year tender or be given the opportunity to match whatever offer sheet he may sign on the open market. If they choose not to, the club would receive a second-round pick.
March 17: Ted Karras returns to Foxborough
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Patriots have signed center Ted Karras to a one-year deal worth $4 million. Karras spent the first four years of his career with New England after the club drafted him in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Illinois. He signed with the Dolphins last year but now makes his return following that one-year absence. This move likely foreshadows that David Andrews will be signing elsewhere and Karras will take his place as the Patriots’ starting center.
March 17: Adam Butler inks deal with Dolphins
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, former Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler has signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. The contract is worth up to $9.5 million. This moves reunites Butler with Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who was previously with the Patriots ad the team’s de facto defensive coordinator so the two sides are quite familiar with one another.
March 17: David Andrews to explore free agent options
According to multiple reports, Patriots center David Andrews is expected to explore other options on the free agent market. Andrews has publicly made it known that he’d like to remain with the Patriots but, after working through contract offers with the team, it appears as if the two sides are heading toward a separation. The Miami Dolphins are expected to make a strong run at Andrews.
March 16: Patriots sign Hunter Henry
According to CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora, the Patriots have agreed to terms with former Chargers tight end Hunter Henry on a three-year contract. The deal is worth $37.5 million and includes $25 million guaranteed, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. Henry is now added to fellow tight end Jonnu Smith, who signed with the club on Monday, and forming quite the one-two punch in the passing attack.
March 16: Patriots ‘lurking’ as Leonard Fournette landing spot
According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, New England is ‘lurking’ as another option for running back Leonard Fournette, who also has the Buccaneers and Seahawks pursuing him. The Patriots do have Damien Harris and Sony Michel as the most notable names in their backfield heading into 2021 while James White and Rex Burkhead are currently free agents. For the Bucs in 2020, Fournette came into his own in the playoffs, totaling 448 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns.
March 15: Pats bolster D-line with Henry Anderson
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Patriots have added defensive tackle Henry Anderson to a two-year deal worth $7 million. It has a max value of $11 million in playtime incentives. Anderson sent the last three seasons with the New York Jets. In 16 games played in 2020, the 26-year-old totaled 42 tackles and contributed on a sack.
March 15: Patriots bring in two receivers
After addressing the tight end position by adding Jonnu Smith, New England continued to double-down on adding pass-catching options by signing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots are giving Agholor a two-year contract that will pay him $26 million. Meanwhile, the club also agreed to a three-year, $22.5 million deal with Bourne, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
March 15: Deatrich Wise re-signs with Patriots
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, defensive end Deatrich Wise has agreed to return to the Patriots. Jeff Howe of The Athletic adds that the 26-year-old inked a four-year deal to remain in Foxborough that is worth up to $30 million and includes $10 million guaranteed. Wise is coming off a strong season in 2020 where he totaled 49 tackles, 11 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks in 16 games played (seven starts).
March 15: Joe Thuney signs with Chiefs
Joe Thuney’s days in New England have come to a close with the left guard signing a massive contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, it’s a five-year deal for Thuney that will pay him $80 million.
March 15: Patriots sign DB Jalen Mills
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have signed former Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills to a four year, $24 million deal that includes $9 million guaranteed. Mills switched from corner to safety with Philadelphia and that versatility could be of interest to Bill Belichick as he constructs his secondary for 2021. In 15 games played last year, the 26-year-old totaled 74 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.
March 15: Patriots sign LB Matt Judon
New England’s spending spree continued on Monday with the signing for former Ravens linebacker Matt Judon. According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Judon signed a four-year deal with New England worth $56 million. Judon is one of the league’s most well-rounded linebackers and put together another strong season in Baltimore in 2020. In 14 games played, the 28-year-old totaled six sacks and 50 tackles.
March 15: Patriots sign DT Davon Godchaux
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have signed defensive tackle Davon Godchaux to a two-year deal worth $16 million and includes $9 million fully guaranteed. Godchaux was limited to just five games in 2020 and totaled 16 tackles over those handful of games. When he played a full 16-game season in 2019, he piled up 75 tackles and two sacks for Miami.
March 15: Patriots sign TE Jonnu Smith
New England’s first big splash of free agency came with the signing of tight end Jonnu Smith. According to multiple reports, Smith has inked a four-year, $50 million deal, which makes him the league’s third-highest-paid tight end. For the Titans in 2020, Smith caught 41 passes for 448 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns.
March 14: Marcus Cannon traded to Texans
Jim McBride of The Boston Globe was first to report that Patriots and Texans have agreed to a trade that will send veteran right tackle Marcus Cannon to Houston. In exchange for Cannon, the Patriots and Texans are swapping picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds of the 2021 draft.
March 12: Patriots re-sign special teams ace Justin Bethel
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, New England has re-signed special teamer Justin Bethel to a three-year deal worth $6 million. Bethel joined the Patriots back in 2019 and has proven to be a strong presence along the special teams unit alongside veteran Matthew Slater.
March 12: Cam Newton back for 2021
Jim McBride of The Boston Globe was first to report that the Patriots have re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal, ensuring that the veteran quarterback will be in Foxborough for 2021. The deal is said to be worth $14 million but is largely filled with incentives. While Newton currently looks to be the slam-dunk candidate to be QB1 once next season begins, this move does not totally eliminate New England from exploring other quarterback options this offseason.
March 10: N’Keal Harry on the block?
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, teams have begun reaching out to the Patriots to inquire about the availability of wide receiver N’Keal Harry. The 2019 first-round pick, who still has at least two years remaining on his rookie contract, has not lived up to expectations since arriving in Foxborough. Still, it will be curious to hear what Harry may fetch on the open market and whether or not the level of compensation will be enough for the Patriots to cut their losses with the player.
March 9: Patriots won’t tag Joe Thuney
Unlike last offseason, the Patriots did not place the franchise tag on star left guard Joe Thuney. This comes off the heels of New England acquiring Trent Brown, which could create a domino effect that leads to Thuney’s departure from the organization after five seasons. With the Patriots not placing the tag on Thuney, the 28-year-old will be one of the most sought-after offensive linemen on the market.
March 9: Patriots trade for OT Trent Brown
New England made its first big splash of the offseason on Tuesday by trading for offensive tackle Trent Brown in a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. The Patriots will be getting a 2022 seventh-round pick along with Brown while they’ll send a 2022 fifth-rounder back to Sin City, per Jim McBride of The Boston Globe. Of course, New England is extremely familiar with Brown, who was a key piece to a dominant O-line during its Super Bowl LIII winning season. It will be interesting to see how this trade now impacts the pending free agent status Thuney and possibly right tackle Marcus Cannon, who returns after an opt-out season in 2020.
March 8: Gilmore’s quad injury hampering trade talks
Albert Breer of The MMQB reports that the quad injury that found Stephon Gilmore missing the final two games of the regular season in 2020 is now hampering any potential trade talks surrounding the star corner. Gilmore has been at the center of trade rumors dating to before the start of last season and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported last week that “most GMs have considered it a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade” their No. 1 corner. While this injury is expected to be cleared up prior to the start of the season, it is curious how much this will impact talks and potential compensation heading back to New England.
March 3: Kyle Rudolph interested in New England
According to Doug Kyed of NESN, veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph has expressed interest in playing for the Patriots. Rudolph was released by the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons on Tuesday and is now looking at free agency for the first time in his career. New England reportedly tried to acquire Rudolph as recently as two years ago and given its lack of talent at the position it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it is still intrigued with the idea of bringing him aboard.
March 3: Patriots not enamored with current free agent QB class
As the Patriots look out at the current free agent quarterback landscape, they are not enamored with what they see, according to Michael Giardi of the NFL Network. New England — like a number of other QB-needy teams — are hoping that certain dominoes fall throughout the NFL leading up to the new league year that injects more talent to the pool at the position.
Feb. 26: Julian Edelman wants to play in 2021, uncertainty surrounds knee
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Julian Edelman wants to play in 2021 but it really depends on whether or not his injured knee allows him to do so. The veteran receiver was limited to just six games in 2020 due to that knee, which required a minor procedure to be done in the midst of the 2020 campaign. Per Rapoport, Edelman is continuing to rehab his knee so he’ll have to wait and see how it responds before a final decision is made on where he goes from here.
Feb. 26: Hightower, Chung, Cannon to play in 2021
The Patriots are getting some key reinforcements for next season as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon will all play in 2021. That trio opted out of the 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic but is ready to play going forward. Rapoport added that all three are said to be in a good place physically.
Feb. 22: Patriots calling about every available veteran QB
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that New England has been scouring the quarterback market and has called about every veteran signal-caller who may be available this offseason. Despite the intense search, the Patriots have been “disciplined” in their approach, per Howe, and “so far been thwarted by inflated prices in an offseason that is currently siding with the sellers.”
Feb. 22: Cam Newton open to a Patriots reunion
During an appearance on the ‘I Am Athlete” podcast, Newton noted that he “can’t go out like that,” signaling that he has no plans on retiring from the NFL after a less-than-stellar year with the Patriots. Speaking of New England, he was firm when asked if he’d be willing to return to Foxborough to suit up with the Patriots in 2021, saying “Yes. Hell yes.”
Newton also added that he believes there are not 32 quarterbacks better than him right now, meaning that he expects to start somewhere in the league in 2021.
Feb. 18: Patriots had no real interest in Carson Wentz
The Patriots are very much in the quarterback market, but as Michael Giardi of the NFL Network reports, they had “no real interest” in pulling the trigger on a trade that would land them Carson Wentz, who has since been dealt to the Indianapolis Colts. Wentz’s 2020 campaign didn’t leave much to be desired and the Patriots may have felt that the conditional second-rounder (that could turn into a first) that was the centerpiece of the Wentz trade to Indy, was a bit too rich for their blood.