The New England Patriots will enter 2024 with a new coach (we know that will be Jerod Mayo) and a new offensive coordinator (we do not know who that will be), but there’s very little else that can be said for sure about how the Patriots will shape up on the offensive side of the ball, other than they will have a trove of cap space in free agency. The offensive line is a mess and two of its best starters are free agents. There is no No. 1 wide receiver. Both top tight ends are free agents. And the team has no faith in its two quarterbacks.
Those are all difficult holes to fill. But one area that has become easier to address in the NFL is running back, and with Ezekiel Elliott a free agent and Rhamondre Stevenson coming off a disappointing year, the Patriots have the opportunity to sign a player who could give the offense some heft: Giants star Saquon Barkley, who will be a free agent this offseason.
He would not solve all of the team’s many offensive problems—this was the 31st-ranked scoring team and 30th-ranked team in terms of yardage this season—but adding Barkley would give the Patriots a lynchpin as they reconstruct the offense.
Saquon Barkley Could Get $22 Million in Free Agency
The Patriots are on the list of eight favorites to sign Barkley in free agency, and are tied for seventh when it comes to the odds of landing him. According to the gambling site EmpireStakes.com, the Patriots are at 12-to-1 odds to land Barkley, which translates to a 7.7% chance.
Barkley was a Pro Bowl running back in 2022, but slipped in 2023 as the Giants’ offense sputtered. He fought his way through an ankle injury that cost him three games and slowed him down for longer. He finished the year with 962 yards on 247 carries, and posted an average of only 3.9 yards per carry. Those numbers could scare off other suitors, but the Patriots should recognize that Barkley could be in line for a bounce-back year.
When healthy, Barkley is among the best backs in the NFL, and could wind up being a bargain given the unimpressive season he had with the Giants. Barkley is projected at Spotrac to have a market value of $6.6 million per year, and projected to garner a three-year, $20 million contract—very affordable for the Patriots, who have ample cash to spend in free agency.
Pro Football Focus is a little more bullish on the running back market in free agency and is projecting a two-year deal worth $22 million for Barkley. The site rates him as the top running back in free agency this offseason.
Patriots Ready to ‘Burn Cash’
Spending on Barkley could be especially cost-effective, even if the Patriots had to outbid others for his services. They can afford it. The Patriots are among the Top 3 teams in available cap space this offseason, meaning they can be aggressive in attracting free agents and rebuilding the offense. Barkley’s return-on-investment potential is high.
The Patriots will enter free agency with about $70 million available to spend. And Mayo made clear this week, the team intends to make a splash.
“We’re bringing in talent, 1,000%,” Mayo told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show in Boston this week. “We have a lot of cap space and cash. We’re ready to burn some cash.”
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