NFL Free Agency isn't over yet, but we're through the first month and a large majority of players have already signed. Though they still have just a few needs, the New England Patriots are among the teams that are pretty much done being active on the open market. The front office didn't have much cap space to work with, but they found a way to make a few major moves.
This grades include trades, retirements, signings, re-signings and releases. With that in mind, here's our free agency grade for the Patriots.
WR Brandin Cooks, TE Dwayne Allen, DL Kony Ealy, LB Dont'a Hightower, CB Stephon Gilmore
Re-signing Hightower was priority No. 1 for them, and the addition of Gilmore gives New England two legitimate lockdown corners. Cooks also gives the Patriots one of the best young receivers in the league - because Tom Brady needed more help. Allen has played to the same caliber as Martellus Bennett to this point in his career, but he's certainly a quality second tight end and can stretch the field. Ealy is also a high-upside pass rusher who in only entering his fourth career season.
TE Martellus Bennett (Packers), OT Sebastian Vollmer (unsigned), DE Chris Long (Eagles), LB Barkevious Mingo (Colts), CB Logan Ryan (Titans)
Yes, losing Bennett will hurt - but they did their best to replace him and rest of these key losses won't be all that bad. Long and Mingo contributed in limited capacities, and Ealy is probably an upgrade. That's also the case with getting rid of Ryan and signing Gilmore.
The Patriots started the offseason as the unquestioned best team in the NFL, and all they did this offseason was strengthen their roster. On paper, this team looks like they'll be unstoppable next year. Expect Cooks and Gilmore to have Pro Bowl seasons next year.