After a slow start, the sleeping giant has apparently awakened.
The New England Patriots have dipped their hand into the free-agent pool by signing a trio of free agents on Friday. While the Patriots don’t often splash around in the big-money end of the free-agent pool, they usually do their damage on the lower tiers. With the moves they made on Friday, they did just that. In the process, they helped to fill some recent voids and improve their roster.
Clayborn Should Help Bolster Pass Rush
Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Patriots agreed to terms with defensive end Adrian Clayborn. A source confirmed this to Garafolo on Friday. Ian Rapoport, also of the NFL Network, later reported that the agreement with Clayborn will be a two-year deal worth $12 million.
Clayborn is coming off a promising campaign with the Falcons in which he notched a career-high 9.5 sacks. Before spending the past three years in Atlanta, Clayborn was a defensive starter for the Buccaneers, who made him their first-round pick in 2011.
In New England, Clayborn will join a cast of pass-rushers led by Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, and Eric Lee. The Patriots were justifiably on the hunt for players who can get to the quarterback. Clayborn was arguably the best edge rusher available in free agency this year. His addition to the Patriots pass rush should make their attack much more formidable in 2018.
Jeremy Hill Joins the Backfield
As reported by ESPN’s Field Yates, running back Jeremy Hill has also agreed to join the New England Patriots. Hill spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hill played in just seven games last season due to an ankle injury, running for 116 yards on 3.1 yards per carry. The veteran back was limited in action in 2017, as he opted to have midseason ankle surgery.
Hill’s legacy in Cincinnati will always be defined by a critical fumble in a 2015 Wild Card Game. If there’s anything that gets a player in Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse, it is turning the ball over. While Hill surrendered the football eight times in his first two regular seasons, he has turned it over only once in the last two. In order for him to succeed in New England, that positive trend must continue
Hill has shown that he can be the featured back. Without Dion Lewis having departed for Tennessee, New England will be looking for a running back to lean on in big situations. When the Patriots are in short-yardage situations or at the goal line, Hill can pound the ball and pick up tough yards. He should be a nice complement in the backfield to his former Bengal teammate, Rex Burkhead, as well as Super Bowl LI standout James White.
Tobin to be a Bridge Over Troubled Water?
The Patriots have agreed to terms with their third free agent of the day, getting offensive tackle Matt Tobin in the fold, Mike Reiss of ESPN reports.
Tobin, 27, spent four seasons in Philadelphia after signing as an undrafted free agent. He spent last season in Seattle after the Eagles traded him. Throughout his career, Tobin has played 57 games with 21 starts. He played 15 games in 2017.
Tobin will certainly be a welcome addition to the offensive line. He can be expected to compete for the left tackle position vacated by Nate Solder, who signed with the New York Giants earlier in the week.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the NFL and the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC