5 targets for Patriots in 2022 NFL free agency

New England Patriots, NFL Free Agency

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Matthew Slater, New England Patriots

Matthew Slater, New England Patriots. (Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

The New England Patriots could look to improve its roster by way of 2022 NFL free agency.

Though they are not swimming in cash, the New England Patriots could be a big player in NFL free agency once again.

New England is roughly $7.3 million in the black when it comes to the 2022 salary cap. Bill Belichick and the rest of the front office will must cut a few of players to be able to sign its rookie class, as well as add a few interesting pieces in free agency. Because the Patriots do a better job of scouting other teams’ players than most, they have long been a participant in NFL free agency.

Here are five players the Patriots should look to acquire once the new league year finally arrives.

New England Patriots: 5 players to target in 2022 NFL free agency

5

Matthew Slater

ST New England Patriots

Matthew Slater has been their ultimate special teams tone-setter for years

Though he will be entering his age-37 season out of UCLA, what are the Patriots going to do when special teams ace Matthew Slate finally retires? While getting into Canton is almost impossible for special teams players, Slater has an outside shot of joining his hall-of-fame father Jackie in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. For now, the Patriots need to bring back their ultimate tone-setter.

With Tom Brady long gone, Slater is the longest-tenured player of note on this team. Not to say that Belichick can lean on him as much as he could with The GOAT, but if the 10-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion can be coached hard into his late 30s, nobody is beneath being coached up on this New England roster. If Slater wants to keep on playing, let him do so.

Eventually, Slater will lose his foot speed and the tenacity that makes him such a transformative special teams player. For that reason, the Patriots may want to go year-to-year with him at this point. Though Slater has already accomplished everything he could have ever hoped for as a career special teamer, the Patriots are in need of veteran leadership to help usher in a new era of football.

Few players over the Belichick era have epitomized The Patriot Way quite like Slater has for them.

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