Top 5 Free-Agent LB Called ‘Good Fit’ For ‘Patriots-Style’ Defense

Getty Foye Oluokun

The New England Patriots desperately need to get faster at the linebacker position. That need could be the reason the team says goodbye to Dont’a Hightower, who is a free agent.

If Hightower isn’t re-signed, the Patriots will need to replace him, preferably with a faster player who isn’t a liability in pass coverage. Perhaps that’s why’s Gregg Rosenthal called the Atlanta Falcons Foye Oluokun a “good fit in a Patriots-style defense.”

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Oluokun doesn’t turn 27 until August and he’s been especially productive as a tackler and defensive playmaker. He was selected in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018 out of Yale. He led the NFL in tackles in 2021 and also had 3 interceptions.

Oluokun’s speed would offer the Patriots’ defense an instant upgrade against the pass and he flows to tackles against the run very well.

Foye Oluokun 2020-21 Highlights || HDAtlanta Falcons Linebacker Foyesade Oluokun's 2020 Highlights More Player Highlights: Career Highlights: Merch ➼

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The question for the Patriots and other potentially interested teams is how much will it cost to ink Oluokun?

Will Foye Oluokun Be Too Expensive For the New England Patriots?

After severely outperforming his modest four-year, $2.6 million deal with the Falcons, Oluokun is set up for a massive raise. Over the Cap evaluated his performance in 2021 and came up with a salary of $8.3 million as a fair rate for him last season–based on his production.

Considering he is likely in the midst of the prime of his career, Oluokun could feasibly sing a deal worth $40 million over four years, or the annual equivalent over two or three seasons. Would that be too rich for the Patriots?

It is tough to say, but when you consider only two players on the Patriots’ roster (Hightower and Devin McCourty) had cap hits at $10 million or more in 2021, you could make the argument this sort of contract offer is unlikely from New England.

However, because Hightower was one of the more handsomely compensated players on the roster, and Oluokun might be his replacement, perhaps there is an argument to be made that he might be the kind of player Bill Belichick will splurge on.

Which Position is Currently the Weakest for the Patriots: WR or ILB?

It is easy to say the answer to this question is WR, but it might not be that simple. Can the Patriots use a better weapon on two at wide receiver? Of course, Nelson Agholor was a big disappointment in 2021. After signing a two-year, $22 million deal in the offseason, Agholor managed just 37 receptions for 473 yards and 3 TDs.

That’s a stat line well beneath what the Patriots hoped they would receive when they signed Agholor. N’Keal Harry has been a disappointment since he was drafted with the No. 32 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. His time with the team is almost certainly coming to an end soon.

Even with that, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne were bright spots. They combined for 138 receptions, 1,666 yards and 7 TDs. Adding to that group would be nice, but it seems as though the Patriots’ defense needs an injection of athleticism in the middle of the field more than Mac Jones needs a new weapon in the passing game.

Later in the 2021 season, teams routinely took advantage of the Patriots’ lack of speed at the linebacker position with crossing routes and even with scrambling quarterbacks like the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen.

That is a bigger and potentially more detrimental hole to fill. That’s why New England must strongly consider Oluokun.

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