Patriots Urged to Sign 16.5-Sack Star to Replace Matthew Judon

Patriots free agency could see star edge rusher Matthew Judon replaced.

Getty Patriots free agency could see star edge rusher Matthew Judon replaced.

Fair to say that after a miserable 4-13 season, a housecleaning of coaches and front-office personnel is not going to be enough to get the Patriots turned around in 2024. Patriots free agency will be critical. The team has ample cash to spend in free this offseason, and if they cut cornerback J.C. Jackson as expected, they could enter the bidding period with $90 million ready to be doled out.

There are likely to be some stars heading to New England with that level of spending cash. And at NBC Sports Boston, team insider Phil Perry outlined an entire plan to revamp the Pats for 2024, including acquiring one of the biggest names on the market, Vikings star pass rusher Danielle Hunter, who racked up 16.5 sacks and led the NFL in tackles for a loss, with 23.

“Perry believes New England should pay up for Hunter, a four-time Pro Bowler who racked up 16.5 sacks and an NFL-leading 23 tackles for loss with the Minnesota Vikings last season,” NBC Sports Boston wrote.

“Perry notes the Patriots could sign Hunter to a multi-year deal that lowers his first-year cap hit to around $13 million, and worry about the rest of his salary later.”

Danielle Hunter In, Matthew Judon Out?

Also of interest in Perry’s breakdown is the possibility that star edge rusher Matthew Judon will land elsewhere next season. Judon, who is 31, missed 13 games last season with a torn biceps muscle, and is heading into the final year of his contract.

He did have 15.5 sacks in 2022, and had four sacks in four games this year, but the Patriots could offer him up to a contender. Judon had made four straight Pro Bowl appearances before last year’s injury.

As NBC Sports Boston wrote: “Perry isn’t convinced that Matt Judon will be back with the Patriots this season after revising his contract last year to lower his 2024 cap hit.”

That would clear the way for Hunter.

“I think he’s that good,” Perry said of Hunter. “Really thrived in Brian Flores’ scheme in Minnesota last year but is consistently disruptive.”

Big Prices in Patriots Free Agency

Not surprisingly, Hunter would be one of the only free-agent additions on the defensive side of the ball in Perry’s plan—adding cornerback Kendall Fuller of the Commanders would be the only other addition, with the team also franchise tagging safety Kyle Dugger.

Hunter would be the most expensive acquisition on the Patriots’ offseason list, as Perry sees it, projecting him to get a contract worth $21 million per year. That is about in line with how Spotrac rates his market value, which is $20 million annually, or a three-year, $60 million deal.

Pro Football Focus has Hunter getting a three-year, $65 million contract and rates him the 12th-best free agent on the market this offseason.

As PFF said of Hunter: “Hunter was a revelation in new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ blitz-heavy scheme, though he was just as productive in 2022. Teams that run a 3 4 or 4 3 could probably find a way to deploy Hunter effectively, and injury concerns of a few years ago seem like distant memories. He finished another season with 900 plus snaps, 70 plus quarterback pressures and double-digit sacks.”

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