Patriots Linked to Two Free-Agent Defensive Linemen

Getty Markus Golden and Timmy Jernigan

Thanks to Rex Burkhead’s contract restructuring and the settlements from grievances with Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots now have just under $8 million in available cap space. While many have suggested the team go after Jadeveon Clowney, others have more conservative ideas. Patriots cap expert Miguel Bezan answered a question posed by NBC Sports Boston that asked what the team should do with its cap space.

This was Bezan’s answer:

Follow the Heavy on Patriots Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!

For those who are unaware, Bezan is referring to interior lineman Timmy Jernigan and defensive end Markus Golden.

Timmy Jernigan

The 27-year-old defensive tackle has spent six years in the NFL. His first three years were with the Baltimore Ravens. The last three, including a Super Bowl championship–at the expense of the Patriots–in 2017 were spent with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jernigan is a bit of smaller defensive tackle at 6’2″ 295 pounds, and that wouldn’t appear to be a scheme fit for the Patriots–at least not at tackle. However, he has played end before from his days with the Ravens. If the Patriots were interested, it would appear that’s where he could spend the bulk of his time.

However, Bill Belichick is a wizard on defense and the Patriots often use exotic fronts that have a way of taking advantage of a versatile player like Jernigan’s qualities. Back in 2014, Huzaifa P of Pats Pulpit tabbed Jernigan out of the draft as a good fit alongside Vince Wilfork. On the 2020 team, he’d likely split reps with Adam Butler.

Obviously, that didn’t happen as the Patriots chose Florida’s Dominique Easley with the No. 28 pick in the first round.

Easley lasted two non-descript seasons with the Patriots before heading to the Los Angeles Rams for the 2016 season. He missed 2017, played in 2018 for the Rams, but was out of football last year as multiple knee injuries seem to have ended his career.

Jernigan was selected in the second round by the Ravens, so it’s pretty easy to see the team would have likely gotten better value out of taking him over Easley.

Markus Golden

Over his five-year career, Golden has proven himself to be a consistent pass rusher. Whenever he’s been healthy, he’s been good for a double-digit sack performance. Case in point, Golden recorded 10 sacks for the New York Giants. It was just the second time in his career he’d played in all 16 games, and thereby his second-highest sack total.

In his second NFL season, Golden had a career-high 12.5 sacks for the Arizona Cardinals. In 2019, Golden and the Giants played the AFC East and the pass rusher performed well. In fact, against the Patriots, he had a sack and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in a 35-10 Week 6 loss to New England. Even in defeat, there’s a good chance Golden made a good impression on the Patriots.

Questions about his ability to stay healthy could have a lot to do with why he’s still not signed. That’s why the one-year deal Bezan is suggesting could be such a good idea for the Patriots. If they can get a motivated Golden in on a one-year deal packed with incentives, that don’t even count toward this year’s cap, they could have a goldmine on their hands.

Let’s watch to see what the Patriots do with their newfound cash.

Also Read: