Patriots Missed Out on Ideal Free-Agent Fit, Says Former GM

Getty Myles Jack

The New England Patriots haven’t exactly lit up the headlines this offseason with free-agent moves and according to Heavy’s Randy Mueller, a former NFL general manager, they have already missed out on what would have been an ideal fit on their defense.

I spoke to Mueller on several Patriots-related topics and asked him if there was a free agent New England should be all-in to sign. Mueller called out Myles Jack, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and outlined how he would have been perfect for what ails the Patriots’ defense.

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“The guy for me would’ve been Myles Jack,” Mueller said. “He can run, he can hit, he flies all over the field. That’s the kind of skill set I think is missing from a place like New England. That guy can make up for not being able to scheme every down and can go cover a tight end or even a back on third down.”

Here is a look at the entire interview:

Mueller and I discussed the Patriots’ lack of speed on defense–especially at inside linebacker where they were victimized by mobile quarterbacks and tight ends who were able to make plays in the passing game. Based on Jack’s skill set, it would appear he might have been a strong fit for the Patriots.

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Myles Jack Lands on a Really Talented Defense

Unfortunately for New England, the Steelers locked Jack up with a two-year, $16 million contract after he’d spent the first six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jack has been mostly durable throughout his career.

He missed two games in 2021 and a total of nine over the past three seasons. He has eclipsed the 100-tackle mark each of the last two seasons and three years combined. Jack’s best year was arguably 2018 when he had 107 tackles, an interception, a defensive TD, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, 2.5 sacks and a 10 approximate value rating from Pro Football Reference.

Jack figures to plug right into Mike Tomlin’s defense as the starting middle linebacker. He joins a defense that already has all-world performers in TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Heyward. Jack’s addition helps to make the Steelers even more dangerous on the defensive side of the ball.

Patriots Have a Group of Unproven Young Inside Linebackers

The Patriots won’t have as many surefire contributors on their defense. The middle linebacker job should fall to the newly acquired Mack Wilson unless Raekwon McMillan rebounds from his torn ACL and surges into that spot. There is also the chance that 2021 rookie Cameron McGrone could make an impact.

The jury is also still out on a potential return of Dont’a Hightower. The three-time Super Bowl champion still hasn’t signed and there are rumors him and the Patriots might be headed toward a low-cost reunion.

If Hightower does return and plays a high percentage of snaps in 2022, the Patriots’ defense figures to have some of the same issues it had last season. At 32 years old, Hightower doesn’t appear to have the athleticism the team was missing over the middle.

New England could always find a guy in the NFL Draft who can make an instant impact, but that doesn’t seem likely considering the Patriots could use their first two picks on wide receivers. As we get closer to the draft, New England’s roster looks less and less like a team ready to contend.

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