In a year where the salary cap was a problem for many teams, the New England Patriots were able to spend a lot of money in free agency to revamp the roster. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season and are looking to return to the postseason in 2021.
Despite handing out some lucrative contracts in March, there are still some players whose quality outweighs their price.
Here are the five best-value contracts for the Patriots in 2021
#1 - Damien Harris, RB
Harris was a third-round pick a year after Sony Michel was picked on the first night, but his position as the starter looks clearer day-by-day. The Patriots like using multiple running backs, but reports coming from New England suggest that Harris will lead the team in snaps.
He's still on his rookie contract, and since he wasn't a first-round pick, his price is meager. His cap hit in the next two years is just over a million dollars, a small cost for a starter and a player of his quality.
#2 - Jakobi Meyers, WR
Meyers showed promise as an undrafted receiver in 2019, but his breakout season last year solidified his place on the roster for quite some time.
While he still hasn't caught a touchdown pass, he's already amassed more than 1000 yards during his two seasons in the league, with 59 receptions and 729 yards in 2020 alone.
The Patriots were short on receiving options the last couple of years, which provided Meyers time to develop and show what he's capable of. Even with new signings Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, he'll feature in the Patriots' starting lineup this season.
#3 - J. C. Jackson, CB
J.C. Jackson is underrated due to Stephon Gilmore's presence, but he is one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Jackson is a playmaker in the secondary. He has 17 interceptions and 30 pass deflections since 2018. He's due to receive a big contract next offseason, but his second-round tender this year pays him only $3.38 million. He'll be looking for a $10+ million-per-year contract next year.
#4 - Michael Onwenu, OL
Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Patriots in 2020 was drafting Onwenu, who instantly became a star and one of the best linemen on the roster. The sixth-round pick alternated between guard and tackle and was really solid in both spots.
He'll now play left guard as a replacement for Joe Thuney. To have a lineman who's solid, versatile and will cost less than a million dollars is a stellar deal.
#5 - Mac Jones, QB
As always, a starting quarterback on a rookie contract is the best financial asset an NFL team can have, and the Patriots will have Mac Jones in this situation for the next four years.
It's likely he'll see some action as a rookie during 2021. If he develops into a star in the next couple of years, the Patriots will be able to load their roster even more as they won't have to shell out a lot on their quarterback.