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The Patriots Sign Jeremy Hill and Adrian Clayborn and the Dynasty is Back ON

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Jeremy Hill
Adrian Clayborn

Bill Belichick, you magnificent bastard. He’s done it to me again. Like the Old Testament God that he is, The Hooded One tests your faith. Makes you doubt him. Fills you with despair. And then rewards those who remain devout.

Every year I’m guilty of getting too caught up in the emotions of the start of free agency. Guys I have an emotional attachment to leave in the early hours. I let myself lose hope. And then, once the initial wave of signings take place – usually involving former Patriots to crazy, cap-busting money to failing franchises desperate to grab headlines and placate their fanbase – Belichick calmly picks up the phone and lands solid veterans at reasonable prices. Not shopping in the remainder bin, necessarily. Just getting the players he needs at a markdown, and filling his cart with everything he needs.

So what have we gotten on the first Friday night of Free agency? How about a 25-year-old running back  in Jeremy Hill? A multi-tool player who can run, block and catch. Who had 1,100 yards as a rookie, led the league in rushing touchdowns as a second year player and a 4.1 YPC average in his career. Rex Burkhead’s former backfield partner who no sooner agreed to sign here before he started recruiting other free agents:

And yet, as solid a move as signing Hill is, I like the Adrian Clayborn even better. In fact, I had a draftcrush on this guy when he came out of Iowa in 2011. I called him the Perfect Patriot in an area of need. Unfortunately they also needed Nate Solder (whom I predicted they’d take) at 17 and the rest of the league thought as much as I did about Clayborn so he went three picks later to Tampa and never made it to the Pats second pick, No. 33. And what they missed out on was a solid, productive, versatile, 6-3 280 lb athletic D-lineman who can move inside or out, rush the passer (30 sacks in 81 career games), stop the run or drop into coverage. Exactly what they need to replenish a Front 7 depth chart drained like a sump pump over the course of 2017.

And the beautiful think is neither Hill, Clayborn or Jason McCourty have broken the bank, so the Patriots are by no means done with the signings. They’re just done, as always, with the crazy signings that mortgage the future just to make the GM look good but get him fired two years down the road. This is the Patriots free agency period we all know and should love. I just lose my shit for a couple of days every year. But it’s always good to be back to normal. #InBillWeTrust

@jerrythornton1