ESPN recently had NFL Nation writers make predictions for all 32 teams this offseason. What was the offseason prediction for the New England Patriots?
After winning Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots will be focused on the offseason. Due to the success in the playoffs, they are behind in their offseason preparation.
As many teams that win the Super Bowl, the Patriots have a few key free agents. One of the reasons why the Patriots had so much success in 2016 was because of their defense. At all levels, the Patriots had good players that helped result in them having one of the best defensive units in the NFL.
Unfortunately, most of the free agents for the Patriots are on that side of the ball. While players like Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch are unrestricted free agents, the Patriots also have cornerback Malcolm Butler as a restricted free agent.
Butler made a name for himself in the Patriots’ Super Bowl win against the Seattle Seahawks. He was famously able to intercept the Russell Wilson pass on the goal line. Since then, Butler has emerged as a star.
"This is pure guesswork, and not based on any inside information, but Butler is too valuable to simply assign the first-round tender as a restricted free agent and think another team wouldn’t pursue signing him to an offer sheet (particularly a team that drafts low in the round). Butler has become New England’s clear-cut No. 1 cornerback, and the Patriots need to protect one of their best assets by making an extension a priority. — Mike Reiss"
As one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, keeping Butler will be important for the Patriots. Butler was able to frequently cover some of the top wide receivers in the league. Also, he was a playmaker in the secondary.
With a need to keep their defense intact, signing Butler should be a top priority. The Patriots will have a busy offseason ahead of them, keeping Butler appears to be something that they must do.