GOING TO COST TOO MUCH TOO KEEP:
In 2015 Sheard seemed like a steal. Coming over from Cleveland he had eight sacks and was a great fit opposite Chandler Jones. With Jones traded away, the pressure was on Sheard to step up in 2016. Instead Sheard had a difficult season in 2016. Although he finished with five sacks, he had a troubling DNP-CD during the season.
After being benched for a game, credit Sheard for coming back and working his way out of the doghouse and being a contributor in the playoffs and Super Bowl. However, with a hefty contract and looking for an upgrade at age 28, the Patriots may not have the desire to pay Sheard what he can get on the open market.
After two seasons earning below market value and internal strife with the coaching staff, Sheard is going to look for another team and a substantial raise.
Ryan has gone from exciting rookie, to disappointment benched in the Super Bowl, to surprise starter, to strong play as Super Bowl champion. Ryan is undersized but has long arms and is strong at the line of scrimmage. He is an excellent tackler and can blitz from the slot.
He plays well outside and in the slot. He is a student of the game and is technically sound. He has had big games against larger receivers like Demaryius Thomas and often has matched up with bigger receivers (albeit with safety help).
Ryan is in line for a big payday as competent cornerbacks are at a premium. Although a number two cornerback here, there are enough teams desperate at the position to overpay for Ryan. His ability to play in the slot and outside should only add to his value this offseason. The Patriots may want to keep Ryan, but he is likely to get offers far beyond what they are willing to pay.
Harmon is the third safety in New England but that still makes him a borderline starter. Harmon plays more than 50% of the snaps on defense and his deep center field ability lets Devin McCourty be used in different roles to take advantage of his coverage skills.
Harmon could return at a reasonable backup safety rate, but more than likely he is looking to get a full-time starter job. With his former backup Tavon Wilson cashing in during free agency and starting in Detroit, the market for Harmon should be even stronger.
A deep center field free safety, Harmon would be welcome to return to New England, but with Harmon–like Ryan–they likely have a number in mind that is much lower than what he will get on the open market. Harmon is in line for a starting job–just not in New England.