The New England Patriots have seen some of the free agents leave in recent days. What’s next for them as free agency rolls on.
The New England Patriots entered free agency with a number of key contributors with expired contracts and a number of holes on both sides of the ball. New England needs upgrades to their defense and to maintain their top scoring offense. After an uncharacteristic salvo in free agency last year signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a top-of-the-market deal, many fans were hopeful of another big splash in 2018.
The New England Patriots have begun free agency with a whimper, not a bang. Top free agents Malcolm Butler (Tennessee), Nate Solder (New York Giants), Dion Lewis (Tennessee), and Danny Amendola (Miami) have left for greener (cash-wise at least) pastures. New England lost a starting cornerback, a starting left tackle, their leading rusher, and their clutch slot receiver.
The only free agents retained so far in New England have been a trio of special teams players (Nate Ebner, Brandon King, and Brandon Bolden) and running back Rex Burkhead. Burkhead had limited interest due to his injury issues.
This is nothing new for New England. It is the Patriots’ modus operandi to be bargain-shoppers in free agency. In fact, this has been the way they have operated for almost the entire Bill Belichick era. Being frugal and starting free agency slowly does not mean that the Patriots will not sign a few free agents in the coming days, but it means it is most likely that none will be a huge and ridiculous cash outlay like the ones that took place this week.
New England values compensatory draft picks. Signing other unrestricted free agents works against the accumulation of these picks, especially with the added value to the picks since they are now able to be traded. Keep that in mind over the coming weeks as the Patriots explore players who were released from their contracts (who do not count in the compensatory pick formula) versus players whose contracts expired
Let’s look at some realistic, and unrealistic, targets for the Patriots over the coming week from the remaining free agents: