New England Patriots: internal free agent preview

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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The New England Patriots have a number of tough decisions to make regarding a larger-than-normal pool of internal free agents this offseason.

The New England Patriots are well into their offseason already. As usual, they are struggling to catch up to the 30 other teams who were not fortunate enough to play into February. With the Scouting Combine ending last week and free agency just days away from officially kicking off, the Patriots certainly have their work cut out of for them as they plunge into the “offseason.”

This past week saw the deadline pass for NFL franchises to apply the franchise (or transition) tag to keep their own priority free agents from hitting the open market. Some of the best pass rushers available were removed from the market when they received the tag. New England had until March 5 to decide if they were going to apply a tag to any of their own internal free agents, and once again, they elected not to do so.

As a result, the Patriots have a large number of internal free agents they’ll need to make tough decisions on in the coming days. Will they look to retain those players or replace them? The answer will most likely vary wildly from player to player.

While New England can free up cap space easily by letting a bunch of these players walk, they also need to balance financial considerations with a desire to remain talented and competitive around the NFL  in 2019. Disappointing tight end Dwayne Allen has already been let go (and since signed with the rival Miami Dolphins); Michael Bennett is reportedly set to be traded over from the Philadelphia Eagles; and word broke today that Trent Brown has supposedly agreed in principle to become a member of the Oakland Raiders.

To get ready for the frenzy, here are the Patriots who are scheduled to become free agents on March 13, along with an overview of their impact on the team, the expected cost to keep them, and a final verdict on whether the Patriots should keep them or cut them loose.