New England Patriots incumbent free agent predictions

Will Joe Thuney join Tom Brady on the road in 2020, away from the Patriots? (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Will Joe Thuney join Tom Brady on the road in 2020, away from the Patriots? (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Which New England Patriots players look like they’re headed elsewhere this month and which ones return to the fold in 2020?

It’s a fascinating time in the history of the New England Patriots franchise these days.

What was once a perennial afterthought in the old AFL and modern NFL became the league’s resident juggernaut superpower at the turn of the millennium thanks to the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

The Pats went on an incredible run from about 2001 to 2007ish before cooling off a bit between 2008 and 2013. They were still top contenders during that second era, but it was around that time that people started openly wondering if maybe the three titles in the early dynasty were all this dynamic duo might be able to muster.

Then of course the floodgates burst open again, resulting in three more titles and four Super Bowl appearances in six seasons between 2014 and 2019.

Now we’re once again at a crossroads with this team … only this time it really does feel different.

Brady is poised to enter free agency for the first time ever. Belichick is 67 years old. A number of high-profile coaches, staffers, and executives have left in recent years, and the franchise has been rocked by a series of scandals and cheating allegations. On top of everything, the team has also suffered massive player personnel loss — most notably in the form of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.

The Patriots enter the month of March and free agency with 16 different players who are either UFAs or RFAs. If you consider that tight end Benjamin Watson might actually retire for good this offseason, the list whittles down to 15.

Which of those players will still be on New England’s roster when OTAs, minicamp, and training camp all get underway this summer, and which will be playing for new teams?

We make our predictions for all 16 of them right here and right now with what we know as of this writing (free agency officially starts in 11 days, with the legal tampering period starting in nine days).

We’ll give brief predictions below for whether 11 of those 16 players stay or go in free agency, with more in-depth analysis dedicated to whom we believe to be the Pats’ top-five free agents right after.

(Note: Some of these players might not end up making the final roster for September, but this prediction is only as it relates to free agency right now.)

Benjamin Watson: Retires

Nate Ebner: Stays

Marshall Newhouse: Goes

Nick Folk: Stays

Ted Karras: Goes

Danny Shelton: Stays

Matthew Slater: Stays

Phillip Dorsett: Goes

Shilique Calhoun: Stays

Elandon Roberts: Stays

James Ferentz: Stays