With the conclusion of NFL football played every Sunday, fans turn their attention to free agency, which year after year, always ends up as a surprise in one way or another; whether it’s a big name free agent signing a record breaking contract, or a blockbuster trade that shocks the league, free agency always delivers.
An exciting sight to see, the moves each team make in an effort to improve their team for the upcoming season results in months of questions and debate over whether or not the trade is beneficial for the teams moving forward, in addition to what these trades will cause teams to do in the impending draft. Starting March 11, teams will have permission to reach out to players that are currently on another team but have an expiring contract in an effort to try to sign those players to a new deal. The official start to the new league year begins March 13 at 4 p.m. (EST)
In the case of the Patriots, their two biggest upcoming free agents are defensive end Trey Flowers and offensive left tackle Trent Brown. On a defensive line that lacks a lot of depth, the Patriots prioritizing resigning Flowers to a contract extension is crucial. The stud defensive end played a huge role in the Patriots’ playoff run and recorded countless big plays that led to their success this past season. In weeks two and three of the regular season, when New England took consecutive losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, New England struggled to get to the quarterback, which evidently was a cause for the Patriots not being able to get the defense off the field and give Brady and the offense time to work with the ball. Flowers did not play in either of those games, and it is fair to say that’s not a coincidence.
Aside from Flowers, the core of the defense, including the likes of linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, safety Duron Harmon, cornerback J.C. Jackson and safety Devin McCourty (if he decides to come back for another season) will still be under contract for at least the 2019 season. Going into this offseason the Patriots should target more depth at wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and the defensive line. If the Patriots are able to retain Trey Flowers and pair him up with another stud on the defensive line, along with the aforementioned players, this defense could be scary and the Patriots could make another Super Bowl run.
As far as Brown is concerned, he was a standout player on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL this season and consistently kept Tom Brady’s blind side safe, but unfortunately it seems as though the 6-foot-8-inch beast will likely take his talents elsewhere as many folks seem to believe the Patriots will not have the cap space to bring Brown back, unless they are able to restructure the deals of other players or even cut them from the roster. The loss of Brown would be manageable, as the Patriots’ former first round pick from last season, Isaiah Wynn, will be able to suit up this season and take over that starting role after missing this past season due to an injury suffered in preseason action.
New England still has guard Shaq Mason, center Joe Thuney, guard David Andrews and tackle Marcus Cannon locked up for this year. Patriots’ fans should have high hopes that Wynn can fill the void of Trent Brown. Wynn played along with the Patriots other former first round running back Sony Michel. The two studs played for a Georgia team that just barely fell short of a national championship against Alabama in 2017. Wynn was one of many stars on an offensive line that allowed Sony Michel and Browns’ running back Nick Chubb to cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.
As for the wide receiver position, expect an offseason similar to the one prior to the 2007 season when the Patriots brought in the three headed monster of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. The Patriots will have slot receiver Julian Edelman returning and are hopeful that they can get wide receiver Josh Gordon back on the field. It is also worth noting that it appears the Miami Dolphins are going to move on from wide receiver Danny Amendola, a well–regarded Patriots playoff hero, and a reunion this offseason would not be surprising. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate also seems that he will be walking this offseason. Tate would fit right in with a Patriots offense that thrives with quick slot receivers. As much as all these moves would make sense, Belichick makes all of the Patriots’ roster moves, and all we can do now is wait to see what cards he has up his sleeve.