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Monday, 20 February 2017 14:51

Patriots Top Free Agents

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Read who can go and who can stay amongst the top four Patriots free agents. It is time to park the Duck Boats back in the garage and get ready for the Patriots offseason.

The New England Patriots got their fifth title in historic fashion, but as head coach Bill Belichick noted the Patriots are behind on the offseason schedule. Free agency begins March 9th, and to me the four most notable Patriots free agents are running back LeGarette Blount, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Malcolm Butler, and tight end Martellus Bennett 

Who Can Go:

The two players that may have value on the team, but who is not worth over extending for are Blount and Bennett. Blount lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18, but yet come playoff time the Patriots leaned on the likes of Dion Lewis and James White down the stretch. Much like passing backs in the past such as Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen they had success. Blount is a great back to have at the goal line and someone who can push the pile when the defense is exhausted from chasing around Lewis and White all game. Blount needs time to find the hole get momentum in order to make an impact, unlike Lewis and White who both can catch and also have the ability to cut their way through defenses. 

Next, is Bennett, who was the second Patriots attempt to replace Aaron Hernandez after Scott Chandler did not work out. While this campaign could not have gone any better, Bennett is going to look for big money. As he said "Champions get paid." The Patriots have to look at the tight end position longer term than Bennett. Rob Gronkowski is an animal when healthy, but he never seems to make it through a whole season without having surgery. His time as a top tight end in the NFL may not be long term, and the Patriots should draft and develop another tight end for a cheaper rate than Bennett. The Patriots could give Bennett the franchise tag for one year, but long term it is not the best option.

Who Needs to Stay:

The Patriots do not overcommit at one position, and for that reason that is why Hightower is still here. Belichick knew he could not pay Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, and Hightower to all free agent deals this offseason, so in typical fashion he shipped Jones before the season even began and then surprisingly traded Collins to the Browns right in the middle of a title run. Turns out Hightower was the right choice to stay as he stripped sacked Matt Ryan in Super Bowl to fuel the start of the Patriots miraculous comeback, now it is time to pay him. Ideally, the Patriots agree to a long term deal with Hightower before he hits the market, otherwise the franchise tag is a must if a long term deal can't be reached by March 1st, the day teams have until to place a franchise tag on a player

Malcolm Butler is not as complicated as the other three that have been mentioned, because he is a restricted free agent. The Patriots will have the right to match any deal he is offered on the market. Putting a first-round tender makes sense, in case the Patriots decide not to match an offer from another team. However, getting a first round pick is not the answer. The Patriots struggled to find their franchise corner for years, but they have finally hit a bullseye with Butler. Shame on the Patriots if they decide Butler to not match an offer. Sometimes signing your best player no matter the cost is the way to go, even if it is not usually the Patriot Way.

For more Patriots news an analysis, make sure to check out the Patriots Beat Podcast!

Matt Poirier

Patriots Staff writer who writes about my opinions and breaking news. I graduated from Daniel Webster Collge with a Sport Management degree, I have also worked with ESPNNH Radio and contribute to the very popular blog Celtics Direct on Twitter. The avatar is my cat Toby, the brains behind the operation.

Follow me on Twitter @BSTRONG415

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