Free agency is upon us and the New England Patriots have a long list of players who could find homes elsewhere in the NFL.
Patriots Beat and featured guest, Kevin Duffy looks at what might happen with some of our favorite Patriots players and what the Patriots will do once the new league year starts.
One of the first big points brought up on this episode was what will happen with backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Throughout the year questions were raised as to what the Patriots will do with him. After an impressive game and a half where Garoppolo showed poise and quick decision making, we all wondered if he would take over the job or be gone in the off season. I, like most people believed in the latter and that Brady would return to his rightful spot as the leader and Garoppolo would be used as trade bait this off season. Well, now we are a month into the off season and nothing has happened yet. Just recently, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that he believes Jimmy G will be in Foxboro next season.
“Adam Schefter is probably right about Jimmy G not being traded” and the “Patriots expected to hold onto Garoppolo” Duffy mentioned.
So it seems like it is becoming more possible that our wishes for Cleveland’s 12th overall pick will not come true, but in the end, this is still speculation and Duffy mentions that there is still “mutual interest” by Cleveland and New England for a possible Garopplo trade.
Another big story is long time Patriots right tackle, Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer came onto the scene in 2009 and had immediate success. He has been the Patriots right tackle ever since, but has experienced a few bumps in the roads with injuries. The past 2 years he has been hit by the injury bug and it might be his time as he is 32.
“His days with the Patriots and NFL are over for Vollmer” Duffy added.
So it does not look optimistic for the bruising German tackle. None the less, Vollmer has made a big impact on the Patriots the past 8 seasons and was an important part to the 2014 Super Bowl team.
Lastly, the other big topics that were discussed were the biggest free agents on the team. Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler (although he is restricted) and Martellus Bennett.
Dont’a Hightower without question is the biggest name of this list. He is an unrestricted free agent and come March 9th, he is allowed to sign wherever he wants. The Patriots can still sign him before then, but it seems unlikely that it will happen.
“I would be surprised if Hightower signs anything before March 9th” Duffy explained.
Not only is he testing the market, but other players are beginning to recruit him. Oakland Raiders Linebacker, Bruce Irvin, tweeted to Hightower saying how he could play with him and Khalil Mack. As a football fan, that seems like quite the site to see, but the Patriots need the big thumper patrolling the middle of their defense. His performance in both Super Bowls should be enough of an argument to explain his performance. Stopping Marshawn Lynch half a yard shy from the goal line in the final minute with his bad shoulder in 2014 and then to force a necessary fumble in this year’s Super Bowl, he has been a beast when it matters the most.
Malcolm Butler is a restricted free agent and the Patriots will most likely place a 1st round tender on him. This means he will get close to 4 million for the year and that if the Patriots do not match an offer from another team, they will get a first round pick in compensation.
“Some incentive for Butler to get a long term contract” Duffy stated.
So for Butler, being a restricted free agent is not ideal as he will spend another year making significantly less money than he deserves and has earned.
Lastly, the fun and loveable tight end, Martellus Bennett seems all, but gone now.
“All the signs point to Martellus Bennett leaving” Duffy said.
Bennett is not a quiet man and is not afraid to state his opinion. On Twitter he has criticized fans who tell him to take a pay cut and immediately after the Super Bowl on TV he mentioned how teams over pay for Super Bowl champions. So Bennett got his ring, he may be looking to cash out before it is all said and done. There have been reports thought that the Patriots are interested in bringing him back for the right price.
Free agency is just around the corner and this team could be fielding many new starters in September. To hear what else Patriots Beat and Kevin Duffy said, check out the Patriots Beat podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and CLNSradio.com.