With yet another season gone by, and another Superbowl won, comes the devastating part of the offseason: releasing players and failing to extend other players’ contracts allowing them to become a free agent. But what is a free agent? A free agent is a sports player who is not bound to any contract, therefore allowing them to play for any team. After a Superbowl victory, it is common for veteran players to retire, and for younger players, who feel like they didn’t contribute to the victory, to move on to another team. The New England Patriots face a huge decision on whether or not to resign some of the best players in the league at their position.
The Patriots staff will be busy this offseason with 16 unrestricted free agents, including six 2016 starters, deciding whether they should go or whether they should stay. Arguably, the most valuable player on the list is Cornerback Malcolm Butler. Although Butler went undrafted in the 2014 draft, he made the most memorable SUper Bowl interception to seal the game. Furthermore, after that play, he stepped up and became the Patriots #1cover corner. Thankfully, he most likely will be staying in New England because he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Patriots control his rights.
Another very important person on the list is Inside Linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He has been very productive for the patriots, despite an array of injuries and made a strip sack that changed the momentum of the game for the Patriots in Super Bowl 51. The rumor is that the Patriots may end up putting the franchise tag on him, giving both sides an opportunity to make a long term deal.
On the other side of the ball, Tight End Martellus Bennett is hoping to test Free Agency. Following Gronkowski’s tragic season-ending injury, Bennett filled the vacancy quite nicely. However, after the Superbowl, Bennett stated that they “overpay Super Bowl champions”, but with Gronk already making 9 million dollars, it is unlikely that the Patriots will try to “break the bank” on Martellus Bennett.
Unfortunately, there are many more players that are on the Free Agency market that will unlikely be resigned by the Patriots. Many of these players have spent a lot of time in New England and may have their days numbered. Te other free agents include: Cornerback Logan Ryan, who regressed a step back since 2015, Running Back Legarrette Blount, who will only end up back in New England with a small contract, Defensive End Jabaal Sheard, Right Tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who may retire, Defensive Tackle Alan Branch, Fullback James Develin, Defensive End Chris Long, OLB Barkevious Mingo, Wide Receiver Michael Floyd, Running Back Brandon Bolden, Strong Safety Duron Harmon, and Tight End Greg Scruggs.
Despite all these potential cuts to the New England team, Bill Belichick is bound to have some trick up his sleeve, and make the greatest comeback in NFL history.