The New England Patriots will have decisions to make this offseason, as they have a number of high-paid veteran players becoming free agents like Dont’a Hightower and Trent Brown, J.C. Jackson — who’s expecting a large payday, and aging veterans like Brandon Bolden and Nick Folk who may not even return to the game.
New England likely isn’t going to make a free agency splash as they did the previous offseason, where they spent a guaranteed total of $163 million, but they have some decisions to make. Here’s an examination of every player who could hit the open market this offseason.
Here are the 21 New England Patriots Players who could hit the open market this offseason:
$11.5M AAV (average annual value) on previous deal — Devin McCourty (UFA): McCourty, an aging 34-year-old safety, doesn’t have the pep in the step the Pro Bowler once had. It will likely depend on how much money McCourty is looking for on whether or not New England decides to bring him back. It’s no question that the 11-year team captain is one of the most respected members of the Patriots.
$9.5M AAV on previous deal — Trent Brown (UFA): Brown dealt with some injuries last season but was a sturdy tackle for New England. The 6-foot-8 lineman has fit perfectly with the Patriots since being brought back, and he’ll continue to fit well on New England’s line.
However, money might be an issue. Brown might be wanting a payday and that will likely pose an issue for the Patriots — who don’t have much cap space. Brown might be able to find a better cash opportunity elsewhere, thus posing a serious question on his future with the Patriots.
$8.9M AAV on previous deal — Dont’a Hightower (UFA): Hightower, 31, another Patriot whose return will likely be heavily dependent on what the player asks for. The aging linebacker has had a history of injuries — likely bringing down the value of his deal.
New England might rather choose youth over experience, as they might let Hightower walk and give Ja’Whuan Bentley a bigger role.
$3.4M AAV on previous deal — J.C. Jackson (UFA): Jackson should expect nothing less than a payday after his play over the past two seasons, being a crucial part of the Patriots’ defense. That would be unless the Patriots are able to franchise tag him, and from there the two sides can negotiate a long-term extension. The cornerback picked off 18 passes over the past two years and became the CB1 after the regression and dealing of Stephon Gilmore.
$3M AAV on previous deal — Ted Karras (UFA): Karras served as a utility backup offensive lineman, playing both center and guard before having his role upgraded mid-season to a regular starter. Karras openly stated that he’d “love to come back.”
$2.6M AAV on previous deal — Matthew Slater (UFA): Like McCourty, Slater has been an 11-year captain of the team and is a well respected veteran. The 36-year-old special teamer will always have a spot on Bill Belichick’s team, the matter is whether he wants to continue playing or not. He’ll likely be willing to re-sign with a cheap deal.
$2.45M AAV on previous deal — James White (UFA): White had his 2021 cut short due to a season-ending hip injury, but the running back is only 29 years old and still has plenty of football in him if he can stay healthy. The decision might come down to Brandon Bolden or White, as they both serve similar roles on New England — re-signing both is a very big possibility too.
$1.85M AAV on previous deal — Brandon Bolden (UFA): Bolden had a strong 2021 after the injury of White, and as mentioned above it could possibly come down to one or the other. However, Bolden does have a special teams ability compared to White, who doesn’t — although Bolden is 32, where White is only 29. Bolden did hint at a potential departure in an Instagram post though.
$1.75M AAV on previous deal — Brandon King (UFA): This one is a complete question mark. King, although listed as a linebacker plays mainly special teams as he saw 70% of special team snaps. It’ll be interesting if Belichick decides to bring him back.
$1.5M AAV on previous deal — Nick Folk (UFA): It would be rather shocking if New England decided to not bring back the 37-year-old kicker in Folk. After missing three kicks in one game against five years ago and being cut by the Buccaneers, Folk has reshaped his career and has become extremely consistent. He did not miss one kick inside 50 yards since Week 1.
$1.1M AAV on previous deal — Carl Davis (UFA): Davis was a healthy scratch by the end of the season, not suiting up for the playoff affair vs. the Bills. It doesn’t seem like either side is really interested in the other as it seems certain both sides will be moving on.
$1.1M AAV on previous deal — Jamie Collins (UFA): Collins was key down the stretch for New England and provided a veteran presence, but with the linebacker core aging it’s likely that the Patriots will try and get younger at linebacker rather than keep a 32-year-old.
$1.1M AAV on previuos deal — Brian Hoyer (UFA): This one has several deal-breaker factors in it, as it depends largely on if the 36-year-old has an interest in continuing to play and or how the team views Jarrett Stidham.
$1M AAV on previous deal — Harvey Langi (UFA): Langi ended up on injured reserve midseason and when he was healthy he never was activated. A pretty clear indication that New England has no interest in the linebacker.
$850K AAV on previous deal — Troy Fumagalli (UFA): There’s little to no point in bringing back Fumagalli, as the tight end is behind Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene on the depth chart, two tight ends who combined for a total of 12 snaps during the season.
$850K AAV on previous deal — Jakob Johnson (RFA): It’s almost certain the German fullback will be back, as the restricted free agent’s ground game was rather impressive, and also had a solid blocking game.
$700K AAV on previous deal — Terez Hall (ERFA): Hall is what’s lsited as an exclusive rights free agent, meaning New England could tender him at league minimum and he’s forced to sign. Hall was placed on the PUP list in the summer and was never removed, making him a total question mark.
$600K AAV on previous deal — Gunner Olszewski (RFA): Olszewski has made strides since his rookie year in 2019 but failed to reach the next step in 2021, and was disappointing to some. However, Olszewski will most definitely return in 2022.
$600K AAV on previous deal — Jakobi Meyers (RFA): Meyers, who went undrafted in 2019 but was signed by the Patriots, has continued to improve year by year. He’s said openly that he wants to return, and he’ll certainly be back in 2022.
$300K AAV on previous deal — Alex Redmond (SFA): Redmond didn’t play a single snap this year with New England, and he’s a street free agent — meaning he can go anywhere he pleases. It’s practically guaranteed Redmond will walk.