With a decent number of players hitting free agency in a few weeks, the Patriots are going to have some decisions to make. The team is towards the bottom of the league in cap space, but cuts and restructures will provide them with enough flexibility to make some moves to bolster what is already a championship roster. Here is the likelihood of New England resigning the free agents that they have.
Trey Flowers – This is a no brainer for the team. Flowers has been one of their best defensive players over the past few seasons. He has the talent and the versatility to play multiple positions along the defensive line. He is also a very intelligent player who works well in various schemes. On top of all that, the Patriots are thin along the defensive line, and keeping Flowers will be a priority. New England may have the reputation of not paying players, but Flowers is someone who will likely receive a good offer from the Patriots.
However, the issue will be whether another team overpays for Flowers. The market for defensive ends is relatively thin this offseason. A team with a solid amount of cap space, like the Titans, the Lions, or the Browns, could steal him from New England with a high contract.
Stephen Gostkowski – The Patriots all-time leading scorer is not going anywhere. Gostkowski had another solid campaign in 2018, including a near-perfect playoff run. The Patriots won’t be moving on this year and will keep him via a new contract or the franchise tag.
Ryan Allen – The Patriots punter had his best season since 2015, and will likely stay in New England at a market value price. Punter’s are not an expense teams fret over.
LaAdrian Waddle – After a quiet season as a rotational tackle, Waddle does not have a ton of clout heading into free agency. With the team likely to lose Trent Brown, it would do them well to keep some solid veterans who have experience in their system. He signed a one year deal in New England prior to 2018 and could do the same this year.
Jonathan Jones* – This is a little different because Jones is a restricted free agent. However, the Patriots will almost certainly put an offer sheet in for him, or even work out a long-term deal.
Jason McCourty – The Patriots cornerback had a resurgent season in 2018, grading out as one of the better cornerbacks in the league by Pro Football Focus. He certainly set himself up for a solid contract to finish out his career. The question will be what McCourty wants to do with the rest of his career. He enjoyed his time in New England and getting to play with his brother Devin. At this point, he may be more interested in enjoying his time than hitting a big payday. Or, after winning a title, he may want to take the money and finish out his career.
The Patriots will likely offer him a contract, but it won’t be excessive for a 32-year-old cornerback.
Phillip Dorsett – Dorsett has had a quiet two seasons with New England. He has not lived up to his first-round hype and has had below average production. However, he has made clutch catches for the team and has a good repertoire with Tom Brady. Dorsett may not receive much interest from other teams in the league from his lack of production. This could allow the Patriots to keep him at a low price. With most of their receivers set to hit free agency, New England will likely try to keep at least one of them for familiarity.
Trent Brown – Brown had an impressive first season in New England and very likely made San Fransisco regret trading him. He anchored one of the better offensive lines in the league while picking up a complicated Patriot offense that thrives on hard counts and old school run styles. He also seemed to enjoy his time in New England and has expressed an interest in staying.
However, Brown is set to be one of the best offensive tackles to hit the market when the new league begins. This means that he will be priced out of the Patriots range very quickly. As much as New England would like to keep Brown, they won’t pay the top dollar that Brown will command.
Chris Hogan – The Patriots receiver had a relatively quiet 2018, playing a much smaller role in an offense that took most of the year to find its legs. His targets were absorbed by Josh Gordon, and he never really became a focal point of the Patriots offense.
A solid number two receiver, Hogan will likely see some decent offers from other teams looking for a reliable option. The Patriots will extend Hogan an offer, but not nearly as much as he will get on the open market. After three seasons and two Super Bowl rings, Hogan will cash in and move on.
Cordarrelle Patterson – The Patriots made a solid trade when they got Patterson in the offseason. He was a productive weapon for them, proving himself as a great gadget tool who can run and catch.
Patterson proved to the rest of the NFL that he is more than just a dynamic returner. His time in New England showed other teams that he can provide versatility to an offense. The Patriots will likely make Patterson an offer. However, he was not a dynamic receiving threat like Gordon was, or even as reliable as Hogan. They will not sink a high amount of money into a receiver who can only make 20-30 catches per year. He will make more from another team looking to add an extra piece to their offense.
Danny Shelton – The former first-round pick did not make a major impact in his single season in New England. He spent three games as a healthy scratch and put up the lowest tackle totals of his career. The Patriots will likely move on from Shelton and look to bolster their defensive line elsewhere.
Malcolm Brown – Like Shelton, Brown had arguably the worst year of his four year career in 2018. He recorded his lowest tackle numbers, had only one quarterback hit, and did not manage a single sack or tackle for loss. The Patriots 2015 first-round pick has shown flashes of talent in his time in New England but has been completely unable to play consistently at the level needed.
New England may offer Brown a low-level contract, but it’s more likely that the defensive lineman will be looking to revitalize his career in a new market in 2019.
Eric Rowe – In his three seasons in New England, Rowe has played a grand total of 21 regular season games. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field at all, and the Patriots will be able to find suitable options elsewhere.