Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Patriots Free Agents - Updated Facts And Rumors

An up-to-date listing of the Patriots' impending free agent movement and rumors, as of 3/8/17:

Martellus Bennett:  Linked to Giants, Jaguars and Bills according to Jason La Canforna, possibly Detroit and Miami as well.

Dont'a Hightower:  The Patriots have had what Hightower calls "Positive talks" in retaining the Pro Bowl linebacker, but interest is rumored to be high among the Lions, Dolphins and Browns.  A wildcard in the Hightower sweepstakes could be Oakland.
Both Hightower (54) and Sheard (93) are unrestricted free agents

Malcolm Butler:  The team tagged the restricted free agent with a first-round tender worth nearly four million dollars.  If any team puts in a bid on the Pro Bowl corner without the Patriots matching, that team will owe New England a first-round draft pick.  That scenario seems unlikely.

James Develin:  Patriots signed the fullback to a two-year $2.85 million contract with a $300,000 signing bonus.

LeGarrette Blount:  His annual foray into free agency will probably not garner him much more than what he made last season, so there is a chance he could return to New England on a similar deal.

Brandon Bolden:  No news out of Foxborough on the special teams core player.

Michael Floyd: Currently serving a 120-day jail sentence, there is little talk about Floyd.  He became sort of a cult hero in his limited body of work with New England last season, but was left off the active roster after a terrible divisional round performance where he appeared to run improper routes. He could be back at the right price, but no one but Bill Belichick knows what that is.

Sebatstian Vollmer: As expected, his days in New England are officially over after being cut early this week.

Cameron Fleming:  Huge "sixth lineman" and restricted free agent was tendered at his original fourth round level, which is worth nearly $2 million in 2017 if not signed by another team.  If he is, the Patriots will receive that team's fourth round selection.

Jaball Sheard: No news on the defensive end.  He could be considered damaged goods by being internally suspended by Belichick in mid-season, driving his market price down.

Chris Long:  Announced via Twitter that he would not be re-signing with New England because he wants a bigger role than Belichick can promise.  That announcement, along with the uncertainty over Sheard and the aging of stalwart Rob Ninkovich could potentially leave the Patriots in desperation along the edges.  Look for the team to pursue a free agent or go high in the draft for an edge player.

Alan Branch:  No news yet on Branch, but it sounds as if he's open to returning to New England and probably wouldn't break the bank.  A must-sign under the circumstances.

Barkeveous Mingo:  Rumors all over the place about Mingo, who played just 54 snaps for New England last season. Perhaps some team has visions of him being the explosive pass rusher he was in college, something that he showed in the preseason with the Patriots, but never materialized in the regular season as he was relegated to primarily special teams.

Logan Ryan:  The Bengals are prepared to break the bank to sign Ryan.  That said, they annually overpay for players in the secondary with little return for their investment, and have offered big money to incumbent corner Dre Kirkpatrick.  Ryan's tenure is up in the air, particularly since the Patriots just extended Justin Coleman, but just like all of Belichick's free agents, the market will dictate his value.

Duron Harmon: He has more upside and value with the Patriots than just about any other team, and shouldn't command a lot on the open market.  The one thing that could be enticing to him is if a team offers him a chance to get starter's snaps, but he gets plenty in Foxborough to begin with.  The market will dictate his price.

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