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Report: Donald Thomas "Fully Expected" to Test Free Agency

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One Patriot free agent who has flown under the radar is reportedly expected to hit the open market next week when unrestricted free agency begins.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots lineman Donald Thomas was a versatile and underrated component on the Patriots offensive line in 2012. This offseason, he's scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. And while the Patriots would like to re-sign him, it appears that he will gauge his value on the open market. Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe reports:

One Patriot who has flown under the radar with NFL free agency set to begin on Tuesday is offensive lineman Donald Thomas.

A league source said on Wednesday that the Patriots have shown interest in re-signing Thomas, but it is “fully expected” that he will test the market.

Thomas, 27, played in all 16 games for the Patriots in 2012, starting seven. He excelled at both the left guard and right guard positions in spot duty. He has even occassionally lined up at fullback in short yardage situations.

He's a versatile piece who could be more important than one initially might think. If the team considers him a more valuable piece than Ryan Wendell for example, they could move Dan Connolly back to center and place Thomas at right guard. Left guard Logan Mankins also has some alarmingly large cap hits coming up, which could be maginified further if he continues to have trouble staying healthy.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Patriots will break the bank to bring Thomas back. And I think there are teams out there that will see him, and be willing to pay him like a starter.