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Patriots Free Agent Profile: Jonathan Casillas

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Looking at the free agent profile of upcoming Patriots free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the free agent profile of upcoming Patriots free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Name: Jonathan Casillas

Position: Linebacker

Age: 27

Status: Unrestricted free agent

2014 Season: The New England Patriots acquired Casillas in a trade-deadline day deal with the Buccaneers that had the Patriots give up a fifth round pick while acquiring a sixth round selection. The Patriots had a first-hand look at Casillas during joint practices with the Bucs in training camp, and predicted he could play well in a bigger role. They were right. Casillas, as he had in Tampa Bay and New Orleans, became an immediate core special teams player for the Patriots. However, when Dont’a Hightower went down with injury week 14, he stepped into a full-time and played well. In eight total games, Casillas started three times and recorded 32 tackles.

Why the Patriots should sign him: Casillas is still relatively young at age 27, and probably would not require much guaranteed money to sign. He picked up the Patriots’ scheme quickly, and while he should not be relied on as a starter, he’s an athletic sub for multiple positions who is a core special teamer as well. There’s little risk to signing him.

Why the Patriots should let him walk: Casillas is well-respected around the league and could receiver a $1.5-$2 million contract from a 4-3 team who could use an upgrade on special teams. The Patriots may want to go with a younger, less expensive option to fill his role/roster spot.

Prediction: The Patriots probably won’t make Casillas a priority to re-sign, but a reunion seems like a good fit for both signs. He should return on a one or two year deal.