Prior to the start of this year’s free agency period, the New England Patriots placed tenders on two of their restricted free agents while re-signing a third, tight end Michael Williams, to a one-year contract. One of the players tendered, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, signed his offer sheet yesterday.
Since getting drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, the Stanford product developed into the Patriots’ number three offensive tackle behind starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. Serving as a swing tackle and occasional blocking tight end, Fleming appeared in all 19 of New England’s 2016 games.
After the season, he was assigned the original round restricted free agency tender. Now that the 24-year old has signed it, he will earn a non-guaranteed salary of $1.797 million this season. Fleming signing his tender sheet also means that cornerback Malcolm Butler is now the Patriots’ lone restricted free agent not officially under contract for the upcoming season.
According to the transaction wire, the Patriots have also retained exclusive rights free agent safety Brandon King. The 23-year old has been a pure special teams ace for New England over the past two seasons and finished his 2016 campaign with 10 kicking game tackles – the third-highest number on the team.
Just like they did with Fleming, the Patriots tendered King prior to the start of free agency. Now that he has signed the offer sheet, the exclusive rights free agent will return to the team on a non-guaranteed one-year contract worth $615,000.
The Patriots also made another move yesterday as the team announced re-signing Alan Branch to a two-year contract. New England re-signing the defensive tackle was originally reported on March 9, the first day of free agency. However, until yesterday, the transaction has not been made official.
Like Fleming and King, Branch appeared in all 19 of the Patriots’ 2016 games. Not only has the 32-year old been the most prominently featured defensive tackle on the team’s roster, he also has been the best – and he will continue to anchor New England’s defensive line for the foreseeable future.