With only one game left in the 2017 NFL season, Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, analytics website Pro Football Focus is slowly starting to shift its very own focus to the future. One part of it is the upcoming free agency period which will start in six weeks. As part of the previewing process, PFF recently published its 2018 NFL Free Agency Guide.
On over 340 pages, the extensive guide portraits dozens of free agents, their 2017 performance based on PFF's grading system as well as projections. It also includes a list of the top 50 unrestriced free agents – a list that includes three Patriots players in the top 25:
6. CB Malcolm Butler
13. OT Nate Solder
21. RB Dion Lewis
Malcolm Butler, Nate Solder and Dion Lewis will all be in high demand in case they hit the open market in March: While Butler's play has been uneven this season, he is still among the NFL's better perimeter cornerbacks. Solder, on the other hand, bounced back from a rocky start to the season to play some of the best football of his career as of late. And Lewis has established himself as one of the league's most dangerous offensive players.
All three players are the top-ranked at their respective positions, which is not only a reflection of their quality but also of the quality of New England's upcoming free agency class. The trio will be joined on the open market by other core members of the team like wide receiver Danny Amendola, running back Rex Burkhead and special teamers Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner and Brandon Bolden.
A look at New England's upcoming free agents shows one thing: The Patriots front office around Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio will have its hands full after the Super Bowl to try to keep a potential championship roster intact as well as possible.