Pro Football Focus released their 2018 Free Agency Guide, free agent tracker, and made recommendations for where each free agent should sign that would maximize their skill set, while also taking salary cap into account.
“This does not necessarily mean that each of those teams should be pursuing every one of those free agents,” PFF said about their team recommendations, “but rather that each of those players matches what those teams do from a schematic or stylistic point of view. Salary cap space and roster construction has also been factored in when looking at those ideal team fits, and they reflect the most sensible landing spot for each player in isolation, not as a complete team shopping list for the free agency period as a whole.”
The New England Patriots don’t have a ton of notable free agents, other than CB Malcolm Butler, LT Nate Solder, and RB Dion Lewis.
PFF says that Butler would be a great fit with the San Francisco 49ers (as would linebacker Marquis Flowers) and that Lewis would be a strong addition for the New York Giants (possibly to replace Shane Vereen?).
There’s a lot of information that you can find here, but here are the players that PFF thinks should be on the Patriots radar for 2018 free agency.
WR Danny Amendola
LT Nate Solder
DL Ricky Jean-Francois
CB Johnson Bademosi
These four players should stay with the Patriots and it makes sense. Amendola is as clutch as it gets for New England (although I think a union with Josh McDaniels and the Indianapolis Colts could make sense), while Solder is an obvious starter.
Francois could replace Alan Branch on the depth chart, while Bademosi has plenty of value as a special teamer with defensive upside.
Aging veteran on last legs
TE Anthony Fasano
DL Lamarr Houston
LB Koa Misi
LB Karlos Dansby
CB Tramon Williams
S Nate Allen
All of these players are over the age of 30 and have either suffered serious injuries or are just trying to chase a ring. Tramon Williams is actually an intriguing name if the Patriots are looking for a veteran to add to the roster in case Malcolm Butler leaves in free agency and Lamarr Houston is a great fit for the Patriots in the same mold as Adam Butler.
Underutilized or special teamers with upside
RB Branden Oliver
WR Taylor Gabriel
WR Brice Butler
DL Cedric Thornton
LB Josh Bynes
All of these players are relatively young and looking for a team that could give them a larger opportunity. Most are stuck behind an entrenched starter on the depth chart or there’s been a coaching change that either has or will further reduce their value.
Gabriel could be an interesting option if Danny Amendola joins McDaniels with the Colts, while Oliver could be a solid replacement if Rex Burkhead signs somewhere else.
Bynes is a special teams linebacker and you know that is what gets Bill Belichick’s attention in free agency.
I think the Patriots should really try to retain their own free agents, beyond just the top tier names of Solder, Butler, and Lewis. I think Marquis Flowers could take a jump with a full offseason in New England, similar to how Kyle Van Noy grew his role this past year, and either one of Cameron Fleming or LaAdrian Waddle should be retained due to the importance of the third tackle role.
Special teamers make up the bulk of the Patriots potential free agents- Matthew Slater, Johnson Bademosi, Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden, Geneo Grissom- and there’s always a place for them on the New England roster.
What do you think?