The 2018 NFL's free agency period is a only a month away and for the New England Patriots it projects to be a busy one: Multiple starters in all three phases of the game will see their contracts expire soon and are scheduled to hit the open market. Three of the Patriots' 14 overall unrestricted free agents project to draw particular interest from teams around the league – at least when judged by E$PN's list of the top 50 free agents.
The following members of the 2017 Patriots are listed:
11. OT Nate Solder
24. RB Dion Lewis
25. CB Malcolm Butler
As has been the case with Pro Football Focus' list of the top free agents to be, ESPN also included Nate Solder, Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler in its rankings – even though in a slightly different order. The argument behind ranking Solder 11th is that capable left tackles rarely enter free agency and him doing just that adds to his value for both the Patriots and potential suitors.
In the case of Lewis, author Kevin Seifert argues that his versatility is a big part of what makes him an intriguing player on the open market despite teams rarely investing big in running backs. The starting position for Butler is of course a different one: Cornerbacks are always in high demand and while the three-year starter is not among the top players at his position, he should draw plenty of attention.
That the Patriots have three players featured on the list is a reflection of their quality as well as the quality of New England’s entire 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 in the upcoming weeks.