The New England Patriots enter the 2018 offseason with around $13.3 million in salary cap space. While the number is not bad, the team will need to increase it in order to be able to re-sign the majority of this year's free agency class, headed by offensive tackle Nate Solder. In order to do that, the Patriots will likely let go some of their high-priced veteran players – and defensive tackle Alan Branch could be among them.
After entering the year as one of the top rotational options along the Patriots' interior defensive line, Branch struggled with injuries and as a result slid down the depth chart until he was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl. Considering that New England would save $3.55 million in cap space when letting the veteran go, it would not be a surprise to see this move happen in the coming weeks.
No matter if he is ultimately being let go or not, the 33-year old does not plan to hang up the cleats according to a recent radio interview with WEEI's Dale & Holley with Keefe: “I’m trying to milk it as much as I can. I'm trying to play some ball,” Branch said despite his future – particularly with the Patriots – in doubt. “I love playing football, and as long as they keep paying me money, I’m going to try to do it.”
The defensive lineman also talked about another topic, one that is arguably the most discussed around the Patriots these days: Malcolm Butler and his virtual inactivity during New England's Super Bowl 52 loss. While safety Devin McCourty recently said in an interview that the Patriots players “all knew” that the starting cornerback would not be with the first-team in the game, Branch said that he did not know of Butler's benching.
“I didn’t know anything, honestly,” Branch noted when asked about the topic. “On our team, gossip doesn’t travel, let’s just say that.” The veteran defender added that he noticed that Butler was not in the game. “But then again, you never know the reason for what’s going on at a certain time — in that organization, especially. It’s neither here nor there.”