During the NFL season, Monday is typically the day to look back and assess what happened over the course of the weekend. And while the 2018 regular season will not open until early September, there are still opportunities to look back during the offseason – with free agency one of the most prominent such chances. The first week of this year's edition is already in the books; let's quickly recap it.
Free agents re-signed by the Patriots
New England entered the offseason with 14 players headed towards unrestricted free agency. Of those 14, only three have so far been re-signed by the Patriots:
RB Brandon Bolden: Re-signed (1-year, $880k)
RB Rex Burkhead: Re-signed (3-year, $9.75MM)
SS Nate Ebner: Re-signed (2-year, $5MM)
While Burkhead is projected to be a vital member of New England's ground game in 2018, Bolden and Ebner – the latter coming off a season-ending ACL tear – will be core special teamers. Bringing the trio back guarantees stability at their respective positions at a comparatively modest price rate.
Free agents signed by other teams
While New England re-signed three players, five left the team via free agency – and considering their price rates should net the Patriots a healthy number of compensatory draft choices next year (with two currently projected to come in the third round).
WR Danny Amendola: Signed by Dolphins (2-year, $12MM)
CB Johnson Bademosi: Signed by Texans (2-year, $6.25MM)
CB Malcolm Butler: Signed by Titans (5-year, $61MM)
RB Dion Lewis: Signed by Titans (4-year, $23MM)
OT Nate Solder: Signed by Giants (4-year, $62MM)
All five of the players listed above played prominent roles on the team last season. The biggest loss is certainly Nate Solder, who protected Tom Brady's blindside for the majority of the last seven years and has no clear in-house replacement on the Patriots roster, while Danny Amendola is the most surprising (at least when not considering how much he was actually paid by Miami).
Free agents still on the open market
The biggest group among New England's free agency class is the one of still unsigned players. A total of six men have not yet joined a team with all but Ricky Jean Francois – who announced that he would not return earlier during the offseason – candidates to be brought back:
OT Cameron Fleming
LB Marquis Flowers
LB James Harrison
DT Ricky Jean Francois
WR Matthew Slater
OT LaAdrian Waddle
Of the five players remaining as realistic candidates to return to New England, two – Cameron Fleming and Matthew Slater – have garnered outside interest via visits but it looks as if all of them are still very much in play to return.
Outside free agents acquired by the Patriots
While New England started free agency rather slowly (at least from an outside perspective), the team plugged three players off the open market so far:
DE Adrian Clayborn: 2-year, $12MM
RB Jeremy Hill: 1-year, $1.5MM
OT Matt Tobin: details not yet known
While Tobin is in play to step into Nate Solder's shoes at left tackle, both Clayborn and Hill are projected to be a part of a rotation at their respective positions: Clayborn will be a part of the defensive edge rotation alongside Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Derek Rivers; Hill becomes the big-body running back the team lacked in 2017.
Players traded for by the Patriots
The Patriots were active on the trading market over the last week-plus as the team acquired a total of three players – and all three are projected to play big roles for the team next year:
DT Danny Shelton: from Browns
CB Jason McCourty: from Browns
WR Cordarrelle Patterson: from Raiders
Shelton, the 12th overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, will add size to New England's interior defensive line and join Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy as the top defensive tackles on the roster. McCourty, meanwhile, is in play to become the starting boundary cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore. Finally, Patterson is the favorite to take over Dion Lewis' old spot as the Patriots' kickoff returner.
During the free agency frenzy, the Patriots also found the time to extend the contracts of two core members of the team:
SS Brandon King: 2-year, $2.6MM
SS Patrick Chung: 2-year, $11.5MM
Special teams ace King, who was scheduled to enter restricted free agency, will be in the fold for the next two seasons, while Chung's extension runs through 2020.