The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.
If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next few weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll continue the series with defensive tackle Malcom Brown.
#90 DT Malcom Brown
2019 opening day age: 25
2018 playing time: 18 games (15 regular season + 3 playoffs); 41.3% defensive snaps, 11.0% special teams snaps
2018 statistics: 43 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 quarterback hit, 3 quarterback pressures
2018 cap number: $2.42 million
Coming off an up-and-down 2017 season, the Patriots decided not to pick up Malcom Brown’s fifth-year contract option — turning 2018 into the final year of his rookie deal. But despite him headed towards unrestricted free agency, the former 32nd overall draft pick failed to show that 2017 was but a fluke: while he continued to be used as a rather one-dimensional run defender, Brown still had issues with consistency at times.
That being said, he did end his season and possibly career with the Patriots on a high note. Brown was solid all through the playoffs as his ability to hold his own against double teams proved to be a key reason for New England’s defensive success versus the run over its final three games of the year. The 25-year old was at his best in the Super Bowl when he played 20 of 65 snaps as the number three option at the position.
Why should he be re-signed? Despite his issues, Brown has been a valuable player along the Patriots’ defensive line in 2018 and is an experienced option in a group that might also lose Danny Shelton in free agency. While he is still young and other teams might believe in his upside and growth prospects, the Texas product will likely not command top dollar and might be retained on a comparatively modest contract.
Why should he be let go? Brown has been solid but uninspiring in 2018 as the team appeared to be more comfortable with Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler as the core of its defensive tackle position. In turn, the Patriots might want to upgrade what he brought to the table either by signing a cheaper option in free agency to play around one third of snaps, or by investing a draft pick in what projects to be a deep defensive tackle class.
Projection: Brown leaves the Patriots and signs a contract worth around $4.5 to $5.5 million per year elsewhere. New England, meanwhile, will bring in a veteran on a more cost-effective deal and also draft a defensive tackle.