As we head into March, and as the shine of the Super Bowl victory begins to slowly fade away, it’s time to look ahead to next season, as the Patriots begin their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Certainly, Bill Belichick and his staff have already begun preparing for the 2019-2020 season, but let’s take a look at who is coming back, who may be leaving, and what else is happening with the Patriots roster as New England looks to reload.
Tom Brady, 42, $14M
This offseason looks to be far less turbulent than last year’s. A Super Bowl victory tends to do that. The only thing to monitor here will be contract extension talks. How long does Brady get extended? Does he get a significant pay raise? It will be very interesting to see the terms whenever it happens.
Brian Hoyer, 33, $2.8M
Hoyer will likely return as Brady’s backup next season, barring a high draft pick at the position or another veteran being brought in to compete.
Danny Etling, 25, $495K
The Patriots appear to be high on last year’s seventh round draft pick. He traveled with the team all year, and has drawn praise from Patriots’ coaches. Maybe he gives Hoyer a run for his money in training camp.
Sony Michel, 24, $918K
Tony Massarotti’s favorite running back will be back next year and will look to build on an impressive rookie year, capped off by a postseason that saw him score six rushing touchdowns, the most by a rookie running back in NFL history. Michel’s goal this offseason should be to work on his pass-catching ability. That is his most glaring weakness currently. If he can become more versatile, the Pats’ offense will benefit greatly.
James White, 27, $2.5M
While James White took somewhat of a backseat to Michel and Burkhead in the postseason, he is still New England’s best receiving option out of the backfield. At $2.5 million next season, White will be back and will be just as important to this team.
Rex Burkhead, 29, $1.75M
Burkhead’s time as a Patriot has been marred by injuries so far, but he rewarded the team’s faith in him in the postseason, finally showing the playmaking ability that brought him here in the first place. If Burkhead can stay healthy next season, which is still questionable at best, he and Michel will be a lethal 1-2 punch in the backfield.
Jeremy Hill, 25, UFA
Hill continues to rehab from the torn ACL he suffered in the preseason. The Patriots may be able to bring him back on the cheap, or else they will likely look elsewhere, with three capable options in the backfield already.
Julian Edelman, 33, $2M
The cupboard is quite bare at the receiver position for New England, and Edelman is the only dependable option that this team is currently slated to have next year. Edelman was excellent this season, especially in the postseason, but it’s logical to expect a decline to start soon. New England must start looking to the draft to infuse this position with some new young talent.
Chris Hogan, 30, UFA
Hogan struggled all season to get on the same page as Brady, a surprising departure from the previous two years, that saw Hogan emerge as a preferred target of TB12’s. Coupled with his inability to separate against man coverage, and it doesn’t appear that New England will make much of an effort to retain Hogan.
Phillip Dorsett, 26, UFA
Dorsett was solid when his number was called this season. Who can forget that touchdown catch in the AFC Championship Game against Kansas City? Dorsett is a candidate to be re-signed, at an affordable price. Still just 26, Dorsett showed this season that he has the tools to keep building into a capable receiver. With New England lacking options at the position, Dorsett could come back.
Josh Gordon, 28, SSPD
Reports have indicated that Gordon could potentially be reinstated by the time training camp starts. Gordon played well for New England, but the offense did just fine after his suspension. He did seem to fit in well with the team though, and clearly still has support from key players on the team, such as Brady and Edelman. Even if he does come back to the Patriots, the team cannot assume that he will last a full season, and should build the receiver position with that assumption in mind. Gordon was slated to be a restricted free agent after this season.
Cordarrelle Patterson, 28, UFA
Patterson did well in his role as a gadget-play receiver for the Pats. He may be looking for a bigger role and/or money on the open market, so his time on the team may be coming to an end.
Matthew Slater, 33, $1.6M
Slater will be back next year and will still keep dominating on special teams.
Braxton Berrios, 23, $495K
Berrios was placed on Injured Reserve in training camp, but will have an opportunity this offseason to make a mark and earn a role on this team moving forward. Potential Edelman insurance for the future.
Damoun Patterson, 24, $495K
Darren Andrews, 27, $495K
Riley McCarron, 26, UFA
Cody Hollister, 25, ERFA
Rob Gronkowski, 30, $9M
Gronk has to decide first whether he will retire or not. If he retires, New England will have a glaring need at this position. Even if he stays, the Patriots should look for his replacement in this year’s draft.
Dwayne Allen, 29, $6.9M
Allen will only be back at a reduced price. Allen has not shown the consistent pass-catching ability that he did in Indianapolis, but the team clearly likes his blocking enough. But not enough to warrant that $6.9 million price tag.
Jacob Hollister, 25, $645K
Hollister received a lot of training camp hype in training camp, but injuries wrecked what appeared to be a potential breakout season for the athletic tight end. With depth at the tight end position lacking, Hollister will have the same opportunity this year. The Patriots could certainly use another pass-catching tight end to take more load off Gronk, if he returns.
Stephen Anderson, 26, $645K
Ryan Izzo, 23, $495K
Izzo turned some heads in the preseason, but was placed on Injured Reserve. Known mostly for his blocking ability, Izzo gives New England insurance if Dwayne Allen doesn’t agree to a paycut and they are forced to cut him.
James Develin, 31, $1M
Develin, one of the best — if not the best— fullbacks in the league, will be back next year.
Interior Offensive Line
David Andrews, 27, $2M
New England did well to sign him to an early extension. Andrews anchors what has quickly become one of the best interior offensive lines in the NFL.
Shaq Mason, 26, $4M
Mason entrenched himself firmly as one of the best right guards in the NFL this season.
Joe Thuney, 26, $2.015M
Thuney is a possible contract extension candidate this offseason. He is consistent and dependable and will hopefully be a Patriot for a long time.
Ted Karras, 26, $720K
Karras is solid depth and is well-liked in the locker room.
James Ferentz, 30, $720K
Tony Adams, 24, $495K
Trent Brown, 26, UFA
Brown was one of the best left tackles in the league this season. In classic Bill Belichick fashion, despite the criticism he received for not re-signing Nate Solder last offseason, he went out and traded for a much cheaper option who wound up being better than Solder was as a Patriot. Brown will be looking to cash in on his season though, and with last year’s top draft pick, Isaiah Wynn, back next season, coming off a torn Achilles, the Patriots may not be willing to pay top dollar to bring Brown back.
Marcus Cannon, 31, $5.5M
Cannon was mostly solid this season, but he will be 31 next year and has a history of being injury-prone. New England should start looking for his replacement soon.
LaAdrian Waddle, 28, UFA
With Waddle being a free agent, New England will need to find a solid swing tackle if they do not bring him back, with Cannon being an injury risk, and the Pats’ left tackle situation uncertain currently.
Isaiah Wynn, 22, $1M
If Brown isn’t back next season, that will be a significant vote of confidence in Wynn. Torn Achilles are no jokes. Hopefully it is not a long-term setback for the talented tackle from Georgia.
Brian Schwenke, 28, $805K
Cole Croston, 25, $645K
Ulrick John, 27, UFA
Dan Skipper, 24, $495K
Malcom Brown, 26, UFA
When Brown was drafted out of the University of Texas, he was expected to become the heir apparent to Vince Wilfork. However, his time in New England has been up and down, and it is uncertain how hard the Patriots will try to bring him back. With the options behind Brown lacking, they may have no choice, unless they look to the draft for reinforcements.
Lawrence Guy, 29, $2.4M
Lawrence Guy was the best defensive tackle this past year for the Patriots and is one of the most shrewd and effective recent free agent signings by Belichick.
Danny Shelton, 27, UFA
Shelton, similar to Brown, had a rocky season. He bounced back in the postseason to help the Patriots defense shut down the top two offenses in NFL, but his time in New England may be coming to a close.
Adam Butler, 25, $645K
Butler had a good season, building on a nice rookie year, and will be back next year in the same role he played this year, as a pass-rushing, penetrating defensive tackle.
Ufomba Kamalu, 26, $645K
Trent Harris, 23, $495K
Frank Herron, 24, $495K
David Parry , 27, $720K
Trey Flowers, 26, UFA
The Patriots’ #1 priority this offseason is to bring back Flowers by whatever means necessary. His market figures to be robust, as the top defensive end on the market, but he doesn’t have the gaudy numbers that most elite defensive ends do. Will that impact his market? Pats fans better hope it does, or he may be priced out of New England’s range.
Deatrich Wise Jr, 25, $645K
Wise had a good season and is a capable player both in the running and passing game. There will be a lot of pressure on him to produce if Flowers leaves in free agency.
Adrian Clayborn, 31, $3.5M
At $3.5 million, Clayborn may be asked to take a pay cut if he wants to stay in New England.
Derek Rivers, 24, $645K
Rivers has yet to make an impact in a Patriots uniform. With a full offseason to prepare for next season, hopefully Rivers can get back to being the player he was out of Youngstown State. He hasn’t earned the full trust of the Patriots coaching staff yet.
Keionta Davis, 25, $570K
Davis and Rivers flip-flopped for most of the season in terms of who dressed and who was inactive. The coaching staff kept on giving him chances and clearly sees something in him. He will get another chance to prove that in training camp.
John Simon, 28, UFA
Simon was this year’s street free agent that was signed mid-season and came on strong to close out the year. Simon helped the New England pass rush and seemed to quickly earn the trust of the coaching staff. He may be brought back at a low price next season depending on what other moves the Patriots make to bolster the defensive line.
Dont’a Hightower, 29, $7M
Hightower started off this season slow out of the gate, but by the end of the season was back to being the force in the middle that Patriots fans have come to know and love. And he stayed healthy this season! With Brian Flores gone, the Patriots will need as much veteran leadership as they can to help smooth that transition with Greg Schiano taking over as defensive coordinator, and Hightower will be a major part of that effort.
Kyle Van Noy, 28, $4.25M
Van Noy was the best Patriots linebacker from start to finish this season, and was particularly impressive in the postseason.
Ja’Whaun Bentley, 23, $495K
Bentley suffered a torn biceps in Week 3, but before that, turned heads with his early play in the preseason and first two weeks of the regular season. Belichick seems to have uncovered a potential diamond in the rough here, and Bentley will add more depth to the linebacking corps next season.
Elandon Roberts, 25, $2.045M
Roberts has drawn criticism from many for his undisciplined play at times, but really cracked down on those mistakes this season. He’s a force in the run game, but could still use work playing in space.
Ramon Humber, 32, UFA
Albert McClellan, 33, UFA
Brandon King, 27, UFA
Christian Sam, 23, $495K
Calvin Munson, 24, $470K
Stephon Gilmore, 28, $9.5M
Gilmore solidified his spot at or near the top of the list of best cornerbacks in the NFL this season.
Jason McCourty, 32, UFA
McCourty played well in his first year as a Patriot. New England won’t break the bank for a 32-year-old free agent cornerback, so hopefully Jason will take a little bit of a discount to continue playing with his twin brother, Devin.
J.C. Jackson, 23, $570K
J.C. Jackson gives the Patriots insurance if Jason McCourty leaves in free agency. Jackson impressed this season as an undrafted rookie free agent, and had a better season than Malcolm Butler did as a rookie.
Jonathan Jones, 25, RFA
After coming back from a torn Achilles, Jonathan Jones was New England’s top option at the slot corner position all season long, and played really well. It’s plausible that New England could place a high-round tender on the restricted free agent. Possibly a second-round tender, which would cost just over $3 million next season.
Keion Crossen, 23, $570K
Crossen’s contributions came mostly on special teams this season, but he was part of the effort to limit Tyreek Hill in the AFC Championship Game. If he can build on that performance, and improve his pass coverage, he could fit into the team’s long-term plans.
Duke Dawson, 23, $696K
The second round draft pick did not dress after coming off of Injured Reserve during the season. He will have plenty to prove in training camp this summer.
Eric Rowe, 26, UFA
Rowe will likely be looking for a fresh start after two injury-plagued seasons with the Patriots.
A.J. Howard, 23, $495K
Devin McCourty, 32, $9M
After causing a stir with his Super Bowl comments that hinted at a possible retirement, McCourty has since said he is coming back next season, and the team will need him with Flores going to Miami to be their new head coach. His leadership and communication skills will be imperative.
Patrick Chung, 32, $1.9M
Suffering a broken arm in the Super Bowl that required surgery, Chung will be back next season, but at 32, and with his injury history, New England should consider looking for his replacement sooner rather than later.
Duron Harmon, 28, $2.5M
Harmon will be back next year and should continue to be the mostly dependable presence he has been thus far as a Patriot.
Obi Melifonwu, 25, $645K
Nate Ebner, 29, $2M
Stephen Gostkowski, 35, UFA
Gostkowski is a potential franchise tag candidate if the two sides cannot come to an agreement. Either way, he will likely be back as a Patriot next season.
Ryan Allen, 29, UFA
Allen had one of his best performances as a Patriot in the Super Bowl, and you know Belichick loves his punters, so expect Allen to be re-signed.
Joe Cardona, 27, $805K
Will be around for a long time to come.