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 linebacker and core special teamer Ramon Humber.
#50 Ramon Humber
2019 opening day age: 32
2018 playing time: 9 games (6 regular season + 3 postseason); 0.4% defensive snaps, 66.8% special teams snaps
2018 regular season statistics: 1 blocked punt recovery
2018 postseason statistics: 3 special teams tackles
2018 cap number: $259,412
Ramon Humber’s 2018 season started with the Buffalo Bills. Nine games into his third season with the club, however, it opted to release the veteran special teamer and part time linebacker. It did not take long for him to find a new home, though, as the Patriots picked Humber up just four days after he hit the market — the second time New England signed the former undrafted rookie to a free agency contract, after first brining him on board in March 2016.
His second stint with the Patriots was a more successful one than his first one, which ended with his release not even six months after he initially came to New England: Humber appeared in a combined nine games for the club and helped turn its special teams fortunes around after the coverage units were inconsistent to open the season. The 31-year old was at his best in the playoffs and finished the tournament tied for the team-lead with three tackles in the kicking game.
Why should he be re-signed? With the Patriots having limited financial resources available this free agency, re-signing a player like Humber would be a solid move. He will likely not command a big price tag due to his role and age, after all, but would still add quality depth on special teams. Furthermore, keeping Humber around would guarantee some form of continuity in the kick coverage units in case fellow special teams ace Albert McClellan leaves via free agency.
Why should he be let go? The Patriots will receive a youth infusion this offseason: not only do they own 12 draft picks at the moment, they also get the bulk of their 2018 rookie class back from injured reserve. Seeing New England decide to go with its younger options instead of Humber — a special teamer with limited actual value on defense — would therefore not be too big of a surprise.
Projection: New England lets Humber test the open market and in case he remains unsigned for an extended period of time, may bring him back on a one-year deal. Don’t expect him to be part of the 2019 Patriots, though, as the club could opt to replace his contributions with a younger option like 2018 rookie Christian Sam.