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 two weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next days, 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 Albert McClellan.
#59 Albert McClellan
2019 opening day age: 33
2018 playing time: 10 games (7 regular season + 3 postseason); 1.5% defensive snaps, 64.6% special teams snaps
2018 regular season statistics: 1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery; 3 special teams tackles, 2 blocked punts
2018 postseason statistics: 1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery
2018 cap number: $296,471
Midway through his ninth season with the Baltimore Ravens, special teamer and rotational linebacker Albert McClellan was released by the club. Exactly one week later, the veteran found a new home when the Patriots signed him to bolster a special teams coverage unit that has been inconsistent up until that point. Adding McClellan, and Ramon Humber, to the group quickly paid off from the organization’s perspective.
In only his third game for New England, McClellan became the first player in 15 years to block two punts in one game — his biggest performance of the year, but far from the only positive impact he had. Despite his limited defensive contributions as the fourth linebacker behind Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, McClellan was a valuable member of the Patriots’ championship roster as a member of all four kickoff and punt units.
Why should he be re-signed? Adding McClellan helped stabilize New England’s special teams units and his experience and productivity in the game’s third phase could be valuable assets again in 2019. Furthermore, McClellan will likely not break the bank this offseason due to his comparatively advanced age.
Why should he be let go? With both Ja’Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam returning off injured reserve, New England might opt to go with younger options at linebacker that bring more defensive upside to the table than McClellan and could also work in the kicking game. Furthermore, there is a chance that the veteran — given his status as a Super Bowl winner — still gets offered a better contract outside of New England.
Projection: The Patriots re-sign McClellan on a one-year contract worth around $900,000.