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 days before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few 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 defensive edge John Simon.
#55 DE John Simon
2019 opening day age: 28
2018 playing time: 14 games (11 regular season + 3 playoffs); 21.9% defensive snaps, 19.6% special teams snaps
2018 regular season statistics: 17 tackles; 2.0 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, 1 quarterback hurry
2018 postseason statistics: 4 tackles; 0.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry; 1 stuffed run
2018 cap number: $1.07 million
Almost a month after getting released during the Indianapolis Colts’ roster cutdowns, the Patriots picked John Simon up on a one-year deal to bolster their defensive edge — a move that worked out well for both parties: the sixth-year veteran received regular playing time as a rotational option alongside Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Adrian Clayborn, and proved to be a solid addition to New England’s defense in a limited role.
Even though his stat-line is nothing to write home about, Simon was a valuable in-season addition for the Patriots. Bringing the 28-year old on board gave the team more depth along the edge and in turn allowed it to further mix and match the group in accordance to the opponents’ tendencies and strengths. And even though his name was not as often mentioned as Flowers’, for example, Simon still turned into a contributor on defense and in the kicking game.
Why should he be re-signed? Simon was solid in 2018 and a full offseason in the system could further help him develop and grow into a bigger role in the Patriots’ defense. His productivity last year and general experience in combination with projected low cost should make him an attractive option for New England — especially in case fellow free agent Trey Flowers leaves to sign a contract elsewhere.
Why should he be let go? This year’s draft is deep at the defensive edge, and the Patriots could try to get younger at the position while simultaneously reducing cost and adding more upside. Another reason why the club could go this route instead of re-signing Simon? If Flowers gets brought back on a multi-million dollar deal, New England might try to save money along the defensive line.
Projection: Regardless of what happens with Flowers, the Patriots will likely try to bring Simon back considering his role and contributions last season. Seeing him get re-signed on a two-year contract worth around $2.0 million per year would not be a surprise.