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2020 NFL free agency: Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy is looking to get paid

Related: Tom Brady, Devin McCourty lead long list of Patriots to hit free agency

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The New England Patriots enter their offseason with 19 members of their 2020 roster set to enter free agency, 16 of them with unrestricted label. That group includes some of the team’s core players of the last season and beyond — from quarterback Tom Brady to guard Joe Thuney to safety Devin McCourty and special teamers Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner. It also includes three of the five members of the Patriots’ 2019 linebacker corps.

While team captain Elandon Roberts has played a more specialized role this season and served primarily as a run-stuffing inside linebacker that was also used as an emergency fullback on offense, both Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy were key members of the top-ranked scoring defense in football. Collins has not yet commented on his status as a free agent after the Patriots signed him to a one-year deal last offseason, but Van Noy has.

And the 28-year-old, who is scheduled to hit the open market for the first time in his six years as a pro, is apparently looking to cash in after a productive season as he told NBC Boston’s Tom Curran ahead of New England’s wild card playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. When asked if a return to the Patriots would be his priority, Van Noy answered that “of course” that would be the case. He also acknowledged a different outcome, though.

“Everything’s on the table. I’m looking obviously to get paid a lot. I’ll just leave it at that,” said the former second-round draft pick who came to New England in a trade from the Detroit Lions during the 2016 regular season. Van Noy did, however, paint the circumstances in New England in a positive light: “I’m blessed in so many ways and I’m excited to play for the Patriots and excited to play with my teammates.”

When Van Noy first came to the Patriots in exchange for what essentially turned into a 24-spot drop on the third day of the 2017 draft, he was still on his rookie contract. And while New England signed him to a two-year extension worth $11.8 million early during the 2017 regular season, he has not yet had the opportunity to assess his value on the open market — something that is bound to happen once it opens in mid-March.

“If I told you I didn’t, I would be lying,” said Van Noy shortly following the Patriots’ 20-13 season-ending loss against the Titans when asked whether or not he would already be thinking about the upcoming free agency period at this point in time. “But right now, it’s just sit back and wait and get better in this offseason, which I’ve done each and every year. This time is going to be nothing different.”

What might be different, however, is where Van Noy plays next year. The Patriots will enter free agency with roughly $42 million in salary cap space available — and a large portion of it might be invested in Brady and McCourty. Van Noy is higher up on the list of priorities as other players, of course, but his market will likely dictate whether or not he returns for a fifth year with the organization that turned him from a draft bust into a two-time Super Bowl winner.