When Kyle Van Noy signed a four-year, $51 million free agency contract with the Miami Dolphins last March, he probably did not expect to be cut one year later. And yet, this appears to be a very real possibility now: according to multiple reports, Van Noy is expected to become a salary cap casualty before the new league year begins on March 17.
With Van Noy headed for the open market again, he should be interested in following the footsteps of Patrick Chung, LeGarrette Blount or Martellus Bennett and return to his former team in an attempt to get his career back on track. The 29-year-old should re-sign with the New England Patriots, and them bringing him back should be a no-brainer.
It is fairly easy to see why that is the case.
1. Van Noy can still play
When Van Noy left the Patriots for greener pastures last offseason, he did so off the best season of his career. Playing 81.9 percent of defensive snaps for the number one scoring defense in football, he registered a team-high 51.5 quarterback pressures and also forced three fumbles, recovered two, and scored a touchdown. In his first (and only) year in Miami, he found some similar success despite joining the team without the benefit of a traditional offseason.
Van Noy appeared in 14 games for the Dolphins last season and notched six sacks as well as two forced fumbles and recoveries each. He also was named a captain ahead of the season. By all accounts, he had a good year — despite his stint in Miami soon coming to an unceremonious end. That he can still perform at a high level is without question, though.
2. The Patriots need front seven help
Getting Dont’a Hightower back will be an enormous boost for the Patriots’ defensive front seven — a unit that struggled mightily after its talent drain last offseason. Nevertheless, some additional upgrades are needed as well. Sure, youngsters Chase Winovich, Josh Uche snd Anfernee Jennings all showed promise since joining the team, but they are not as safe a projection for the immediate future as Van Noy.
Re-signing him following his inevitable release would therefore make plenty of sense. The Patriots struggled to replace Van Noy’s contributions on the edge not just in the passing game but especially versus the run: New England’s outside linebackers — be they youngsters like Jennings or veterans like John Simon — were inconsistent in preventing runs to the perimeter.
Van Noy could offer tremendous help in this area, while also possessing the versatility to help the Patriots’ linebacker group both on and off the ball as well.
3. New England has the resources to sign him this year
When the Patriots let Van Noy go last offseason they were in one of the worst financial situations in the league. One year later, however, they are among the most potent teams in terms of salary cap space: with roughly $64 million available and the potential to create more, New England is expected to be a big player on the open market this year.
Van Noy, given his experience in the system and the two points outlined above, should therefore also qualify as a target for the club — and one that can be signed as opposed to 2020. While his market and both sides’ willingness to reunite will be the deciding factors, the case should be pretty clear from the Patriots’ perspective: re-signing Van Noy would be a good move that addresses a need and immediately makes the team’s front seven better.