Eight teams are left standing in the NFL postseason tournament, but the New England Patriots are not among them. They are already in the process of turning their attention towards what lies ahead: the offseason has arrived at Gillette Stadium after their wild card playoff loss in Buffalo.
It projects to be an interesting one for the Patriots. The team did go 10-7 in the regular season and returned to the playoffs, but it does face plenty of questions after its late-season collapse and with numerous starters in all three phases headed towards free agency. With that in mind, let’s break down where the Patriots stand at this point in time one position at a time.
Today, we continue at fullback.
Contract status: Set to enter restricted free agency on March 16.
2021 review: Coming off his first season as the Patriots’ featured fullback, Johnson headed into exclusive-rights free agency. The former NFL International Pathway Program participant was retained by the team on a one-year deal, giving him another chance to serve as a valuable role player on offense and in the kicking game.
Johnson went on to appear in all 18 of New England’s games in 2021, primarily serving as a lead blocker in the running game. In that role, he was on the field for 325 of a possible 1,169 offensive snaps and also caught four passes for 43 yards. Johnson furthermore played 200 of 464 snaps in the kicking game.
2022 preview: Heading towards restricted free agency, the expectation is that New England will try to bring Johnson back. However, they will likely place neither the first- nor the second-round tender on him to do that; instead, the original round tender will be used to give the team the right of first refusal but no compensation in case Johnson leaves.
While that would open the door for other teams to scoop the 27-year-old up, it seems more likely than not that he will stay with the Patriots for at least one more year. Accordingly, the team’s fullback spots appears to be in good hands moving forward.