Patriots offseason primer: Which players are free agents, how much cap space is there, what about draft picks?

Ryan Hannable
February 07, 2019 - 1:20 pm
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Even though it’s been four days since Super Bowl LIII, it’s never too early to look ahead to the offseason.

The reality is the 2019 Patriots will be much different from the 2018 Patriots. Players will leave via free agency, maybe even trade, and then new players will be acquired both in free agency and then the draft in April.

“It’s the National Football League,” Bill Belichick said Monday. “Unfortunately, that’s the National Football League. Every teams turns over players and coaches every year. We’ll certainly turn over staff members. Last year, we turned them over. And again, so does every other team. That is the way it is, so whatever happens there, or doesn’t happen, we’ll continue to do what we feel is best for the football team and to be competitive in a very difficult and competitive league. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”

Here’s a quick look at the offseason will look like for the Patriots.

FREE AGENTS

DE Trey Flowers (age 26)
OL Trent Brown (26)
K Stephen Gostkowski (35)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (28)
WR Chris Hogan (30)
CB Jason McCourty (32)
DL Danny Shelton (26)
WR Phillip Dorsett (26)
P Ryan Allen (29)
DT Malcom Brown (25)
OL LaAdrian Waddle (28)
CB Eric Rowe (26)
DE John Simon (28)
LB Ramon Humber (32)
LB Albert McClellan (33)
CB Jonathan Jones (25, restricted free agent)

Analysis: It would appear Flowers will be the Patriots’ No. 1 priority, as they will be reboosting the defensive line and he’s a player the team can build around. It will be interesting to see what kind of market he gets since the pure sack numbers are not in his favor despite his talent. Gostkowski and Allen seem like priorities to bring back, and potentially Dorsett. Julian Edelman is the only wide receiver under contract for next year who was on the 53-man roster, so the team likely wants to give Tom Brady at least a few familiar faces. Players likely to depart include both Browns, Shelton and likely Hogan. Also, it is possible both McCourty’s will retire.

CAP SPACE

With the NFL announcing the projected cap figure for 2019 being between $187 million and $191.1 million, the Patriots likely will have around $20 million in cap space to play with. This number will obviously change a lot between now and March with players restructuring, retiring, etc. But, as of now, the team does not have even close to as much money to spend as some other teams in the league.

Analysis: By having close to $20 million in cap space, the team will need to pick and choose who it targets. It isn’t in a position to sign everyone, so they will need to prioritize and be selective. As of now, it seems like wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle and safety are priorities. Don’t expect a huge signing like Stephon Gilmore a few years ago since there just isn’t enough money to do so.

DRAFT PICKS

As of now, here’s what draft picks the Patriots will have in April’s draft — 12 in all.

Round 1: Own selection

Round 2: Bears selection, own selection

Round 3: Lions selection, compensatory pick (Nate Solder, compensatory pick (Malcolm Butler)

Round 4: Own selection

Round 5: Compensatory pick (Danny Amendola)

Round 7: Browns selection. Eagles selection, Own selection, compensatory pick (Cameron Fleming)

Analysis: Having 12 picks is a big deal, especially six in the first three rounds. This means the team can essentially target any player it wants because it has the ammunition to move up in the draft. Or, the team can use these six picks in the first three rounds to acquire some young talent the team seems to lack at the moment. When it comes to potential positions, it’s similar to free agents. Expect the team to target tight ends, wide receivers, defensive tackles, safeties and keep an eye on quarterbacks. If there’s a player they really like, it may be the time to go after him with Brady being 42 years old next season.

Related: Matt Hasselbeck says Tom Brady is handing Father Time a loss

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