Sunday 7: Why patience may be needed with Patriots as free agency begins this week

Ryan Hannable
March 10, 2019 - 6:47 am
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1. This is perhaps the biggest week of the NFL offseason with free agency getting underway. While some teams make big splashes early on in the process, this typically doesn’t happen with the Patriots for a few reasons. No. 1, they typically aren’t in the business of giving out big deals at this time of the year to sign the best players available (although they did with Stephon Gilmore a few years ago). Usually the team waits until the second or third wave of signings to make their moves. And No. 2, a lot of time the Patriots’ priority is retaining their own free agents and that sometimes takes time to play out. These players will often test the market and see what their worth is before coming back to the Patriots and giving them the chance to match whatever offers they have. Most notably, expect this to play out with Trey Flowers over the next week or so, as we expect it to go similarly to Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty’s situations in recent years. Although, it remains to be seen whether or not the Patriots will be willing to pay Flowers what he’ll likely get offered by other teams. So if Tuesday and Wednesday comes and the Patriots haven’t made any moves, don’t be alarmed, historically this is the norm.

2. While this week mostly is about free agent signings, don’t be surprised to see a couple of trades go down, including potentially involving the Patriots. Just a few years ago, this was the week the team acquired Brandin Cooks, so it has been done. It’s also important to note the Patriots have 12 overall selections in April’s draft, including six in the top 101 overall. They certainly have the picks to potentially trade for an impact player, and given what the market is shaping out to be at their positions of need, we certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

3. Immediately following Michael Bennett reportedly getting traded from the Eagles to New England on Friday, there was another report indicating his brother Martellus was interested in making a comeback to play with him. While on the surface it sounds appealing to New England, it's worth looking more into to see if it is worth it.. Bennett was out of football the entire last season, so it’s unclear what type of level he would be able to get to. And secondly, the Patriots aren’t exactly in a great spot at tight end. They can’t afford to have a player on the roster with a lot of questions. Regardless what happens with Rob Gronkowski, it appears drafting a tight end early in the draft is a top priority as the team looks to get younger at the position. While the Bennett brothers on the same team would certainly be a cool story, just don’t think it’s a lock to happen. Younger, dependable players are needed and it's unclear if that is what Martellus is right now.

4. Also surfaced immediately following the reported trade Friday was Michael’s comments about Greg Schiano back in 2015. Schiano coached him in Tampa Bay during the 2012 season and didn’t leave a good mark. In a radio interview, Michael referred to Schiano as a “stiff” and didn’t like the way he did things. Schiano, of course, has reportedly been hired by Bill Belichick to help run the Patriots defense. While a number of years have passed and both parties have likely matured, their relationship is certainly something to keep an eye on.

5. Who are the teams to make the biggest of splashes this week? Here are the top five teams in terms of cap space (as of Friday morning, according to the NFLPA): Colts ($101,523,486), Jets ($95,023,883), Browns ($80,722,665), Bills )$75,324,783) and Texans ($73,338,667). Keep an eye on those teams since they have the most money to spend. As for the Patriots, following the Bennett deal Friday, it looks like they have just under $17 million in cap space, but could create more easily with a few contract restructures, including a possible Tom Brady extension.

6. Speaking of Brady, a second TB12 Sports Therapy Center is reportedly set to open at the Prudential Center in Boston Aug. 1. According to the Boston Globe, more locations are expected to be added in the future, including New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. If there was ever any question as to what Brady will do in his post-playing days, we now pretty much know for sure.

7. While free agency doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday at 4 p.m. with the new league year beginning, the real action will begin Monday with the start of the legal tampering period where players are free to begin negotiations with other teams. It’s worth noting most of the signings get reported before the new league year actually begins, so expect a flurry of news over the next few days, as it isn’t like it all goes down Wednesday afternoon.

Related: Antonio Brown reportedly headed west, Steelers don't get much in return

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