Tom Brady isn’t only Patriots player with uncertain future

Ryan Hannable
January 06, 2020 - 6:00 am

Saturday night was the last game as a Patriot for many players — and a number of key players at that.

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Besides Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Joe Thuney, Elandon Roberts and Matthew Slater are among a number of players set to hit free agency in a few months. 

And as things typically go, not all of these players will be able to return. Change is inevitable in the NFL from year-to-year.

Over the last few days, a few of these players, and others addressed their futures.

One player who doesn’t seem likely to return at all is tight end Benjamin Watson.

The veteran un-retired after a few months this offseason to join the Patriots for the second time in his career, but things didn’t go as planned, including being suspended the first four games of the season for a using a performance-enhancing drug while thinking he was retired.

“You know, it’s difficult,” a very emotional Watson said after the game. “I love playing this game, but there is a time when you definitely have to move on. Definitely won’t be back here next year probably and probably won’t be playing at all. It’s something I tried doing before and it didn’t work. There is only so much your body can take and so much you can put your family through before you want to settle down and figure out what the next chapter of your life is going to be. We’re going to talk about it of course and make family decisions. It’s been a great run and it has been really special to be back here and special to have the opportunity to play the game.”

While Watson appears to be done, another player who potentially could have retired — McCourty, who is 32 years old — said he’s planning on playing.

“I definitely see me playing football next year,” he said after the game. “I’ve had a lot of fun this year with this group of guys. Each year, we get young guys in here, get to stay in the locker room, mold this guys, tell them stories of my past 10 years and how much fun I’ve had. So, I can’t see it happening me not playing football next year. So, I think over time, I’ll take some time away from football and I think the rest will kind of work itself out. We’ll see how that goes, but I definitely plan to be playing.”

It's unclear whether that will be with the Patriots or not.

Another older player, Slater, who is 34 years old, said he needs some time to decide whether or not he wants to play another year.

“You know, I have to pray about that,” he said. “I am not going to do anything that I don’t feel like God is calling me to do, but I would certainly still love to play and enjoy the competition and comradery. I am just going to be praying about it and we will take it from there.”

For Van Noy, he’s already been on record saying he would like to return, but wants to be paid. On Sunday, he admitted he’s already began thinking about free agency.

“If I told you I didn’t, I would be lying,” he said to reporters. “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.”

Given what he likely will get on the open market, he seems unlikely to be back.

Other players who are free agents include center Ted Karras and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Both don’t know what will happen in the coming months.

“We’ll see,” Dorsett said to reporters Sunday. “We’ll see what happens. I can’t answer that question. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know what’s going to go on. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t make those decisions.”

As for Karras?

“There’s a lot of unknowns,” he said. “This is a business, and obviously, I’m just so grateful for the time I got here. I guess we’ll just have to see. Like a lot of guys on this team, it’s going to be a different spring.”

While it is uncertain what will happen with a number of players, what is certain is the team will not look the same next year as it does now.

Related: Odds for Tom Brady's future set following Patriots' Wild Card loss