Will they stay or will they go: A look at Patriots’ own free agents and who will return in 2019

Ryan Hannable
February 14, 2019 - 12:11 pm

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the celebrating has wrapped up, the attention now turns to 2019.

One of the first things that needs to get done is taking a look at the team's own free agents and deciding whether or not they are worth bringing back. While there aren’t a ton of huge names, there are some fairly important ones.

The biggest are Trey Flowers and Trent Brown, but it appears it’s pretty much impossible to bring both players back. As of now, the team has roughly $20 million in cap space, but that number will certainly change by the time next month rolls around with players retiring, restructuring, getting cut, etc. Still, they are not in a position to sign everyone, they need to pick and choose.

Here are the Patriots’ own free agents and our best guess as of now if they return next season or not.

K Stephen Gostkowski (age 35) — Yes

For as much as people get on him for his misses in the playoffs, the reality is he’s still one of the best kickers in the league. Looking at other teams, it’s hard to find an upgrade for Gostkowski, which is why it seems to make sense for him to return on a multi-year deal. Of course, the team cannot break the bank given other needs on the roster, but perhaps Gostkowski will take note of that and sign a team-friendly deal.

LB Albert McClellan (33) — Yes

Not many teams in the league value special teams as much as the Patriots and McClellan was a major reason why the unit turned things around so much during the 2018 season. Being 33 years old, it’s unlikely he will generate a ton of interest around the league so if he wants to play another year, having a similar role to this past year with the Patriots seems like the way to go.

CB Jason McCourty (32) — Yes

Speaking to Albert Breer of the MMQB earlier in the week, McCourty expressed a desire to play another season. He obviously is tied to his twin brother Devin, who seems on the fence about returning. If Devin returns, it seems like a no-brainer to bring Jason back given how good their chemistry was this past season and how their veteran presence helped the secondary. While Jason may not be as talented as he was a few years ago, he still has a great deal of value.

LB Ramon Humber (32) — No

It’s hard to have a ton of strictly special teams players, which is why we don’t see Humber returning. It could be Humber or McClellan, and as of now we like the latter being the one the Patriots try and retain.

WR Chris Hogan (30) — No

For whatever reason, Hogan lost chemistry with Tom Brady this season and had a disappointing year. This was shown in the Super Bowl when Brady was 0-for-6 throwing his way. While he certainly won’t get the offers he was expecting going into the year, it doesn’t seem to make sense for New England even if the money's right.

P Ryan Allen (29) — Yes

Allen is one of the more underrated punters in the game and has been very consistent in his six seasons in the league. We don’t see any reason for the Patriots not to make a run at retaining him.

WR Josh Gordon (28) — No

Obviously, the No. 1 thing for Gordon is getting his off-field matters straightened out and the football part is secondary. But, if he does get reinstated he will be a restricted free agent and it’s unclear at this time how it will play out considering it will be past free agency and if the Patriots will still be given the right to match any offers he gets. Still, with the unknowns at the receiver position, it doesn’t seem like the best idea to take another chance on him.

WR Cordarrelle Patterson (28) — No

Patterson was a valuable member of the team this season serving in a number of different roles, but it would seem like the offers he will get on the open market will be higher than what the Patriots would be willing to go. He doesn’t seem like a player the team will look to go out of its way to retain. If he’s available on a team-friendly deal it could happen, but as of now we don’t see it.

OL LaAdrian Waddle (28) — Yes

Waddle is an interesting case and it may make sense for the team to try and retain him given the unknown at the tackle position next year. It seems like Trent Brown will not be back and Isaiah Wynn will slide in at left tackle. With him missing his rookie season due to injury, it seems wise to have a veteran swing tackle on the roster as insurance.

DE John Simon (28) — Yes

Simon, who was acquired by the team in the early part of the year, was one of the more underrated players on the defense this season. He found a nice role for himself and if he’s willing to return it would seem the team would love to have him.

DE Trey Flowers (26) —  Yes

He may be the Patriots’ biggest priority this offseason. What seems likely to happen is he will be allowed to test the market, see what his value is across the league, and then come back to the Patriots with what he has. It will then be up to New England to match, or exceed, to make sure he sticks around. Flowers seems to like playing for Bill Belichick and in the Patriots’ system, so if the organization isn’t afraid to match other offers, we like his chances of returning.

OL Trent Brown (26) — No

Brown is going to get crazy money as a 26-year-old tackle. Just look at what Nate Solder got last year and he was almost five years older. Especially if the Patriots bring back Flowers, there just isn’t going to be enough money there for Brown. It’s also worth noting they have Wynn in their back pocket as a fallback option.

WR Phillip Dorsett (26) — Yes

Of the three free agent receivers, Dorsett has the best chance of returning. For whatever reason he couldn’t pass Hogan on the depth chart this year, but it was not because of a lack of chemistry with Brady. Dorsett said at the Super Bowl he would like to return, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the team feels the same to give Brady another familiar face along with Julian Edelman.

DT Danny Shelton (26) — No

Shelton had a decent first year with the Patriots, but it doesn’t seem like enough for the team to want to break the bank for him this offseason. His same production could likely come from a rookie via the draft.

DT Malcom Brown (25) — No

It’s pretty much the same as Shelton. Brown was a solid first-round pick, but doesn’t do anything that jumps out making him worth retaining. The defensive tackle position feels like one that will be addressed via the draft.

CB Eric Rowe (26) — No

Rowe was placed on injured reserve following multiple groin injuries and it wasn’t the best year for it to happen as other cornerbacks showed they can play the position well. It doesn’t seem like Rowe will be brought back.

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