The start of the new NFL league year hasn’t been kind to the New England Patriots, as the defending AFC champions have lost Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis to free agency.
While each of those four players played a critical role in New England’s recent run of success, Patriots fans shouldn’t be worried about the exodus from Foxboro, Mass.
Don’t believe us? Just ask Louis Riddick.
The thoughtful ESPN analyst discussed the Patriots’ subtractions Wednesday on “SportsCenter,” noting there’s no need to worry because Bill Belichick is the best at navigating NFL free agency.
“No team is better than the New England Patriots at assessing veteran talent,” Riddick said. “Let’s just put it this way. Nate Solder is the only player of these four that they drafted high — first round. All the other players they picked up at a very, very, very discounted price. OK? And they made them into stars. They made them into desirable commodities that at one point in time I’m sure they knew they were going to lose because you cant’ keep everybody.
“Rest assured, Bill will find more people. He has done that his entire career in New England. He is better at taking guys who are proven commodities, maybe morphing them a little bit, but fitting them into the Patriot Way better than anyone. You can knock him for some of his misses as far as the NFL draft is concerned, you cannot really knock him in veteran free agency at value prices. He does the best job at it. He takes a very economical approach to it. I wouldn’t sweat this at all.
“The one that I would, because obviously left tackle is a very premium position, is Solder. And that was one of his guys, he drafted him No. 1. Bill drafts people No. 1 who he expects to keep for a long time. But they’ll replace him too, they have one of the best offensive line coaches.”
New England has plenty of time to fill the gaps left by those departures and already reportedly could be in on free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who would help shore up New England’s issues in the defensive trenches.
Everything will be just fine, Patriots fans. Take Riddick’s word for it.