More than a dozen New England Patriots players are set to hit free agency at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. With the NFL’s free agent tampering period beginning at noon ET on Monday, here’s an updated look at each one:
Danny Amendola, wide receiver
The latest: It stands to reason that Amendola, who restructured his contract in each of the last three offseasons to remain in New England, would be willing to sign a team-friendly deal to stick around. Reports suggest the veteran slot receiver will garner considerable interest from other teams, however, with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reporting the Patriots will need to make a “competitive offer” to keep him. The MMQB’s Albert Breer mentioned the Kansas City Chiefs as a potential landing spot for Amendola if he does leave Foxboro.
Johnson Bademosi, cornerback
Not much to report so far on Bademosi, who played well on special teams and as a temporary fill-in for Stephon Gilmore this season.
Rex Burkhead, running back
Burkhead won’t be as in-demand as his backfield mate, Dion Lewis, but he’s far from a lock to re-sign. The market for the 27-year-old will be “competitive,” a source told NESN.com’s Doug Kyed earlier this month.
Malcolm Butler, cornerback
Butler’s Super Bowl LII benching sealed his fate. It would be the shock of the century if he re-signed with New England. It will be very interesting to see where he ends up and what his next contract looks like after an uneven 2017 season.
Nate Ebner, safety
As with most of the special teamers on this list, Ebner’s name hasn’t been in the news much since the season ended. He’s coming off a season-ending torn ACL but is an elite player in the kicking game when healthy. Our guess is he and Matthew Slater both return.
Cameron Fleming, offensive tackle
A weak tackle class could allow Fleming to earn a larger payday than he would in a typical offseason. Our friends at WalterFootball.com have him ranked as the second-best free agent tackle behind teammate Nate Solder (more on him in a bit).
Marquis Flowers, linebacker
Flowers, who has been talkative on Twitter this offseason, seemed to indicate he’d like to return to New England. It’s not hard to envision him receiving a better offer elsewhere, though, after his strong end to the season.
James Harrison, linebacker
We know Harrison, who turns 40 in May, wants to play next season, and Christopher Price of Boston Sports Journal reported last month there’s a “reasonable chance” he re-signs with the Patriots.
Ricky Jean Francois, defensive tackle
Jean Francois said his goodbyes to New England in a statement over the weekend, one day before the Patriots swung a trade for Cleveland Browns D-tackle Danny Shelton. He won’t be back.
Dion Lewis, running back
Lewis acknowledged during an appearance on “The Adam Schefter Podcast” that the Patriots are unlikely to give him the contract he deserves. One report indicated at least nine teams have expressed interest in the running back, while another said he’s a “long shot” to re-sign with the Pats. With the Pittsburgh Steelers placing the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, Lewis will be arguably the best back available this week.
Matthew Slater, wide receiver
See Ebner. Slater missed nearly half of this season with a hamstring injury and still earned his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl selection. He’s been a Patriots team captain for years and should be back.
Nate Solder, offensive tackle
Solder is the Patriots’ single most important free agent. He’s also the best tackle available, which will allow him to sign a more lucrative contract that might typically command. Peter King of The MMQB even ranked Solder as the best non-quarterback free agent and named the Houston Texans as a potential suitor. King added, citing a source, that the Patriots “are being quite aggressive” in their efforts to re-sign him but that Solder “is wide open and will consider all options.” Mike Giardi of NBC Sports Boston reported Solder is “far from a slam dunk to return to Foxboro.”
LaAdrian Waddle, offensive tackle
The Patriots’ third free agent tackle should be the cheapest to re-sign if the Patriots opt to do so. Solder’s decision will dictate how the Patriots proceed with Waddle and Fleming.
Note: This list does not include defensive tackle Alan Branch and tight end Martellus Bennett, who were released by the Patriots last week. Running back Brandon Bolden and special teamer Brandon King were set to become free agents but signed new contracts before the NFL league year opened.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
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