Who’s Left For Patriots To Target After Initial Free Agent Frenzy?

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Free agent wide receiver Jordy Nelson

Photo via Jim Matthews/Wisconsin via USA TODAY NETWORK

A certain subset of New England Patriots fans are in full-on panic mode after losing Danny Amendola, Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis in free agency.

The Patriots have been tied to a few free agents but haven’t made a move beyond reportedly extending special teamer Nate Ebner on a two-year deal. So, who’s still out there for the Patriots to sign and re-sign?

Let’s first take a look at the Patriots’ own free agents:

LT Nate Solder
OT Cameron Fleming
OT LaAdrian Waddle
RB Rex Burkhead
WR Matthew Slater
LB Marquis Flowers
LB James Harrison
CB Johnson Bademosi
DT Alan Branch
DT Ricky Jean Francois

Some notes:

— Solder is the most important player in that group, and if the Patriots can’t bring him back, then there’s legitimate reason to be concerned. New England would need to re-sign one or both of Fleming and Waddle and probably spend the 31st overall pick in the draft on the best available offensive tackle. Going into 2018 with Fleming and/or Waddle, a rookie and Cole Croston, Andrew Jelks and Antonio Garcia competing for a starting tackle job is not at all ideal.

UPDATE (11:15 a.m. ET): Solder reportedly is signing with the New York Giants on a four-year, $62 million contract.

— Burkhead would be a nice consolation prize for losing Lewis. Burkhead shouldn’t cost an average of $5 million per year like Lewis did.

— It’s surprising Slater hasn’t re-signed yet, though he’s expected to.

— Branch and Jean Francois will not be returning.

Now, here are some free agents from outside the organization who could interest the Patriots:

QB AJ McCarron
RB Danny Woodhead
RB LeGarrette Blount
RB Doug Martin
WR Jordy Nelson
TE Tyler Eifert
DE Trent Murphy
DT Ndamukong Suh
LB Preston Brown
LB Paul Worrilow
CB Patrick Robinson
CB T.J. Carrie
CB Davon House
CB Delvin Breaux

Some notes:

— The Patriots have reported interest in McCarron, Worrilow and Robinson. If the price is right on McCarron, then it would free up New England from having to draft a quarterback.

— Bringing back Woodhead or Blount would be a solid move from a public relations standpoint to curry the favor of fans upset about losing Amendola, Lewis and Butler.

— We already wrote a Nelson-Patriots union seems unlikely. It all depends on his market, however.

— There are rumors the Patriots want to sign Suh when he’s released by the Miami Dolphins. It would be a pricy move. Could they afford Solder and Suh?

— The market has been slow on some of the top linebackers. Brown would be a nice fit in New England.

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