INDIANAPOLIS — The New England Patriots declined to exercise the fifth-year options of defensive tackles Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton last offseason. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be back in 2019, however.
Brown and Shelton are set to hit free agency March 13. It’s possible the Patriots bring back one of the two players, sources told NESN.com. Both Brown and Shelton are open to returning, as well.
Brown, who was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, is more likely to return. He started 14 of 15 games played in 2018. He had 39 tackles, one QB hit and one fumble recovery.
Shelton started one of 13 games played. He was a healthy scratch for three regular-season games in December and the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Shelton had a tackle for loss in the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Patriots only are returning defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler next season. If the Patriots don’t re-sign Brown, then Shelton’s chances of coming back increase.
The Patriots and Phillip Dorsett have had conversations about a possible return, but the wide receiver likely will test the market, a source told the Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy.
The Patriots also believe cornerback JC Jackson could be better than first-team All-Pro Stephon Gilmore in the future.