MIAMI — Elandon Roberts made the trip to South Florida for Super Bowl LIV week. But for the first time in his career, he’s here as an outsider, not a Super Bowl competitor.
The New England Patriots reached the game’s grandest stage in each of Roberts’ first three NFL seasons, beating the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 and the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 and losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. That streak ended when the Tennessee Titans toppled the Patriots in the wild-card round earlier this month, handing New England its earliest playoff defeat since 2009.
“Man, it’s different,” Roberts told NESN.com on Thursday. “It feels weird. But at the same time, it gave me time to spend with the family. I just had the little one — my little girl — so just a lot of family time with her and whatnot. So it’s been different, but I’m enjoying it.”
The linebacker said it took him “about a week” to process the Titans loss.
“I was watching the AFC Championship Game, and I was like, ‘Dang …,’ ” he said. “But you can’t win them all; that’s the mindset you need to (have). I was spoiled. I had three years (of Super Bowls) back-to-back-to-back. Now, reality kind of set in.”
Roberts’ focus now shifts to the most important offseason of his NFL career. The 25-year-old is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time when the new league year opens March 18.
“I’m just approaching it one day at a time,” he said. “My film speaks for itself, so it’s not in my hands. I can’t stress about it.”
Roberts, who entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2016, said he’d be open to re-signing with the Patriots. But he’s looking forward to testing the market.
“New England, we definitely have some — I mean, that’s where I started,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to be back where they started? But at the end of the day, it’s a business. So it’s going to be a great one. … I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to go. It’s my first go-round (in free agency), so it’s going to be an experience. Whether I’m back in New England or somewhere else, I’ll just have fun with it.”
In addition to his defensive and special teams duties, Roberts played 58 snaps at fullback this season, earning praise for his blocking ability and even catching a touchdown pass during New England’s Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
A total of 19 Patriots players are in line to hit free agency this spring, including fellow 2016 draftees Joe Thuney and Ted Karras.