Why Nate Burleson Believes Patriots Need To Make NFL’s Biggest Move In Free Agency

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Nate Burleson believes the Patriots should focus on their own personnel before looking outside the organization.

New England potentially could see 19 players hit the open market when the new NFL year opens March 18, including stalwarts Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and, of course, Tom Brady. While it would make sense for the Patriots to be in play for some of the highest-profile free agents this offseason, Burleson seems to believe keeping the cornerstones intact could then help New England lure others to Foxboro.

“This is not just about going and getting guys from the outside in,” Burleson said Tuesday on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” when asked which team needs to make the biggest move in free agency. “How about the guys they already have on their roster? Tom Brady, that’s No. 1, Devin McCourty. How about Jamie Collins? What about the best special teams player of all time, Matthew Slater? You can’t have a Patriots team without Matthew Slater being on the roster. I know there are other individuals that are sitting there waiting, trying to figure out if the Patriots will snag them.

“I know a lot of guys want money. But like I’ve always said, if I could talk to a young Nate Burleson, who went through free agency three times, I would say, ‘Know what? It’s not always about the money. It could be about the legacy.’ So consider the free agents that are out there that are sitting back saying, ‘Man, I hope the Patriots call me.’ Maybe Teddy Bridgewater’s hoping the Patriots call. You know, guys like Amari Cooper that are hoping that the Patriots call. I know A.J. Green has a situation going on with the Cincinnati Bengals, but you just hope the Patriots call. I feel like there are a lot of individuals that want a ring or at least a chance to get it versus going and getting money elsewhere.”

The Patriots probably shouldn’t bank on Burleson’s take. It would be an awfully tough ask for players like Bridgewater and Cooper, both of whom are poised for hefty paydays, to take any type of pay cut as they enter the primes of their careers. New England has managed to finagle discounts before, but it’s typically with either homegrown players or players in the twilight years of their NFL tenure.

Not to mention, the mystique surrounding the Patriots very well could be fading. New England’s dynastic run isn’t going to last forever, and there’s already a number of teams across the league that conceivably would give a player a better opportunity to reach a Super Bowl.

As such, it’s probably unlikely the Patriots will be able to reap the benefits of their reputation this offseason.

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