The Patriots have 22 players set to hit unrestricted free agency when the NFL league year opens March 17. As that date approaches, we?re taking a closer look at New England’s free agents. Up next: center David Andrews.
2020 stats: 12 starts, two sacks allowed, 12 total pressures allowed (via Pro Football Focus)
Likelihood of return: Higher than most
Analysis: After sitting out the entire 2019 season with blood clots in his lungs, Andrews returned to start 12 games in 2020. He missed three October contests after breaking his thumb, and a calf injury kept him out of the Week 17 finale.
Though Ted Karras performed well in his absence in 2019, Andrews’ return had a steadying effect on New England’s offensive line, which proved to be one of the team’s strongest position groups over the course of the season. Andrews was the unquestioned leader of that unit, serving as a team captain in each of the last four seasons.
Andrews has been the Patriots’ full-time starter at center since 2016 and also started 11 games as an undrafted rookie in 2015. He’s appeared in 72 career regular-season games and started 69 of them.
Now, Andrews is one of two starting Patriots O-linemen set to hit free agency (along with standout left guard Joe Thuney), and of the two, he should be easier for New England to retain.
Thuney, who played on the franchise tag this past season, will be arguably the best guard available when the new league year opens March 17, with salary cap site Spotrac projecting he’ll command a market-setting five-year, $76 million deal worth $15.3 million annually. With right guard Shaq Mason already carrying a $9.6 million cap hit, the Patriots aren’t likely to devote that much capital to that one position.
Andrews is an above-average center, but he’s undersized (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) and wouldn’t be a fit in every NFL offense, limiting his pool of potential suitors. Last year’s health scare also could lower his value on the open market.
Spotrac’s market value projection for Andrews is three years, $21.4 million — a $7.1 million AAV. He also could be receptive to a hometown discount. Asked after the season whether he’d like to re-sign, Andrews replied: “Of course. This place is special to me.”
Keeping Andrews in the fold should be an offseason priority for the Patriots, who do not have an obvious replacement for him on their current roster. Career backup James Ferentz also is an impending free agent, and Marcus Martin, who signed in Week 16, has hardly played since starting 14 games for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.