Tom Brady of the New England Patriots
The writing was on the wall towards the end of the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
With quarterback Tom Brady approaching the free agency and looking for more and less likely to return to New England next year, the Patriots will start a season with a new quarterback for the first time since 2001. But Brady isn’t the only high-profile free agent the Patriots will have to worry about locking up for next year.
Some of the Patriots’ top players will be free for free agency next season and may request a hefty contract, something the Patriots can’t afford to give many players. While players are proven leaders within the Patriots system, they will not always work when they leave. Regardless, there are some players who are about to be paid big money next season, and here are the top five Patriots free agents entering the market.
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The long-time Patriots quarterback will likely leave after the season as he enters free agency for the first time. At 42, Brady is beginning to feel the effects of his age even though he claims to maintain the same youthful energy that he began his career.
If Brady doesn’t sign elsewhere, likely with the Los Angeles Charger, retirement is the likely destination for the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. Even if he signs elsewhere, it won’t be more than a year or two top.
Substitute: Jarrett Stidham is currently happy to replace Brady at quarterback, but if it works out it’s a different story. New England could look to bring in another veteran in a short term deal to help bridge the gap between Brady and Stidham, and Philip Rivers could be the man.
The left guard surrendered to Aaron Donald during Super Bowl LIII and has been the most consistent lineman for New England since he was drafted by the team. Thuney ordered a big contract, but the Patriots might not want to give him one.
With New England paying David Andrews and Shaq Mason, the extra money for another guard could be huge.
Substitute: With Thuney gone and Andrews healthy next year, Ted Karras could resign at a low price while injuring injured rookie Hjalte Froholdt down the line.
Kyle Van Noy
Perhaps most affecting in the offseason, Van Noy led the Patriots with 14 QB hits in the regular season and has been one of the league’s top outside linebackers since arriving in New England in 2016 .
He successfully wrapped up his career in New England and is now in line for a big deal in the offseason, perhaps with the Patriots.
Substitute: In reality, the Patriots should make it a priority for Van Noy to resign. But if they can’t afford it, they can turn to the free agency or even the draft for a replacement.
Another outside linebacker and pass rusher who is familiar with the Patriots’ defensive strategy. New England hopes to retain one of the Van Noys or Collins, and the latter may end up being one.
But if he leaves after living an ardent career, it could be for a contract that is not in the New England price range.
Substitute: Leaving vacancies could open for Derek Rivers in Patriots defense. This will be a contract year for the 2017 draft selection and perhaps a final chance to stay on the Patriots defense.
Another longtime Patriots captain, special teams are approaching his 35th season and may be in a position to retire after what has been a successful career. Slater has figured out what it means to be a role player in the modern-day NFL and can move right into a coaching role.
Substitute: If he retires, Nate Ebner and Brandon Bolden will help fill in for Slater’s absence while Justin Bethel will step into Slater.
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