24 Feb Lazar Cartu Supports: Patriots offseason 2020 hub: Free agency scorecard, key dat…
For the New England Patriots, the buzz surrounding their upcoming offseason revved up much faster than they’ve grown accustomed to. Instead of reaching the NFL‘s final game of the year in the Super Bowl, they were booted from the postseason on Wild-Card Weekend by Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. Now, they’re looking at what has the potential to be a transformative offseason, especially under center.
Of course, we’re talking about Tom Brady and his looming free agency. For the first time in his entire 20-year NFL career, Brady will have the opportunity to speak with other teams across the league about a future that doesn’t involve the Patriots. That will unquestionably be the first major domino to fall for New England, who will get their chance to woo Brady back to Foxborough for the rest of his football days. That said, they’ll need to put some serious weapons around him to ensure he’s in a Patriots uniform for his entire career. While Brady’s free agency will be priority No. 1, there are a number of other free agents that will be important for the Patriots to retain. Longtime safety and Patriots captain Devin McCourty is just one of the names entering the open market this offseason, as well.
As it relates to the coaching staff, we’ve already seen some turnover as special teams coordinator Joe Judge elected to take the head coaching job of the New York Giants. The good news for the Patriots, however, is that they were able to retain offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels once again and signed director of player personnel Nick Caserio to a contract extension, keeping key pillars of the masthead intact.
As we move through the entire offseason, this hub will serve as a go-to spot for everything related to the Patriots. We’ll have all the important dates, free agency scorecards, draft content, the latest rumors and news revolving around New England, and much more. Before we jump into the personnel, let’s take a look at the need-to-know dates for the offseason.
Key upcoming dates
- February 25 through March 2: The NFL Combine takes place. There will undoubtedly be a high volume of Patriots evaluators in Indianapolis throughout the combine, including head coach Bill Belichick.
- March 10: Deadline for NFL teams to place the franchise or transition tag on a player. New England rarely uses the franchise tag with the most recent time coming back in 2015 with kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Even that tag was simply a placeholder for his long-term deal with the club. Before that, the Patriots placed it on receiver Wes Welker in 2012. While it’s rare, that doesn’t mean Belichick won’t use it this offseason if deemed necessary. The only player he cannot franchise or place any tag on is Tom Brady due to language in his contract.
- March 16: The NFL’s legal tampering period begins. Free agency may not begin for a couple more days, but this is a period where teams can contact and enter contract negotiations with players. This will be an important period for the Patriots as they’ll really start to see their competition in their attempt to re-sign Tom Brady. The Chargers and Raiders will reportedly have interest, but this period will give them the opportunity to actually speak with him.
- March 18: The new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET. Free agent signings around the NFL will be reported prior to this, but they won’t become official until 4 p.m. ET on March 18. As it relates to Brady’s free agency, the start of the new league year is important for the Patriots cap situation. If Brady is not re-signed by this juncture, New England will be dinged with the full $13.5 million dead cap hit for 2020 that remains on Brady’s existing deal, which would naturally hurt them trying to bring aboard talent across the roster.
- March 29 through April 1: The NFL’s Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida takes place. This is an opportunity for fans to potentially hear from owner Robert Kraft about the latest happenings surrounding the team and the league as a whole.
- Mid-April: The NFL will release the 2020 regular season schedule.
- April 23 through April 25: The NFL Draft takes place in Las Vegas. New England’s first selection in the opening round is at No. 23 overall.
- April 27: NFL teams can request permission to visit with, try out, or sign any player who was under contract to the XFL at the conclusion of the XFL season.
- May 1 through May 4: Teams can hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
*The Patriots will also hold OTAs and one mandatory minicamp during several weeks in June followed by a roughly six-week break before the start of training camp in late July. Final dates to be determined.
Free Agent Scorecard
Restricted free agents:
Adam Butler, defensive tackle
Jermaine Eluemunor, guard
Keionta Davis, defensive end
Adam Butler is the restricted free agent to keep your eye on out of this trio. The former undrafted defensive tackle out of Vanderbilt has blossomed into a strong rotational player in New England’s front seven and has shown the ability to rush the passer. He finished the 2019 season with six sacks, nine quarterback hits and 26 total tackles in 16 games played (two starts). He will undoubtedly be a player that the Patriots will try to keep considering the turnover they may see across the defense. As for Eluemunor, the Patriots acquired the offensive lineman and a sixth-round pick in a trade with the Ravens in exchange for a 2020 fourth-round pick. He was really just a depth piece along an offensive line that saw injuries hit the interior with starting center David Andrews missing the entire year. Meanwhile, Keionta Davis was placed on injured reserve over the summer and missed the 2019 season. The undrafted defensive end does have the physical attributes (6-foot-3, 280 lbs) to still be an intriguing prospect for New England going forward and was playing well in the preseason last year before landing on IR.
*Restricted free agents will have to be tendered by New England in order for them to be on the roster in 2020. The Patriots can assign a number of different tenders on their restricted free agents (original round tender, second-round tender, first-round tender, etc). Each tender comes with a higher 2020 salary. Those numbers have not yet been determined by the NFL.
Unrestricted in-house free agents
Tom Brady, quarterback
Devin McCourty, safety
Kyle Van Noy, linebacker
Matthew Slater, wide receiver/gunner
Phillip Dorsett, wide receiver
Nate Ebner, safety/special teamer
Jamie Collins, linebacker
Danny Shelton, defensive tackle
Nick Folk, kicker
Marshall Newhouse, right tackle
Joe Thuney, left guard
Shilique Calhoun, linebacker
James Ferentz, center
Ted Karras, center
Elandon Roberts, linebacker
Tom Brady is the straw that stirs the free agent drink of the Patriots this offseason. In fact, he’s such an important free agent that we have an entireto keep track of the latest happenings with him. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why he’s such a major figure for the Patriots this offseason, so we won’t dive too deep into TB12 here. Instead, we’ll take a look at a few other big names that are worth monitoring.
Defensively, Devin McCourty already announced that, which now opens the possibility of the longtime Patriots safety to potentially leave Foxborough and join a new club for the first time in his career. Even at age 32, McCourty still has the ability to be a high-performing safety in the NFL. He totaled five interceptions last season (most since 2012) and had 58 tackles for a defense that allowed the second-fewest yards in the league in 2019. Kyle Van Noy is another name to look at as he’s set to hit unrestricted free agency as well. The linebacker, who had a career-high 6.5 sacks last season, told that he’d love to stay with the Patriots. That said, his market will likely be robust, so it could cost New England a pretty penny to retain him. Jamie Collins, however, may just be the easiest linebacker to re-sign as the veteran already knows that the grass isn’t always greener beyond Foxborough and enjoyed a strong season in 2019, sparking off his second tenure with the club.
On the offensive side of the ball, starting left guard Joe Thuney is the big name not named Tom Brady. He’s likely to see a market-setting deal this offseason as he’s been an absolute stud for the Patriots on the interior since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With his looming hot market in mind, it seems unlikely a return to…