The Patriots will have plenty of money to throw around this offseason as they look to construct an almost entirely new offseason.
They’re third in projected salary-cap space, per OverTheCap.com, with over $70 million in available funds.
One question on Patriots fans’ minds as the offseason nears is what happens with starting left tackle Trent Brown? We’ll answer that and more in this week’s mailbag.
What is the future of trent brown and how would you assess his play this year
Trent Brown will be a free agent after the season, and at this point, I would be a little surprised if he was back in 2024.
Brown has been very open with the media in recent weeks about injuries and team decision-making, which typically is not the Patriot Way.
He’s been the Patriots’ best offensive lineman this season, but there are also some durability issues there. He’s missed four games this season and been limited in other contests. He’s also missed time in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021. If Brown was to come back next season, the Patriots would need a really good backup option with starting potential. At that point, you might as well just add a new starting left tackle and let Brown walk in free agency.
There are a ton of question marks on the Patriots’ offensive line next season. Brown and Mike Onwenu are free agents. David Andrews will be 32 years old and in the last year of his contract, Cole Strange will be coming off of an injury, and Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi and Jake Andrews are largely unproven.
You can pretty safely pencil in Strange at left guard, one of the Andrews at center and Sow at right guard. But they’ll likely need a new left tackle. Onwenu is an option for right guard or right tackle if he’s re-signed, but he’s still set to hit free agency.
Out of all the pats upcoming FA, who do they resign? Is there any possible franchise tag players?
I would put the biggest priority (no pun intended) on Onwenu. Safety Kyle Dugger would be next, followed by tight end Hunter Henry, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, edge defenders Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Henry is a tricky one. His current APY is $12.5 million. He’ll be 30 years old, and tight ends are pretty cheap on the open market. Dalton Schultz signed a one-year, $6.25 million contract last offseason with the Texans and has been more productive than Henry. It would be slightly awkward, but Henry might need to take a pay cut to stick around.
As far as franchising players go, Onwenu and Dugger are the top candidates. Given the Patriots’ uncertainty on the offensive line, I don’t think you should let Onwenu get away.
Is there any way Mac Jones is on this team in September?
I’m not ruling anything out. We have no idea who’s going to be the head coach, general manager or running the offense.
Here’s what we know: Mac Jones is due just $2.785 million in cash next season, the last year of his rookie deal. That’s a pretty decent bargain.
What if the Patriots hire someone — either a head coach or offensive coordinator — who runs a Shanahan system? And what if the Patriots add a top-tier wide receiver through the draft or free agency?
It’s probably worth keeping Jones around as a backup or bridge option at this point, right? I still believe the Patriots should prioritize drafting a quarterback. But Jones could still be useful to the team in the right system.
Who do you draft at #2 if Drake Maye goes #1 overall?
Give me Caleb Williams.
Is Chad Ryland on borrowed time this early in his career?
I think a lot differently about Chad Ryland’s 41-yard missed field goal after MassLive’s report that officials had underinflated the Chiefs-Patriots kicking balls.
The Patriots haven’t signed a new kicker this week, which seems like a good sign for Ryland.
Could you see Rourke playing at all this season?
I would actually love to see the Patriots play Nathan Rourke at quarterback over the final three weeks, but it seems extremely unlikely barring injuries to Jones and Bailey Zappe.
Rourke has to learn a new offense for the final three weeks of the season, which is difficult to do. But he has enticing skills as a passer and runner.
Rourke will be an exclusive-rights free agent after the season, which means the Patriots can bring him back for 2024 if they want him.
Once again, that could be dependent on who’s in charge next season.
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