Predicting Stay or Leave with the Patriots 2021 Free Agents

The New England Patriots closed the 2020 season with a victory against the New York Jets pushing their final record to 7-9. Although the season was filled with disappointment there’s little time to sit and sulk as it’s officially time to move on to one of the most important Patriots offseasons in recent memory. With the right draft picks and a good free agency, the Patriots could be back to contending in no time. However, with the wrong picks and free agency blunders, the Patriots would be left with a major setback to their winning ways. Before we get to the draft and free agency targets, it’s important to spend some time evaluating the Patriots’ 2021 free agents, and there are A LOT.

In today’s article, we’ll go through each of the Patriots 2021 free agents and predict, as things currently stand, whether we think they’ll stay with the Patriots or move on to another team.

Patriots 2021 Free Agents (Alphabetically)

David Andrews (C): Andrews re-signs. Andrews will have plenty of suitors in free agency, but both the Patriots and Andrews will have a vested interest in getting a deal done to keep Andrews, a good center and an excellent leader in the locker room, in New England.

Justin Bethel (CB): Bethel re-signs. With Matthew Slater contemplating retirement and the Patriots continued emphasis on special teams, New England will do all they can to keep Bethel around.

Terrence Brooks (S): Brooks goes elsewhere. Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips have passed up Brooks on the depth chart and with Patrick Chung likely coming back too, Brooks feels like the odd man out.

Rex Burkhead (RB): Burkhead goes elsewhere. This was a tough one as Burkhead is a Bill Belichick favorite and a good versatile player. Maybe he sticks around on a team-friendly deal. However, I suspect the Patriots look to get a younger healthier change of pace back.

Adam Butler (DT): Butler re-signs. Butler may get the bag from another team in free agency, but as long as the price stays reasonable the Patriots will keep him around. Butler can be a nice long-term piece in rebuilding the defensive line.

Damiere Byrd (WR): Byrd re-signs. If Byrd’s market gets too high the Patriots will move on, but a stacked wide receiver class in free agency and the draft should keep Byrd’s market reasonable. Byrd had a breakout year despite some struggles with drops toward the end. He shouldn’t be the Patriots’ only move at wideout this offseason but he would fit nicely as a WR 3/4.

Shilique Calhoun (EDGE): Calhoun goes elsewhere. I just haven’t seen enough from Calhoun to warrant another contract. His special teams’ contributions could earn him a cheap contract, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Brandon Copeland (LB): Copeland goes elsewhere. We never got to see much of Copeland due to injury. He’s great in the locker room but the Patriots will surely look to be upgrading the linebacker group.

Carl Davis (DT): Davis goes elsewhere. Just like the linebackers, the Patriots will also be revamping the defensive tackle group. This leaves Davis on the outside looking in.

Cody Davis (S): Davis re-signs. If Davis re-signs it will fall under the radar, but he’s a very good special teamer and he had a great 2020 season.

Jermaine Eluemunor (G/T): Eluemunor goes elsewhere. Eluemunor wasn’t terrible this season but the Patriots will be looking for an upgrade at swing tackle. New England may even be in the market for a starting right tackle depending on whether the Patriots prefer Michael Onwenu at guard or tackle.

James Ferentz (C): Ferentz re-signs. Ferentz will be cheap to re-sign and he offers depth at center that they’ll need if Thuney, who played some emergency center in the 2020 season, moves on.

Nick Folk (K): Folk re-signs. Folk was one of the better players for the Patriots this season. He should be brought back.

Lawrence Guy (DT): Guy re-signs. The run defense wasn’t good this year for the Patriots but Guy isn’t to blame. He’s still an excellent under-the-radar veteran and he likely won’t demand a huge payday. If his price tag gets too high, New England may be forced to choose between Guy and Butler. 

Brian Hoyer (QB): Hoyers retires or goes elsewhere. At this point in his career, Hoyer seems more likely to be the Patriots next quarterback coach than coming back as a player.

(RFA) J.C. Jackson (CB): Jackson re-signs. Jackson had real struggles when put in the #1 corner role, but he’s still shown a ton of promise. Being a restricted free agent means he should be easier and cheaper to retain.

(ERFA) Jakob Johnson (FB): Johnson re-signs. There’s no reason the Patriots wouldn’t bring back Johnson as he’s an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA).

Marcus Martin (G): Toss-up. Martin was signed towards the very end of the season and never got any real playing time so it’s tough to give a real prediction on his future.

Jason McCourty (CB): McCourty re-signs or retires. Jason McCourty is getting up there in age, but unless he retires it’s hard to see the Patriots letting him walk while Devin McCourty is still on the roster.

Cam Newton (QB): Newton goes elsewhere. It’s hard for me to imagine the Patriots running it back with Newton after such a dissapointing season. Sure it wasn’t all on Newton, but his struggles were still evident. That being said, it still wouldn’t shock me to see Newton and the Patriots re-up for another year, as they had a very good working relationship. However, before that happens the Patriots will assuredly look for an upgrade. If they can’t find an upgrade New England will circle back to Newton.

John Simon (EDGE): Simon goes elsewhere. Simon has been a solid player in New England but he showed signs of regression this season. He’s also playing in a much larger role than what should be expected of him. The Patriots will look to get younger at the edge postion this offseason.

Joe Thuney (G): Thuney goes elsewhere. This one hurts as Thuney has been a model of durability and consistency throughout his time in New England. He’s about to get a huge payday from another team though, and the Patriots likely won’t want to pour that much resources into paying two guards big-money contracts, Shaq Mason being the other.

(RFA) Dee Virgin (CB): Toss-up. (Explanation on Marcus Martin applies here as well.)

James White (RB): White goes elsewhere. Like Thuney, it would be tough to say goodbye to White, but as of now, it seems to be trending that way. White had a smaller role in the offense this year and he’s approaching the age of 30 (currently 28). It’s important to note White is still a very capable third-down back in an offense that has the ability to use his skillset properly. I have a strong feeling he’ll have a suitor down in Tampa Bay.

Deatrich Wise (DT): Wise goes elsewhere. Wise had a solid year and I think he’ll earn himself a nice deal somewhere else. Meanwhile, the Patriots will turn elsewhere to fix their issues on the defensive line.

Let us know which free agents you would prioritize this offseason!

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