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Patriots won’t lose much in free agency

Bill Belichick AP

If there’s a silver lining for Patriots fans after Sunday’s loss in the AFC Championship Game, it’s that the team is well-suited to make another deep playoff run next year.

All of New England’s best players are under contract for 2016, meaning the Patriots don’t have to worry about losing much in free agency. Mike Reiss of ESPN lists defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and safety Nate Ebner as the Patriots’ two top free agents, and that’s telling: Hicks played just 27.5 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps after arriving in a Week 3 trade with the Saints, and Ebner played just 4.2 percent of defensive snaps while also contributing a lot on special teams. When the best players you could lose are a backup and a special teamer, you’re in good shape.

The Patriots don’t have a lot of cap space, as they’re currently projected to start the 2016 league year at $5.6 million under the cap. But when all your best players are already under contract, you don’t necessarily need a lot of cap space to make improvements. And the Patriots typically don’t spend big on flashy free agent signings anyway.

All of which is to say that as long as Tom Brady doesn’t show his age at 39 next season, the Patriots will likely be Super Bowl contenders. As usual.

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52 Responses to “Patriots won’t lose much in free agency”
  1. astburyj says: Jan 28, 2016 7:31 AM

    Schedule is tough, AFC North and NFC West. @PIT, @DEN, @ARI. 12-4 wont just be whatever for them.

    #PROTECT12

  2. jimmyt says: Jan 28, 2016 7:40 AM

    Brady is done.

  3. skinsgal4life says: Jan 28, 2016 7:40 AM

    I hope they win Super Bowl 51–and I’m a life-long REDSKINS fan. I just love Tom Brady.

  4. butwhatabouttheintegrityofthegame says: Jan 28, 2016 7:41 AM

    Pats will be right back in the mix next year. It’s really must suck to root for one of the other teams in the afc east.

    Brady is the goat

  5. dcpatfan says: Jan 28, 2016 7:42 AM

    I am so proud to be a Fan of This Organization.

    To be in the mix every year is truly a blessing for Us football fans of New England! shoot out to New Bedford!

  6. intrafinesse says: Jan 28, 2016 7:48 AM

    It’s actually beneficial to lose an older player to free agency because you get an extra compensatory draft pick at the end of a round. Top earners give you an extra end of 3rd round pick for example, so when the patriots signed Revis for 1 year, they got an extra end of 3rd round pick in addition, so it was a great deal for them.
    The Ravens do this a lot as well.

  7. heisthejuan says: Jan 28, 2016 7:49 AM

    Rinse. Repeat.

  8. tonyzendejas says: Jan 28, 2016 7:50 AM

    Draft…offensive…linemen.

  9. factman66 says: Jan 28, 2016 7:51 AM

    “Patriots typically don’t spend big on flashy free agent signings anyway.”
    Let’s see, Revis,Browner, Rodney Harrison, Albert Haynesworth, and Corey Dillon, just off of the top of my head.
    As a matter of fact, the Patriots frequently build their roster through free agency, and its mostly due to poor scouting/drafting.

  10. dukeearl says: Jan 28, 2016 7:54 AM

    And if they aren’t contenders.. .they’ll cheat to get there…

  11. heisthejuan says: Jan 28, 2016 7:54 AM

    No major free agents, but a lot of good younger guys to figure out. Hightower, Collins, Jones, Butler all have contracts that expire after 2016. Pats will have to decide which guys they want long term, and write some pretty big checks over the next 12 months.

  12. The collective IQ of the haters is lower than the PSI of Brady's game balls says: Jan 28, 2016 7:59 AM

    If we have learned anything in the last month, its that HGH is no big thing. So if Brady starts feeling 39, all he needs to do is call up a shady clinic, get some HGH sent to Giselle, and its all good. So I figure Brady has at least 7 more seasons in him. 17 AFC Championship Game appearances sounds pretty good…

  13. cross300 says: Jan 28, 2016 8:00 AM

    Perennial contenders. Just another day as a Patriots fan. Lucky to be a Pats fan

  14. 6ball says: Jan 28, 2016 8:09 AM

    .
    In the salary cap era, no team wins Super Bowls on a regular basis. Besides the cap there’s always injuries and the fact that other teams are high quality also, to make anyone’s path to the Super Bowl quite difficult.

    Those who root against the Patriots are often rewarded. Since they get to the playoffs almost every year, they fail to win the Lombardi Trophy more often than not. Most Patriots fans are aware of this situation and are overall quite satisfied with the team’s performance this season. We knew going into the playoffs that the Patriots were considerably weakened by the loss of LT Nate Solder and RB Dion Lewis and , at best, every game would be a tractor pull.
    .

  15. blairwalshisthenewrayfinkle says: Jan 28, 2016 8:13 AM

    Brady is a cheater. I’m glad they lost. NE fans are almost as bad as Cowboys fans.

  16. anonymousnevermindfishdeath says: Jan 28, 2016 8:19 AM

    I’ll have to say I got a bit emotional on that last New England drive, knowing it would be the last Brady v Manning, what an incredible rivalry! We won’t see this again in our lifetimes.

  17. whywerule says: Jan 28, 2016 8:19 AM

    I would like to see the Pats keep Hicks as he did a nice job for them this season, but someone will likely offer him more money than what the Pats will pay for 30% of the snaps.

  18. hawk944 says: Jan 28, 2016 8:26 AM

    Lets not forget that the Denver Teabags will be back next year, they have become the Pats new Kryptonite.

  19. guitarkevin says: Jan 28, 2016 8:37 AM

    I’ll be glad when Tom and Bill are done. I respect their talents but I just can’t stand them.

  20. swagger52 says: Jan 28, 2016 8:48 AM

    Dear AFC East
    It truly is a blessing to to have no competition every year.
    Signed Yours Truly,
    Tom Brady

  21. luckyforus says: Jan 28, 2016 8:57 AM

    Besides being the best coach in the league Belichick knows how to build a team and gets rid of highly paid players that no longer justify their contracts.

    This years schedule was soft as they played the 2 worst divisions in football. AFC South and NFC East. And of course they always dominate their division so next year will be more of s challenge.

    If TB is the GOAT why didn’t he beat the Broncos. At this stage of Peyton’s career, Brady is clearly superior. Brady performed very poorly against Denver. Also Peyton since 2005 has a better playoff record and 4 SB to 3 for Brady. Brady is obviously a much better QB the last 10 yrs vs the first 4 when he won 3 SB’s.

    The answer is its a team game and Brady has had better teams and better coaching. Brady never beat a Belichick coaxed team.

    If Peyton had Belichick instead of Mora, Dungy, Caldwell, Fox and Kubiak he has 4-5 SB wins.

  22. knowspinzone says: Jan 28, 2016 9:02 AM

    Roger must be so pissed that losing a first round pick won’t matter much this year. He loses in court and he loses on the field.

  23. stealthjunk says: Jan 28, 2016 9:06 AM

    They may not be losing much but I thought their personnel really wasn’t all that great this year. Belichick the coachi must hate Belichick the GM.

    Injuries and age will take their tole unfortunately and the impact remains to be seen. People seem to think Brady will keep playing at the same level and claim he is “at his best”, but they seem to forget that Manning, who is 2 years older, just broke practically every single passing record just 2 years ago before having a horrendous season this year. Things can change quickly when you get to 38-40 years old. Other players like Gronk’s have torn up their knees so many times that it’s hard to believe they can do anything but regress next year.

    I have a lot of respect for the Patriots and as long as Belichick is there they will succeed. But take it from me, if you’re expecting these same players they’ve relied on for the past several years to beat Father Time, you may be disappointed. Other people will need to step up, kind of like several Broncos did this year when Manning hit his wall.

  24. belbobelbo says: Jan 28, 2016 9:15 AM

    Patriots will be good. Fascinating. Please wait at least 2 hours before the next Patriots story. Thank you.

  25. TeeHeeLOLatPatsHaters says: Jan 28, 2016 9:20 AM

    The cap situation isn’t that bad once the team asks guys like Amendola to restructure.

    Mayo and LaFell too, although it’s more likely the team will move on from them and that will give them even more room.

  26. zombiepatriot says: Jan 28, 2016 9:29 AM

    I’m always glad to see the salary cap information as over the years it has helped to quiet the narrative of the organization being cheap.

    Still, the free agent narrative does not tell the full story as their surely will be some restructured contracts and players potentially let go. Hopefully they can figure something out with Collins, Jones, Hightower and Mayo while also improving the OL, WR and secondary.

  27. patsfan1820 says: Jan 28, 2016 10:01 AM

    I think Mayo and Lafell will leave Amendola will restructure, the draft will mostly see offensive linemen picks, and the free agency will see the Patriots go after either a wide receiver or corner.

  28. tremoluxman says: Jan 28, 2016 10:52 AM

    Golden Boy is 39. So who are they grooming to replace him in the next couple years?

    The Packers had Rodgers waiting in the wings. The Colts went with Luck to replace Manning. Young replaced Montana in SF.

  29. mathprof84 says: Jan 28, 2016 11:00 AM

    The answer is its a team game and Brady has had better teams and better coaching. Brady never beat a Belichick coaxed team.
    ==================
    I believe Bill coaxed Seattle into passing at the goal line by not calling a time out. Does that count?
    He has also coaxed teams into trying certain strategies by showing them various looks.

  30. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 28, 2016 11:04 AM

    factman66 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 7:51 AM
    “Patriots typically don’t spend big on flashy free agent signings anyway.”
    Let’s see, Revis,Browner, Rodney Harrison, Albert Haynesworth, and Corey Dillon, just off of the top of my head.
    As a matter of fact, the Patriots frequently build their roster through free agency, and its mostly due to poor scouting/drafting.
    ———————

    Not that facts matter to nofactman but Dillon and Haynesworth were acquired via trades. Revis and Browner were brought in together in the same year because opportunity was knocking, it was indeed an atypical year. The roster building NE usually does through free agency is done by identifying under utilized players on other teams that they see as fitting in well. That is the result of excellent pro scouting.

    LMAO at the poor drafting/scouting comment. Looking at their draft position over the past 15 years one could much more easily make the argument nobody has done it better than they do it poorly. If only they could draft a WR worth a damn Pats fans would be hard pressed to have a complaint.

  31. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 28, 2016 11:22 AM

    tremoluxman says:
    Jan 28, 2016 10:52 AM
    Golden Boy is 39. So who are they grooming to replace him in the next couple years?

    The Packers had Rodgers waiting in the wings. The Colts went with Luck to replace Manning. Young replaced Montana in SF.
    ————————-

    At the moment that would be 2014 2nd round pick Jimmy Garoppolo. For comparison purposes not sure where the Packers and Colts come in. The Packers hadn’t won a SB in 10 years and Favre was talking about retirement. Luck wasn’t on Indy’s roster waiting when Manning went down, they tanked to get him. The Niners comparison is apt in that they brought Young in to be there to keep a dynastic type run going but is laughable in today’s salary cap environment. No one today could pay a future HOF FA QB to sit behind their current HOF QB without putting themselves in cap jail.

  32. rogerdw66 says: Jan 28, 2016 11:24 AM

    Brady is showing his age now, but don’t expect to hear the Pat fans that write for this blog to admit that. He lost 3 of his last 4 games, all with something to play for. That’s how it went for Peyton. He was having a great year last year, then, he started getting banged up at the end of last year. Pretty hard to upgrade an OL when you only have 5 mil to spend, soooooooo, you need a more mobile QB. Sorry to start your day with a little reality.

  33. mikeemorrissey says: Jan 28, 2016 11:34 AM

    “Since they get to the playoffs almost every year, they fail to win the Lombardi Trophy more often than not.”

    No. The Patriots are 4-4 in Super Bowls.

  34. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 28, 2016 11:46 AM

    luckyforus says:
    Jan 28, 2016 8:57 AM
    And of course they always dominate their division so next year will be more of s challenge.
    ————————–

    This is a common fallacy. The Patriots don’t do any better against the AFCE than most division winners do. For the 3rd year in a row they went 4-2 in division, no other division winner did any worse and half were 5-1. In fact the Pats have only swept the division twice in the Brady/Belichick era. It’s actually the AFCS and AFCW division winners that usually sweep or only have 1 loss in division.

  35. factman66 says: Jan 28, 2016 11:52 AM

    Nobody has done it better?
    LOL the Steelers and Packers have been doing it better for over 40 years. There’s no comparison whatsoever, the Patriots largely miss on a lot of their picks.

  36. beastoftw says: Jan 28, 2016 11:57 AM

    well Tom Brady and Bill B. are 4-2 in Super Bowls.
    the team was 0-2 before bill took over. Parcells lost the 2nd one. so not bad company.

  37. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 28, 2016 12:10 PM

    rogerdw66 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 11:24 AM
    Brady is showing his age now, but don’t expect to hear the Pat fans that write for this blog to admit that. He lost 3 of his last 4 games, all with something to play for. That’s how it went for Peyton. He was having a great year last year, then, he started getting banged up at the end of last year. Pretty hard to upgrade an OL when you only have 5 mil to spend, soooooooo, you need a more mobile QB. Sorry to start your day with a little reality.
    ——————————

    Very little reality. How’s this for an OL upgrade: LT Solder comes off IR, Vollmer returns to RT. G Ryan Wendell comes off IR, injured G Tre Jackson returns to the lineup while Cannon returns to the depth chart or the street. Immediate and substantial improvement at 3 of 5 OL positions without spending an additional dime

  38. theringisthething says: Jan 28, 2016 12:23 PM

    Rogerdw66

    5 for 20
    35 yards
    0 TD’S
    4 Int’s
    0.0 Qbr rating
    Benched in the 3rd Qtr

    That’s when a QB is old and washed up. Brady’s not quite there yet.

  39. davemc617 says: Jan 28, 2016 12:27 PM

    “If TB is the GOAT why didn’t he beat the Broncos. At this stage of Peyton’s career, Brady is clearly superior. Brady performed very poorly against Denver. Also Peyton since 2005 has a better playoff record and 4 SB to 3 for Brady.”

    Because his offensive line was basically non-existent? Because the Broncos defense took advantage of that? Because Brady had no time to progress through multiple reads?

    This is where I would explain that comparisons cannot be made in a vacuum… if I thought you cared. Instead, i’ll just point out that, once again, Peyton homers are changing their argument. Whenever Peyton detractors bring up his playoff failures, or his head-to-head record against Brady, they’re told that football is a team game and that that doesn’t matter. However, as they’ve shown time and time again, Peyton homers are more than willing to use similar arguments when they’re in they’re favor; case-in-point: your comment above.

    Somehow Brady is disqualified from GOAT conversations because he lost this game against the Broncos, but at the same time his first 3 SB’s aren’t weighted heavily because he has some solid defenses at the time….

    Also, 2005… I feel like something relevant happened around then. As if Bill Polian, the Colts’ team President, used his influence on the NFL Competition Committee to change rules to benefit the offense; specifically the type of offense (like the Colts’) which was based on timing routes. Something about 5 yards I think… I can’t remember.

    I’m being facetious of course. You probably should have mentioned that part.

  40. VenerableAxiom says: Jan 28, 2016 12:33 PM

    What? No compensatory draft picks this year and no first rounder.

  41. RE LEE says: Jan 28, 2016 12:37 PM

    Salary cap makes winning difficult. We Patriots fans do not realize just how difficult it is because we have BB. BB is indeed a genius. Haters will clutch on their sad excuses… It’s a sad existence they have.
    BB will let go some players to get more cap space. Mayo, Lafell, Dobson, probably to start… Heck! Brady might just give up more money. Brady is not the highest paid player in the team?! Players will take less because they see that the best QB in the NFL accepts pay like a peon and works like peon. Some wag said that it’s cheating. Brady takes less pay so that the Patriots can pay more players to win. Boggles the mind, no?
    BB is already at it scouting. This man is driven. It will be exciting to guess the schemes. Maybe our good players won’t get poached this year. Our picks are already stolen. It will be tougher to win next year for sure…

  42. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 28, 2016 12:52 PM

    factman66 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 11:52 AM
    Nobody has done it better?
    LOL the Steelers and Packers have been doing it better for over 40 years. There’s no comparison whatsoever, the Patriots largely miss on a lot of their picks.
    ——————————

    Once again a selective cherry pick ignoring the facts. The actual, and valid, statement was:

    “Looking at their draft position over the past 15 years one could much more easily make the argument nobody has done it better than they do it poorly”

    Note it says no one has done it better, it did not say that no one has done it as well even though they haven’t. Real fans don’t need to disrespect other’s teams to respect their own but since you brought them up it is no disrespect to say NE has been to as many championship games in the last 15 years as Pitt and GB combined.
    Since you were obviously trying to extend the timeline back further, in the last 40 years GB has been to the playoffs a very impressive 19 times, NE 23 and Pittsburgh an astounding 24. The fact that the bulk of NE’s trips have been accomplished in the last 15 speaks volumes to how well they build and restock a roster.

    That you once again attempted to change the argument does not change the fact that you have none. Also, once again, please feel free to list the exclusive private schools you previously claimed publicly educated self made billionaire Robert Kraft attended as well as what relative you contend he secretly inherited his money from. You could also include what team you actually do root for, we already know it isn’t the Giants. Another AFCE team or the ‘Hawks perhaps?

  43. 46namredyps11 says: Jan 28, 2016 4:06 PM

    I’d just try to ignore “fact” man, checkers. He strikes me as the type of person who gets more joy watching the Patriots lose a regular season game than he would when/if his favorite team wins the Super Bowl. It’s actually kind of sad.

  44. factman66 says: Jan 28, 2016 4:37 PM

    Real fans don’t root for cheaters.

  45. 46namredyps11 says: Jan 28, 2016 5:25 PM

    Like I said, a sad basement dweller indeed.

  46. 46namredyps11 says: Jan 28, 2016 5:35 PM

    Meant to add this to last one. RE LEE is correct in calling the first rounder stolen. Deflategate was never about deflation and all about the moronic notion that they got off easy in 07 from the Spygate garbage. When Kraft said he wouldn’t sue he was simply telling the owners that were whining about it that he’d take one for team NFL Ownership, if they’d finally shut about it.

  47. fanofpft says: Jan 28, 2016 7:04 PM

    The story has merit because so many abandon this sinking ship last off season.

  48. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Jan 29, 2016 2:26 PM

    46namredyps11 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 4:06 PM

    I’d just try to ignore “fact” man, checkers. He strikes me as the type of person who gets more joy watching the Patriots lose a regular season game than he would when/if his favorite team wins the Super Bowl. It’s actually kind of sad.
    ——————————

    The track record of glaring misinformation left in his wake is usually a source of entertainment but every so often illustrating it for others and drawing attention to the cowardice is a necessary evil

  49. solo681 says: Feb 1, 2016 3:17 PM

    If Peyton had Belichick as HC, BB would be benching Peyton and playing Brock in the SB.

  50. solo681 says: Feb 1, 2016 3:21 PM

    If Kraft were smart, he would hire a Private Investigative Special Ops Team to uncover all the facts surrounding Peyton and his HGH use.

    Then he gets Archie and Goodel in a private meeting and says : “I want my picks back plus an extra second round pick from the Broncos, or I release the evidence and sue for BILLIONS.”

  51. taintedsaints2009 says: Feb 1, 2016 7:31 PM

    i still don’t understand why they didn’t shell out the cash for revis. sure, it doesn’t sound like they liked him or he liked them, but they would have won the superbowl this year if they had kept him. No doubt about it.

  52. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says: Feb 2, 2016 12:12 PM

    taintedsaints2009 says:
    Feb 1, 2016 7:31 PM
    i still don’t understand why they didn’t shell out the cash for revis. sure, it doesn’t sound like they liked him or he liked them, but they would have won the superbowl this year if they had kept him. No doubt about it.
    —————————

    He was never more than a one year rental. Keeping him was never an option under the Patriots cap circumstances. Revis’ second year on his Pats contract was $20M. Even if he had settled for the $16M he got out of NY the Pats would have had to cut at least 17 off their 53 man roster to do it. Beyond the fact Revis would not have improved Brady’s protection or caught a single pass from him, how many games would NE have won with a 36 man roster? Not to mention the D was not the reason NE lost

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