The Patriots are set to enter the free agency phase of the 2016 off-season and we’ll explore some of the biggest needs of the team moving forward. And some of the names of their own free agents as well as some of their potential targets.
Next up on the free agency positional list: Linebackers
Team Need: Medium
Returning players: Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, Jon Bostic, Darius Fleming, Kevin Snyder
Free Agents: Dane Fletcher (IR), Dekoda Watson (UFA), Rufus Johnson (ERFA,IR)
The Patriots lost an iconic figure with the retirement of Jerod Mayo this week, and while it wasn’t entirely unsuspected it leaves the Patriots with a depth issue behind starters Hightower and Collins. Those two are arguably the best pair of linebackers in the league and the team’s immediate concern is locking them up long-term.
When each missed time last season, the team relied upon both Mayo and Freeny who was primarily known for his special teams play. With Mayo now retired, who will they look at to play some important snaps and keep Hightower and Collins fresh.
Bostic would seem a likely choice, he was a starter in Chicago before coming over last season but played primarily on STs. With a year in the system could his role increase? Surely, but at this point, I wouldn’t expect the team to be banking on his rise.
Fleming, Snyder along with Fletcher, Watson and Johnson if they return are strictly depth type players. Which leaves the Patriots in a position to fill an important slot before training camp begins in July. They could address this in the draft or via free agency.
Here are a few free agents that could be on their radar, beginning with a guy that they’ve targeted in the past.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season 2015 Patriots 2016 free agents 2016 NFL off-season 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Bruce Irvin Danny Trevathan Darius Fleming Dekoda Watson Dont'a Hightower Jamie Collins Jerod Mayo Jonathan Bostic Jonathan Freeney Kevin Snyder New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots linebackers Rob Gronkowski Rolando McClain Shea McClellin Tom Brady