For the second year in a row, the NFL offseason has opened up with the legal tampering period and for the second year, the Patriots are the biggest loser. A year ago, the Patriots lost the likes of Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis. This year, with two of the top free agents on the board, they ended up losing both.
In back-to-back offseasons, the Patriots have now lost their starting Left Tackle in free agency to become the highest paid offensive linemen in NFL history. Yes, after one year in New England, Trent Brown is now the richest OL in the NFL, beating what Solder received from the Giants one year ago.
Also, after letting Chandler Jones go a couple years ago to become one of the highest paid pass rushers in the league, history has repeated itself. Trey Flowers is leaving the Patriots and is signing a massive deal to reunite with his old coordinator, Matt Patricia, with the Lions.
Whenever you lose two of the top free agents in free agency, you become the biggest loser. That is just a fact. The Patriots lost two extremely talented players at two of the most important positions in football.
Does this mean that the Patriots are in trouble? Probably not. Dante Scarnecchia is a miracle worker on the Offensive Line and the Patriots drafted Isaiah Wynn in the 1st round last year for a reason. Speaking of drafting, this year’s draft is LOADED with impact Defensive Linemen. The Patriots also have a league-high twelve (12!) draft picks. So while losing both Trey and Trent hurts, there should be ways to address the huge holes they left.
Personally, I understand not signing either of these two. Both got paid crazy money and while I wish they were both back, I get that the Patriots can’t afford those deals. However, I am mad that they waited this long for both players. The Patriots should have taken care of Trey Flowers way before this. They should have paid him before this season. You could argue that they should have even paid him 2 seasons ago coming off of Super Bowl 51. Trey has been a beast for the Patriots for a couple seasons now and if they extended him early like they have done with other players, they could have locked up the young star at a much cheaper price. Trey is not only a great player, but a great character and locker room guy. They should have identified him and took care of him before he reached the open market and every other pass rusher got franchised.
Speaking of being franchised, I am disappointed that the Patriots didn’t take advantage of their tag. Trent Brown to me was an obvious candidate for the franchise tag. He is a guy that they did not want to commit to long term, but bringing him back for one last year made too much sense. Especially when you consider that their next man up in Wynn has never played a snap in the NFL and is coming off an Achilles tear. Oh and he is an undersized OT who was drafted in the 1st round because of his athleticism. I hope he is just as athletic after the injury.
Yes, I wish the Patriots were able to keep both Flowers and Brown. Yes, I understand that they both got paid more than what the Patriots could afford. Once again Bill Belichick and the staff are going to have to find less proven talent and coach them up. The question is, are those players already on the roster or are they going to have to add them through free agency or the draft?