The NFL off-season provides teams the opportunity to put their house in order. At the New England camp, some housekeeping is inevitable. With many players headed to free agency, this 2018 off-season is a golden time for the Patriots to renovate by changing a few things.
Ultimately, this move is geared to boosting the Patriots odds for next season. To fully optimize the new line up, New England is expected to reduce the number of their most expensive players. In addition, some players may have to take pay cuts while heading to free agency. Below is a list of players who might be affected in this regard.
Tight End: Martellus Bennett
Bennett's performance in the last season was dismal owing to multiple injuries. This tight end was signed by the Packers while in free agency and went on to play seven games. By November, he had suffered injuries leading to his release. After this, Bennett played two games with the Patriots and then suffered hamstring and shoulder injuries. Rumors about his retirement were swirling, but according to NFL insiders, Bennett is still eager to play in the 2018 season. Spotrac states that Bennett has a contract with New England that is valid until 2019. However, he can opt out. Bennett has a $6.2 million cap hit and a roster bonus of $2 million due in March, 2018. Indeed, this player's tag could be more than the Patriots are willing to part with. 2016 was the best year for Bennett at New England, where he managed seven touchdowns which was a career high. In this respect, the Patriots could retain him if he is willing to embrace a pay cut. Of course, he will have to tap into his 2016 form to deliver. It is a wait and see for Bennett as he turns 31 years old in the coming season.
Tight End: Dwayne Allen
Allen joined the Patriots in the last off-season as a tight end. Initially, many thought that he was the replacement for Martellus Bennett; however, this did not happen. 2017 was a very busy season for Allen as he played 16 games for the Patriots. His performance was best seen as a blocker rather than a receiver. In particular, his blocking of a 22-yard run by Rex Burkhead earned him great praise from the head coach in Week 12. In 2018, Allen's cap hit stands at $5 million and this is much higher than wide receivers Hogan and Elderman; this is according to Spotrac. To this end, he may be asked to take a pay cut if he wants to continue in the next season. His contract provides for opting out after 2017.
Potential player releases
Linebacker Shea McClellin did not participate in much of the 2017 season owing to injuries. In 2016, he signed a $9.05 million contract with New England where he can opt out starting 2017. According to Spotrac, his 2018 cap hit is $3.18 million and this could definitely propel New England to release him. Cutting him would go into creating some much needed cap room.
Defensive Tackle Alan Branch is also another name that may be cut from New England altogether. He was inactive during the final games of the last season due to injuries. Spotrac states that his 2018 cap hit is $4.5 million. New England may find it easier to let him go rather than negotiating for a pay cut.
Running Back Mike Gillislee is another player who may be released in the coming season. His performance was underwhelming and according to Spotrac, he carries a $2.1 million cap hit in 2018. He can choose to opt out of his contract deal. However, it is notable that the Patriots only have one contracted running back in the next season; in the name of James White. Letting Gillislee go may not be the best way forward. If a negotiated pay cut was to work, the Patriots would have one more running back in their camp.
Patriots becoming the Cavs of the NFL, with Brady being Lebron and aging vets taking pay cuts for one last shot at a ring.— Tim Cermak (@toweringCU) March 9, 2018