Our article series continues with who the New England Patriots should keep and let go for next season.
Alan Branch – Branch has become an important piece in the Patriots front four during his time in New England. To me, his ability to rush and take on double teams is essential and I don’t think there’s another DT on the team who can do it. Hopefully he isn’t offered a lot of money elsewhere, but as a veteran tackle at a role player position I highly doubt it. Belichick likes him enough to pay him fairly. Stays.
Chris Long – Chris Long was fun to have this season, providing depth with an adequate pass rush attack. Still, Long isn’t important or memorable enough to keep, especially with a budding Trey Flowers waiting to take on the pass-rush role full-time. If I were New England, I’d thank Long for his time and work and kindly show him the door. Leaves.
Logan Ryan – Like him or hate him, Logan Ryan proved himself as a solid #2 cornerback in the NFL this season. He’s come a long way, but he finally has an opportunity to make some serious dough in the NFL. If I were him I’d look for the money, so I can’t blame him for leaving, but I really hope he stays. I believe the Patriots also think of Ryan as important for the defense, but it’s likely based on free agency climate that this Super Bowl Champion #2 corner gets offered a large amount of money. Leaves.
James Develin – A literal cornerstone for the Patriots. In a league that has completely dismissed the Fullback position, Bill Belichick has found a way to make the position crucial for his offense to function. Now, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, because we DO function without him, but notice how much smoother things flow with Develin healthy. There’s literally no way he plays on another team next year. He’s too valuable and the position is so underutilized that signing Develin to a luxurious fullback deal is still a steal. Stays.
Jabaal Sheard – See: Chris Long. Sheard didn’t step up to the plate this season like expected, as he was given a chance to take over the D-line and instead was used situationally. With a young stud on one side of the line and Rob Ninkovich on the other, I doubt Sheard is spoken to by New England for negotiations. Leaves.
Michael Floyd – It’s a no-brainer for Floyd to stay on the Patriots, but honestly, I’m not even sure we will want him. Floyd was inactive in the playoffs, which proves he was really only brought in for depth during the playoffs. This doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t return with a bigger role after learning the basics of the system and playing with Tom Brady. His value must be low after his DUI, so this one is a true toss-up if you ask me. Leaves.
Duron Harmon – This guy is the true underrated player of the Patriots. Harmon’s always making big plays in big moments, and he’s always the next man up when we use three safeties. He’s great in coverage, and could easily be a starter somewhere and begin to make a name for himself. I really hope he stays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a team that needs safety depth gives him money. Leaves.