Today marked the first day teams were allowed to sign free agents onto their teams. The defending Super Bowl champs have $55.5 million in cap space to work with; which compared to other teams in the league is very good.
The Patriots pulled out their checkbook and brought back some key players and land a big time free agent. This is an overview of the first day of free agency for the Patriots.
Pats land Stephon Gilmore:
This was huge for the Patriots, came out of no where really. No one could of predicted that Gilmore would be interested in joining the Patriots. Gilmore signed a 5 year, $65 million deal; pricey, but worth every dollar. He’s been CB #1 for the Bills for quite sometime, 4 time Pro Bowler as well, and was this years top CB in free agency. The Patriots made headlines in free agency, and boy oh boy was it a good one. Welcome to New England Stephon Gilmore!!
Pats Resign Harmon and Branch:
After Gilmore signed, Duron Harmon and Alan Branch were resigned by the Pats. Harmon was important to the Patriots secondary, him and McCourty back there gave QBs nightmares about passing deep. Branch was also a key player the Pats needed to resign; a huge part of our run defense starts with him. He was basically our Vince Wilfork replacement, we couldn’t lose him to free agency.
Rumors on Butler and Hightower:
These were are top two player that the Patriots needed to resign this offseason; neither have yet to be resigned. Butler’s situation is different; he’s a restricted free agent, meaning that the Pats have tendered him as a first round draft pick and $3.9 million. Meaning if Butler wanted to sign with another team, that team would fill out an offer sheet and the Pats would have 5 days to match what contract Butler signed. If they refused, that team would have to give up their 1st round pick and $3.9 million. Reason why no team has jumped on this yet is because they don’t want to give up their 1st round pick. He is still part of the team as of right now; if no one signs him, then he plays for the Pats for one year, and the following year he’s a unrestricted free agents. Now the rumor with him is that he’s involved in a trade with WR Brandon Cooks from the Saints; a player the Patriots have been interested in. So these next few days with Butler will be interesting.
As for the Hightower rumors, not much has come out. NFL insider Ian Rapport reported that him and Belichick had a good conversation over the weekend and believes that Hightower will return to the Patriots. While we can all take a sigh of relieve for now, nothing as been finalized, nor has there been any reports on Hightower. For now us fans will have to keep a close eye on this situation.
That’s all the Patriots free agency news for now, many more to come as the weekend rolls in.