Are the Patriots in danger of losing their defensive core?
After this season, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Chandler Jones will be unrestricted free agents. Cornerback Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. These young stars are the backbone of the Patriots defense. But they will be hard to keep.
The first few days of free agency show that teams will throw large amounts of cash at established players in their mid-20’s. And these signings will have an impact on the Patriots.
The New York Giants have been spending money like a drunken sailor on leave. They gave defensive end Oliver Vernon a 5-year, $85 million deal with $52 million guaranteed. That will now be a starting point on a new deal for Chandler Jones.
The G-Men gave cornerback Janoris Jenkins 5-years at $62.5 million with a $28 million guarantee.
Paging Malcolm Butler! Please step up to the negotiating table. The market has been set.
Bruce Irvin jumps from Seattle to Oakland for a $37 million deal with $19 milliomn guaranteed for four years. Jamie Collins a much better player will want more money than that.
These are just a few examples of how much money is out there and how much teams are willing to spend for young talent in their prime. The Patriots have been very quiet so far in free agency and the reason is they know they need to take care of their players.
Now it’s unrealistic for the Patriots to try and keep their Big 4 on defense. If I were them, I would trade Chandler Jones now and get something for him before he walks away in free agency next year. I would make an all out effort to sign Collins, Hightower, and Butler sooner rather than later because we all know that the price for these young stars will only be going higher.