Though the offseason arrived sooner than the Patriots hoped, it is upon us and plenty of crucial decisions now lie ahead.

New England has 21 players set to hit free agency – 16 are unrestricted – and there are a number of popular veterans on the list, as well as ascending young players. So who will still be here training camp rolls around next summer? Here are all 21 Patriots due to hit free agency (sorted by their last contract):

Devin McCourty

Patriots safety Devin McCourty is an unrestricted free agent. For the right price, he could return, though New England needs to get younger and faster on defense. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Devin McCourty (UFA)
Previous contract (average annual value): $11.5 million
This one will likely fall squarely on McCourty’s shoulders. The Patriots will look to get faster on defense this offseason, but if the 34-year-old safety wants to keep playing at a realistic number, the bet here is that Bill Belichick will find a role for him. Though he isn’t the Pro Bowler he once was, there are few (if any) players on the current roster who command more respect than McCourty; he’s been a team captain for 11 years in a row.

Trent Brown (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $9 million
Brown and New England have been a perfect marriage thus far. The hulking tackle has thrived with the accountability required to play in Foxborough. The Patriots have an obvious need at the position going forward and he can certainly fill that void. It’ll depend on what Brown wants on his next deal. New England doesn’t have a ton of cap space, so he’ll likely be able to find a richer contract elsewhere. When asked about impending free agency, Brown decided to simply channel his inner Yoda, saying “may the force be with us in the future.”

Dont’a Hightower (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $8.9 million
While McCourty may still find a role on defense, Hightower feels like a likely casualty of the youth movement coming, especially if the team re-signs Ja’Whaun Bentley (more on him in a moment). Hightower has been a fantastic Patriot – Belichick nicknamed him Mr. February for a reason – but it won’t be surprising if retirement is in the cards

J.C. Jackson, Cole Beasley

Defensive back J.C. Jackson, right, will likely get the franchise tag.

J.C. Jackson (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $3.4 million
The most fascinating case on the list. If Jackson makes it to the open market, somebody is going to pay him Scrooge McDuck money. The bet here is that the Patriots don’t let him get that far and use the franchise tag. From there, they can either work out a long-term extension, let him play out the season, or trade the Pro Bowler. Whichever way, it’s better than just letting him walk for nothing.


Ted Karras (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $3 million
After Mac Jones took a beating in the first month of the season, Karras was inserted into the starting lineup in October and proved to be a stabilizing force. That can’t be lost on Belichick. He also brought a physicality that the group seemed to lack in the early season. It’d make a lot of sense to bring Karras back on another short-term deal. “I always would love to come back,” the two-time Patriot said.

Matthew Slater (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $2.65 million
Though New England’s special teams regressed in 2021, Slater was still very good. He’s mulled retirement repeatedly in the offseason, so this will just come down to whether or not the 36-year-old wants to keep playing. If he does, the gunner will certainly have a spot in Foxborough. “I’m closer to the end. We all know that,” Slater said after the season-ending loss in Buffalo. “I’ll pray about it and make a final decision and have some conversations. But tonight I just want to make sure I express gratitude to people that I owe it to and take time to be reflective, not only for the experience this year, but the entirety of my career.”

James White (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $2.45 million
It’ll depend on how White recovers from his season-ending hip injury, but if he’s good to go, another one-year deal here would make a lot of sense for both sides. White is still just 29, and when healthy, he’s been one of the most reliable and consistent Patriots of the last decade. He’d be a terrific security blanket for a young pocket passer in Mac Jones.

Brandon Bolden (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.85 million
If Bolden wants to keep playing – the running back turns 32 later this month – he’ll likely be back. Belichick has long praised Bolden’s special teams ability and lauded the way he filled White’s shoes at his season-ending press conference. “I don’t think anybody was surprised by the way that Brandon played offensively this year,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that. I don’t think that surprised anybody here, any player or any coach, anybody that’s been around Brandon on a daily basis like we have… you see that consistency from him every day.”

Brandon King (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.75 million
This one is a toss up. Belichick has always kept a stable of core special teamers – King played almost 70% of the snaps in 2021 – but those units as a whole underwhelmed for most of the season. It’ll depend on how Belichick saw the film.


Kicker Nick Folk hasn’t missed a field goal inside 50 yards since Week 1 of the 2020 season. It’s a no-brainer for the Patriots to bring him back. Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

Nick Folk (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.5 million
Bringing Folk back is a no-brainer. He hasn’t missed a field goal from inside 50 yards since Week 1 of the 2020 season – from that distance he’s hit 56 kicks in a row – and Belichick always values consistency in the kicking game. The 37-year-old kicker has no plans on stopping either. “I’d love to keep playing,” Folk said. “I feel pretty good where I’m at right now. I’m kicking well with Jake (Bailey) and Joe (Cardona), so I’d love to keep playing.”


Carl Davis (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.1 million
By season’s end the defensive tackle was a healthy scratch – he didn’t suit up for the playoff game in Buffalo – so both sides may be ready to move on here.

Jamie Collins (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.1 million
Though the three-time Patriot took on a bigger role down the stretch, it feels unlikely that Collins is back as the Patriots look to get younger at linebacker. They need to find the next 22-year-old Jamie Collins in the draft.

Brian Hoyer (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1.1 million
This depends on two factors:
1. Does the 36-year-old want to keep playing?
2. How does the team feel about Jarrett Stidham?
Hoyer was a valuable asset to Mac Jones as a rookie and served as his backup for the entire year; Stidham never passed him on the depth chart like he had during the 2020 season. If the team wants to see more Stidham it’d make sense to move on from Hoyer eventually, but at this point, Belichick has given no indication that he does. There’s a good chance Hoyer is back again next year.

Harvey Langi (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $1 million
Langi landed on injured reserve midseason, and though he was healthy enough to return to practice, the team never wound up activating him. That feels like an indication the two sides will part ways this offseason.

Troy Fumagalli (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $850K
The Patriots already have two young tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene who rarely – if ever – see the field on game day. Bringing Fumagalli back would be redundant.

Jakob Johnson (RFA)
Previous contract AAV: $850K
A restricted free agent, the German import will almost certainly be back. He’s consistently improved since arriving in Foxborough and the running game was effective (and at times outstanding) in 2021.


Terez Hall (ERFA)
Previous contract AAV: $700K
Author of some of the loudest pops at training camp in 2020, Hall never saw the field at all last year, opening the summer on the PUP list and never coming off it. The linebacker is an exclusive rights free agent, so if the Patriots offer him a tender at the league minimum, they’re the only team he can sign with. That feels likely, as they could use the depth at inside linebacker.

Ja’Whaun Bentley (UFA)
Previous contract AAV: $700K
Bentley has shown steady improvement over the course of his four seasons in New England and there’s reason to believe he’ll continue that ascension. Beyond that, he’s displayed leadership behind the scenes – Bentley was a captain in 2020 – and they’ll need him if they decide to move on from Hightower. Look for the two sides to reach a multi-year extension here.

Jakobi Meyers (RFA)
Previous contract AAV: $600K
A restricted free agent, Meyers said he “definitely” wants to be back in New England. That’s good, because he definitely will be.

Gunner Olszewski (RFA)
Previous contract AAV: $600K
The All-Pro returner took a step back in 2021, but it’d be a surprise if he’s not back at training camp in Foxborough next summer. Though he probably won’t ever develop into the Julian Edelman clone that some envision, he provides value in the kicking game.

Alex Redmond (SFA)
Previous contract AAV: $300K
A Bengal for the first four years of his career, Redmond appeared in games during every season he was in Cincinnati, starting 24 of them. He didn’t play a snap in New England. Both sides will probably want to part ways. As a street free agent (SFA), he’s free to sign anywhere.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.