It hasn’t been flashy but the Patriots have begun building their 2017 squad as the “legal tampering period” opens. The initial moves started with the re-signing of James Develin, who didn’t even need to hit the open market.
#Patriots signed FB and tough dude James Develin to a 2-year deal worth $2.8M, source said. Checking off an important box before FA.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2017
Develin is the ultimate game plan piece and if you don’t love having a big fullback on the roster you don’t love football. Belichick loves Develin’s toughness so there’s little surprise the Pats were able to lock up Develin so quickly. Develin played 31 percent of the offensive snaps and 33 percent of the special teams snaps, showing that while he’s not an every down guy he does plenty of the dirty work that wins football games.
The Pats have also started tendering their restricted free agents, with Justin Coleman, Cameron Fleming and Matt Lengel the first to be announced. I’ll keep updating this post as others are announced, including the biggest one, Malcolm Butler, who is almost assured of getting a first-round tender.
Coleman had a promising rookie year but fell off the map in 2016, playing 226 total snaps. But with Logan Ryan likely departing there’s good reason to keep Coleman around. Let’s remember Ryan fell off the map in 2014 after a solid rookie campaign. Coleman could bounce back. He has good physicality and sometimes a year on the bench can help a player grow.
Lengel was acquired after Gronk went down, and ended up playing in six games with two catches, one which went for a touchdown. He adds much needed depth at the tight end position. Most of us seem to agree the Pats should be active in the draft for a tight end, assuming they’ll have to replace Marty Bennett. But Lengel gives them experienced insurance in a blocking role that will be valuable.
Patriots have informed restricted free-agent OT Cameron Fleming he will be tendered at the original-round level ($1.797m).
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 7, 2017
Fleming is a good third tackle who also filled in at left tackle last season. He has versatility to play both sides and is a solid depth piece. I’d still love to add another athletic tackle, but keeping Fleming was a no-brainer.
Other restricted free agents to come today: Butler and Brandon King. All should be retained as well.