Jets should explore adding Patriots in free agency

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With free agency fast approaching, the New York Jets should keep an eye on the New England Patriots potential free agents. There may just be some intriguing options for the team to consider adding.

To the dismay of every longtime New York Jets fan, the New England Patriots are on their way to another Super Bowl appearance. Tom Brady and company defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 last Sunday to earn yet another Super Bowl bid.

I’m well aware this is a New York Jets site, so why am I writing about the dreaded Patriots? The answer to that is simple, I believe that time is running out on the Pats dynasty. As such, Jets fans should keep a close eye on the organization this offseason. I believe the Jets can benefit from the situation and might even overtake the annual winners of the AFC East.

Let’s start with the Patriots estimated cap space for 2019, these projected numbers courtesy of Spotrac. Their maximum cap space comes in at $193,249,220 while the Patriots currently have $171,670,330 in active contracts, plus another $682,699 in dead money. Based on those figures, the Patriots will have a projected $20,896,191 to spend on free agency.

In contrast, the New York Jets will have the second highest cap money in the league, following the Indianapolis Colts. Estimates for the Jets have them at or near $100 million to spend in free agency.

Getting back to the Patriots, they have a number of unrestricted free agents that will be looking to get paid after the Super Bowl and their asking prices will only go up with a victory on February 3rd. I believe if the Jets play their cards right, they can improve their team at the Patriots expense.

Trey Flowers is due to receive a contract at the end of this season. The 6’2,” 265-pound 25-year-old defensive end has been a force on the Patriots defensive front for the past three seasons. In that time Flowers has totaled 164 total tackles, 100 of them being of the solo variety. He’s posted 21 sacks, five forced fumbles and nine tackles for loss.

A franchise tag for Flowers would cost the Pats in the neighborhood of $17 million and on the free market his value would likely be in the neighborhood of $15 million. The Patriots historically have shied away from paying huge contracts to defensive players and crunching the numbers, it would seem Flowers becomes available. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it might be fun to watch Flowers chasing Tom Brady next season in a green and white uniform.

Trent Brown, the Patriots huge, athletic left tackle is also due to receive a contract at the end of the 2018 season. Brown is a monster of an offensive tackle, standing at 6’8″ and tipping the scales at 359 pounds. If the Patriots view Brown as the future of protecting Tom Brady’s blindside, they’ll undoubtedly try to keep him, but can they?

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Last season, offensive linemen earned an average of $14 million on the franchise tag. That’s a big chunk of the Patriots cap space and considering the situation in New England, it may prove too much for the team to bear.

One guy who isn’t a free agent may also present problems for the Patriots in 2019. Rob Gronkowski made it clear that he was unhappy with his paycheck in 2018. Gronkowski went as far as talking retirement last summer when the Patriots refused to revisit his contract. This season, Gronkowski will need to be dealt with. Bill Belichick doesn’t like grumblings coming from his locker room and I believe his star tight end will be louder and more determined to get a new deal in 2019.

The Patriots also have free agents in their secondary they will have to address. Both Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe are looking to make some money off their play. McCourty is considered the Pats No. 2 corner while Rowe is their No. 3 at the position.

Along their defensive front, apart from Trey Flowers, the Pats also have Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton looking for a raise. Both are young with potential, but could certainly hit the market depending on how the Patriots deal with the cap situation.

Finally, Josh Gordon offers up a bit of a dilemma for the Pats decision makers as well. Gordon was traded for from the Browns for a fifth-round pick in 2018. While Gordon is a restricted free agent this year, the Pats would have to match any offer to be made by another team.

Although his recent suspension by the league may deter some suitors, there will be interest expressed in him. Are the Patriots ready to walk away or will they spend some of their precious cap money on the talented, but troubled receiver?

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Keep your eye on the Patriots this offseason. There will be talent slipping through their fingers, and the Jets should be prepared to pay up for some of it. If Trey Flowers and/or Trent Brown hits the market, Mike Maccagnan needs to be ready to spend. The Jets have the money to both improve their roster and deter the Patriots roster at the same time.

As a Jets fan, I can only see that as a win-win situation.