New England Patriots: 3 Key Players Who Will Be NFL Free Agents In 2024

The NFL off-season got started early for many teams around the league a couple of weeks ago, but the New England Patriots had their eyes on the future long before that. They had one of the worst records in the league this past year, leading to the firing of possibly the greatest head coach to ever live, and the franchise will enter a new era as the departure of Bill Belichick officially marks the end of their dynasty.

NFL: Mayo Will Have Work To Do Rebuilding The Patriots

“I do see color, because I believe if you don’t see color you can’t see racism.”

Jerod Mayo on being named the first black head coach in Patriots history.

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 17, 2024

But owner Robert Kraft got to work quickly. The coaching vacancy in New England lasted just a matter of hours before Jerod Mayo was promoted from within to be the team’s next leader after 24 years with Belichick at the helm.

The team has still yet to hire a general manager (Belichick served as that, too), but whoever is selected will have some work to do along with Mayo in order to rebuild the roster and re-stock it with talent. There is of course a massive question at quarterback, but there are other positions that need addressing as well.

3 Key Free Agents From Patriots’ 2023 Roster

Here are three key players from New England’s 2023 roster who are set to become NFL free agents this coming spring:

Hunter Henry – TE

Henry got a big contract from the Patriots back in 2021, which was a three-year deal that carried a value of $37.5 million. He never truly lived up to the big money, but he has been a solid contributor while dealing with the carousel of quarterbacks that have been throwing him the ball.

Henry played in 14 games this past season, totaling 42 catches for 419 yards, giving him the lowest yards per catch average of his career. He will be joined on the free agent market by other tight ends such as Dalton Schultz and Noah Fant, as well as his teammate from last year in Mike Gesicki.

#Patriots HC Jerod Mayo asked about his plan to improve the offense: “(It starts with) the energy, the passion, the leaders on the offensive side of the ball.”

— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 17, 2024

Kyle Dugger – CB

Most of the big name free agents for New England are on the offensive side of the ball, but Kyle Dugger joins the mix from the defense. The former second round pick has reached the end of his rookie contract and will be looking for a new deal, and could be one of the guys that Mayo chooses to keep around.

Dugger finished third on the team in total tackles with 108, and had a pair of interceptions to go with 7 defended passes. He also forced a fumble and notched 1.5 sacks.

Matthew Slater – WR/Special Teams

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are gone, which most believe is the end of the dynasty. But the mass exodus wouldn’t be complete without Matthew Slater. Easily New England’s longest tenured player, Slater is a 3-time Super Bowl champion, and has been with the team since being drafted way back in 2008.

He has been used throughout his career primarily as a special teams gunner and specialist, and has made 10 Pro Bowls to go along with 5 All-Pro selections for his work with the Patriots. It is doubtful that he will attempt to continue his career elsewhere.


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