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The New England Patriots will have a bunch of good players hit NFL free agency when the market opens Wednesday, and one of their AFC East rivals is expected to make a run at signing some of them.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote Thursday that the Dolphins "plan to inquire about several" Patriots free agents. Jackson also wrote: "Among the names of interest to them: defensive tackle/end Adam Butler, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (who lives in South Florida) and center David Andrews."
This is a familiar tactic for the Dolphins. They have acquired several former Patriots players in recent years, including a few in free agency last year.
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The Patriots cannot afford to lose both Guy and Butler. Not only are those two players both productive, the Patriots don't exactly have a ton of defensive line depth.
Losing Andrews would be a huge blow to the offensive line -- one of the strongest positional groups on New England's roster. Andrews is an excellent center and played a key role in two Super Bowl-winning teams.
Andrews isn't the only starting offensive lineman for the Patriots eligible for unrestricted free agency next week. Former All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney also is a UFA. Andrews is expected to be cheaper to re-sign than Thuney, and the Patriots' backup options at center are worse than at left guard.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have an abundance of salary cap space to re-sign their own free agents and target other players. New England has around $63 million in cap room -- the third-most of any team -- according to OverTheCap.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a difficult salary cap environment for a lot of teams, and we've seen many quality players get released over the last week or so as franchises try to get under the cap. It's all setting the stage for what should be an exciting first few days of free agency when the new league year begins Wednesday.