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Projected market value for Patriots’ top pending free agents

Big decisions loom on the horizon for the New England Patriots heading into free agency.

They’re sitting pretty right now with roughly over $100 million in available salary cap space, but they are also a team bogged down with various holes and upgrade needs on their roster.

Free agency isn’t just about paying big money to load up on outside talent. It’s also about keeping the talent you already have to ensure some continuity. Not everything was bad with the 4-13 Patriots, and this isn’t a situation where the organization is looking to throw the entire team away.

There were pieces that stood out as potential parts of an eventual solution in New England. and it now falls on Patriots executive Eliot Wolf and the front office to figure out ways to keep those pieces intact.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the Patriots’ top free agents and their projected market values, according to PFF.com and Spotrac.com.

When does free agency start?

Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The new league year begins on Wednesday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m. ET, which will officially kick-start the free agency madness. That’s the point when players can put pen to paper when signing new deals with teams.

But unrestricted free agent players will be able to negotiate a couple of days prior to that date in the legal tampering period, starting on Monday, March 11 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

S Kyle Dugger

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (Spotrac):  Four years, $66.2 million ($16.6 million annually)

Kyle Dugger stepped up in a big way as a leader in the Patriots’ defensive backfield last season. The team reportedly already has a contract offer on the table with his name on it. However, he could bypass the option to sign immediately and wait until free agency begins to better gauge the true market for his services.

OL Mike Onwenu

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Projected contract (Spotrac): Four years, $54.6 million ($13.6 million annually)

Mike Onwenu is the most important free agent on this entire list for the Patriots. They dealt with serious offensive line problems in 2023, and they won’t get any better by letting their best lineman walk out the door in free agency. Onwenu’s contract could be tricky considering he spent the season starting at right tackle, even though he’s actually a guard.

CB Myles Bryant

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (Spotrac): Three years, $25.1 million ($8.3 million annually)

Myles Bryant doesn’t get enough credit for the unique skill set he brings to the table. He can play cornerback, safety and contribute on special teams. But will that be enough to convince the Patriots to pony up the money required for an extension, when there are other capable young players on the roster?

EDGE Josh Uche

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (Spotrac): Two years, $16.7 million ($8.3 million annually)

Josh Uche remaining on the Patriots’ roster would almost feel like a luxury at this point. He’s a phenomenal playmaker on third-down situations, but overall, he might get more usage in a different defense than the one being run in New England.

TE Hunter Henry

Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Projected contract (PFF):  Two years, $12.25 million ($6.13 million annually)

Hunter Henry was a team captain in 2023 and the Patriots’ receiving touchdowns leader. Considering what he offers on and off the field to the team, it would make sense that New England makes re-signing the veteran tight end a priority in the offseason.

TE Pharaoh Brown

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (Spotrac):  One year, $2.7 million

Pharoah Brown’s ability to contribute to the Patriots’ moribund offense caught some by surprise in 2023. His contributions weren’t too far off from what the team got from Mike Gesicki. The only difference is Brown can make plays as both a receiver and blocker.

WR Kendrick Bourne

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (PFF):  Two years, $14 million ($7 million annually)

Before going down with a torn ACL, Kendrick Bourne led the Patriots in receiving yards. He was one of the few reliable offensive weapons the team had last season, and there’s hope that he can agree on a deal to return in 2024.

RB Ezekiel Elliott

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (Spotrac):  One year, $2.8 million

The Patriots would love to keep Ezekiel Elliott on the roster, but it would once again have to be a cold market for his services. That might not be the case in 2024, especially after he showed the capability of still being a lead running back in New England.

OL Trent Brown

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (PFF):  Two years, $15 million ($7.5 million annually)

Trent Brown is one of the best offensive tackles in the league when he’s healthy and focused. But he can go off the rails a bit if things aren’t going his way. The Patriots would probably love to keep him on their roster, but whether Brown would be as open to returning is another question entirely.

EDGE Anfernee Jennings

Billie Weiss/Getty Images
Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Projected contract (PFF):  Two years, $10.5 million ($5.25 annually)

Anfernee Jennings could be the reason the team isn’t rushing to re-sign Josh Uche to an extension. In many ways, the 2023 season was a breakout year for Jennings, who stepped up in a major way to fill the massive hole that losing Matthew Judon left for the Patriots defense.

TE Mike Gesicki

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Projected contract (PFF):  One year, $2 million

Mike Gesicki has a ton of talent as an offensive playmaker, but it was rarely shown in the Patriots’ struggling offense. If the team ends up keeping Hunter Henry and Pharaoh Brown, they might be better off drafting a young tight end instead of running it back a second year with Gesicki.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire