The average age of the Patriots’ current roster is 25 years old. (NFL Game Rewind)
It’s hard to say when it started, but it’s clearer now. A youth movement is underway inside Gillette Stadium.
This March saw the 33-year-old Vince Wilfork, the 30-year-old Brandon Browner and the 29-year-old Darrelle Revis leave the defensive side of the ball. And it saw the 32-year-old Dan Connolly remain unsigned along the offensive side, after the team’s third-longest tenured player, the 33-year-old Logan Mankins, was traded last August.
Yet it isn’t so much about whom will replace them. It’s how.
There have been 13 free-agent additions in preparation the 2015 NFL season. Only one, a reserve-future signing and ex-Tennessee Titans defensive lineman named Antonio Johnson, has already hit his third decade. There have been eight free agents retained. And only two, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and defensive tackle Alan Branch, have reached that same point.
In result, the average age of a New England Patriots player – at the moment – is 25 years old.
Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon were taken consecutively in 2013. (NFL Game Rewind)
There may no longer be one dominant pipeline for Bill Belichick. But there are still several college streams running down into the Foxborough ravine.
The New England Patriots have collected players from an assortment of schools over the years, whether it be first-year pros or 10-year veterans, whether it be via free agency, trade, or the draft. And admittedly, the strength of some connections in the collection aren’t as strong as they once were.
Some of Belichick’s ties have dispersed in different directions, with the likes of Greg Schiano, Urban Meyer and Randy Edsall no longer at the forefront of the programs the Patriots head coach once picked from. Yet other waters have appeared over the years.
And with the Patriots’ pool currently standing 75 deep, here is a look through the most prominent products featured in its depths.
Stevie Johnson visited the Patriots to start free agency’s second week. (NFL Game Rewind)
The first wave of NFL free agency crashed down on the New England Patriots, seeing the likes of Shane Vereen, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner head into shore with the New York Giants, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, respectively.
But now, a week out, it’s time to revisit where head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the Patriots stand.
It’s time to see what’s been retained, added and subtracted from the roster. And also, what’s remaining heading into the second week.
Alan Branch is set to return to the Patriots’ defensive line. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots have re-signed defensive lineman Alan Branch, his agent, Blake Baratz, announced Saturday night.
The 30-year-old’s new deal spans the next two seasons and is worth up to $6.6 million, according to Pro Football Talk.
Branch originally joined the Patriots as a free agent in October, when he was able to provide depth alongside Vince Wilfork to record 13 tackles and one pass deflection over the final eight games of the regular season.
Shane Vereen will become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday. (NFL Game Rewind)
The gates opened at noon on Saturday.
It was then that the legal tampering period began for NFL teams, three days before unrestricted free agents can begin visiting organizations and signing contracts at 4 p.m. on March 10.
For the New England Patriots, it means contact with unrestricted free agents other than their own can begin. But it also means the likes of free safety Devin McCourty, running back Shane Vereen and their representatives can begin fielding phone calls from other interested teams.
Safety Devin McCourty is set to become an unrestricted free agent. (NFL Game Rewind)
On the heels of Wednesday’s Super Bowl victory rally, the New England Patriots are rolling onward. And there are several dates on the horizon for both the organization and its players to roll into.
By Feb. 16, NFL teams will be able to apply franchise and transitions tags on players set to hit free agency. By March 10, after a three-day negotiation period, teams will be facing a final deadline for exercising 2015 options and offers for exclusive-rights free agents. And by 4 p.m. that same day, the 2015 league year will turn over a new leaf into unrestricted free agency.
What head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio will elect to do between now and then remains to be seen. But what has been seen is New England’s list of upcoming free agents.
Vince Wilfork and the Patriots grounded the Dolphins on Sunday. (NFL Game Rewind)
The cinderblocks were cemented back into place on Sunday, three months after Miami Dolphins running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller broke through them for 193 rushing yards and a touchdown on 35 carries.
The wall the New England Patriots constructed in Week 15 looked fundamentally different than the one from Week 1. And unlike the three-man line assembled at Sun Life Stadium in September, the hybrid front was built with players who were built for it in December.
Enter the 6-foot-2, 325-pound Vince Wilfork, the 6-foot-2, 325-pound Sealver Siliga and the 6-foot-6, 335-pound Alan Branch.