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2017 NFL free agency: Breaking down the New England Patriots cap space, potential free agents

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The San Francisco 49ers will have a ton of cap space. We’re going to take a look at the potential free agents for the 31 other teams around the NFL.

I will be doing a series of articles that will be taking a methodical team by team approach to next year’s possible free agents. I will be starting with the team that has the least amount of salary cap space and ending with the team with the most. I will try to give a brief description of as many of the possible free agents as I can. I will also be looking for players that might be salary cap cuts in order for their teams to make room to sign some of these possible free agents. Any information anyone else can contribute on these players would be very much appreciated.

The New England Patriots are projected to be $67,811,801 UNDER the cap (all salary info via Over The Cap) for 2017 with 39 players under contract. As of January 1, 2017, OTC has combined the leftover cap space from 2016 with each team’s projected cap space for 2017.

Dollar figures listed are player’s 2016 cap hits.

43DE Jabaal Sheard $6,812,500

Jabaal Sheard is 27 years old and was originally drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2011 draft. Sheard signed a two year contract with the Patriots in 2015. He had 33 tackles and 5 sacks in 2016. PFF had him rated as the 39th best edge defender in the NFL last season.

TE Martellus Bennett $5,185,000

Martellus Bennett is 29 years old and was originally drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2008 draft. In March of 2016, the Chicago Bears traded Bennett along with a sixth round draft pick to the Patriots for a fourth round draft pick. Bennett had 55 receptions for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016.

RT Sebastian Vollmer - $5,208,334

Sebastian Vollmer is 32 years old and was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 draft. Vollmer had shoulder surgery in August and missed the entire 2016 season. PFF has continually given Vollmer high grades throughout his career.

43OLB Barkevious Mingo $675,000

Barkevious Mingo is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the Browns in the first round of the 2013 draft. The Patriots signed Mingo in August of 2016 after the Browns decided not to pick up his fifth year option. Mingo had 11 tackles in 2016.

WR Michael Floyd - $1,291,765

Michael Floyd is 27 years old and was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2012 draft. Floyd had 37 receptions for 488 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2016. His best season was in 2013 when he had 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns.

43DE Chris Long - $2,375,000

Chris Long is 31 years old and was originally drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 2008 draft. Long was signed by the Patriots in March of 2016 after being released by the Rams. Chris Long had 35 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble in 2016.

43DT Alan Branch $2,750,000

Alan Branch is 32 years old and was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2011 draft. The Patriots signed Branch in 2014 after he was released by the Cardinals. Branch had 49 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2016.

43 OLB Donta Hightower - $7,751,000

Donta Hightower is 26 years old and was drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 2012 draft. The Patriots chose to pick up Hightower’s fifth year option in 2016, will they extend or franchise him? He had 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one forced fumble this season.

RB Brandon Bolden $1,272,500

Brandon Bolden is 26 years old and was picked up by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2012. Bolden had one carry for four yards in 2016.

RB LeGarrette Blount - $1,025,000

LaGarrette Blount is 30 years old and was originally picked up by the Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2010. The Patriots traded for Blount in 2013 and then signed him again in 2014 after he was released by the Steelers. Blount had 299 carries for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2016.

FB James Devlin - $750,000

James Devlin is 28 years old and was originally picked up by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2010. The Patriots signed him in 2012. Develin didn’t have any carries in 2016.

CB Logan Ryan - $1,811,813

Logan Ryan is 25 years old and was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 draft. Ryan had 92 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions in 2016. PFF has him graded as the 12th best cornerback in the NFL in 2016.

S Duron Harmon - $1,804,400

Duron Harmon is 25 years old and was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 draft. Harmon had 29 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception in 2016. PFF gives Harmon a grade of 78.5 which is quite a bit better than any safety currently on the 49ers.

TE Greg Scruggs - $555,882

Greg Scruggs is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. The Patriots picked him up in October of 2016 and placed him on injured reserve two weeks later. He was trying to convert from defensive end to tight end. I wonder if he might be a candidate for our new fullback position?