The Patriots are gearing up for free agency, and the first step they need to take is clearing cap space. Not only will New England be tempted and most likely sign free agents from other teams, they’re also going to lock up some of their key defensive players that are facing free agency in the near future.
LaFell had an up-and-down career as a Patriot, literally. LaFell was very good in 2014, starting 13 out of 16 games and finishing the year with 119 targets, 74 catches, 953 yards, and seven touchdowns. He was a huge part of a championship offense and looked like THE steal in free agency. LaFell continued to be effective in the playoffs, making 13 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
2015 was a totally different story for the tall wideout out of LSU. LaFell opened the season on the PUP list, which isn’t a big deal, but when he returned, he was awful. He started seven of 11 games and finished with 74 targets, 37 catches, 515 yards, and zero touchdowns. The lack of production wasn’t the main issue; the problem with LaFell is his drops.
LaFell clearly has focus issues and if you can’t hold onto the ball as a Patriot, you won’t be a Patriot for long. Yesterday’s release was one of the least surprising moves of the offseason so far. LaFell was entering the third year of a three-year contract signed in 2014, so the Patriots save just over two million dollars from his release.
Scott Chandler, the former Buffalo Bill who signed with New England last offseason, just didn’t live up to expectations and it was simply time for the Patriots to move on. Chandler started four games and appeared in 15; he finished with 42 targets, 23 receptions, 259 yards, and four touchdowns. He was a decent red zone threat but again, he just wasn’t the threat they expected him to be and it made sense to cut him and save the cap dollars.
Chandler signed a two-year, $5.3 million dollar deal with the Patriots last offseason. He’ll most likely have to take a minimal contract to earn a spot on another roster.
Yesterday’s moves combined with the Brady contract extension should give New England plenty of room to work with to tinker and improve their roster.
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