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ESPN: Patriots have 3 of top 25 free agents in NFL

Ryan Hannable
February 14, 2018 - 10:58 am

ESPN released its top 50 free agents this offseason, and the Patriots have three players in the top half.

Offensive tackle Nate Solder comes in at No. 11, running back Dion Lewis at No. 24 and cornerback Malcolm Butler at No. 25.

There appears to be little chance Butler returns to New England after being benched in Super Bowl LII, and also his value likely went down across the league. As we detailed Tuesday, Butler will not get as much money as he thought going into the 2017 season.

Lewis doesn't seem likely to return, either. The shifty running back was able to play in all 16 games this past season, which likely raised his stock. New England would probably like to have him back, but on its terms. Once he hits the open market it would seem Lewis will receive heavy interest and get offered more money than the Patriots would be willing to match.

Solder is an interesting case, as the 29-year-old could potentially retire and not play football at all next season. He's likely saved his money over the years and of course everyone knows his family situation with his son Hudson battling cancer. It would seem if he does play next season, it would be with the Patriots, as it is hard to imagine him playing for another team.

Of these three, it seems Solder has the only chance of returning to the Patriots.

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