Two Patriots among ESPN’s top 50 impending NFL free agents

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While the season is still going strong for four teams, most NFL franchises are now entrenched in the offseason process.

That means turning the page toward 2022 team-building efforts.

A big part of that process, as Patriots fans learned well last March, is free agency.

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With that in mind ESPN came up with its list of the top 50 NFL players who could hit the open market this March.

The list, which is led by Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, includes two New England players, although the top Patriots player may come as a bit of a surprise.

According to ESPN the top impending free agent for the Patriots is tackle Trent Brown, who ranks No. 18 overall.

ESPN writes that “Brown hit a huge payday during his 2019 entry into free agency, signing a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders, but he made it only two years before being traded back to the Patriots. He managed to play nine games this season, and prospective suitors will have to assess why he has changed teams three times in seven years, but a veteran tackle of most any background is going to be sought after on the open market.”

Next on the list, at No. 19 overall, is second-team All-Pro Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson. Jackson is also the second cornerback on the list, trailing Tampa Bay’s Carlton Davis, who was slotted at No. 11 overall. It’s worth noting that the third cornerback free-agent-to-be according to ESPN is former Patriot Stephon Gilmore, the former Defensive Player of the Year slotting in at No. 21 overall after being traded from New England to Carolina this past fall.

Of Jackson ESPN writes, “Jackson made himself some money in 2021 while playing under his restricted free-agent tender, following up a nine-interception season with eight more picks. No NFL player has more interceptions than Jackson since he entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2018 (25). Interceptions aren't always the most reliable metric for cornerback play, but at the very least, Jackson has demonstrated a consistent ability to be around the ball and make plays when he gets the chance.”

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