Patriots Notes: Hightower, Collins, Edelman

Recently, Bill Barnwell of ran down the NFL’s “best defensive triplets” and ranked the Patriots No. 10 with a trio of safety Devin McCourty, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and linebacker Jamie Collins. One knock on this talented group, however, is the injury factor as all three missed time last season.

It should also be noted that the Patriots will have to take action in order to keep this group together beyond the 2016 season as both Collins and Hightower are entering their contract years. Last year, Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in the league while Hightower came in at No. 10, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. This year, Collins will earn less than $1MM on the final year of his rookie deal while Hightower will make $7.751MM, per the terms of his fifth-year option. It will take years and security to keep both players and Collins in particular is due for a monster raise.

Here’s more on the Pats:

  • Even though Julian Edelman could be forced to miss the start of the Patriots’ season following his second foot surgery, Phil Perry of doesn’t expect the team to place him on the PUP list, which is not good news for receivers frying to make the cut. Right now, Perry projects that the Patriots will go into 2016 with Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Keshawn Martin, and Matthew Slater on the 53-man WR depth chart. As shown on Roster Resource, Nate Washington and Aaron Dobson are also in the mix and Perry’s roster projection has them on the outside looking in. Ditto for seventh-round pick Devin Lucien, though he could potentially be snuck onto the practice squad.
  • Should the Patriots make a play for Chiefs running back Knile Davis? Ben Volin of The Boston Globe isn’t sure if the Pats are willing to trade within the AFC, but he sees Davis as someone who could potentially replace LeGarrette Blount as the team’s heavy back. Davis is expendable in KC as the team has recently inked Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware, and Charcandrick West to contract extensions. Meanwhile, Davis holds a bit of extra value since he is in a contract year and could factor into the compensatory pick equation.
  • Recently, Mike Reiss of also raised the name of Titans tailback Bishop Sankey as a potential trade target for New England. Sankey, a second-round pick in 2014, has yet to impress in Tennessee but he did enter the league with a decent amount of hype and it’s possible that a change of scenery could suit him well.
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