This week, the Patriots saw four significant players sign with other teams in free agency. Of those, the consensus seems to be that left tackle Nate Solder will be the most difficult to replace on the roster this season.
With that in mind, the Patriots Football Weekly writers are debating which player is the next-biggest loss. Read their arguments, then cast your vote in our weekly poll.
PFW'S Andy Hart says...
CORNERBACK MALCOLM BUTLER
Forget the Super Bowl hero story. Forget the Super Bowl benching debacle. This is all about talent and value. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions in football to fill.
Regardless of what you thought of Butler's 2017 season, he's proven himself as above average and capable of playing at Pro Bowl/All-Pro levels. He matched up with opposing No. 1 receivers at times. He was able to run around with some pretty quick, shifty weapons. He brought a competitive fire and feistiness that is unquestioned.
Guys with those abilities and track records don't grow on trees. Losing a talent like Butler in the prime of his career is less than ideal. He's not irreplaceable, but there is a very good chance he'll be very much missed.
PFW'S Erik Scalavino SAYS....
WIDE RECEIVER DANNY AMENDOLA
On paper, Amendola is just the fourth-best receiving option the Patriots have behind tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks. However, the past couple of postseasons, Amendola has been at his best and most reliable, and throughout last season, he picked up the considerable slack when Edelman was lost for the year.
Gaining Tom Brady's trust as a receiver is not an easy job, and Amendola has worked at that for many years. Developing the kind of "no-words-necessary" relationship they enjoyed on the field takes time, and plenty of more talented pass catchers have come through Foxborough and failed to latch on the way Amendola did.
When the chips are down and Gronk and/or Edelman are out, who will Brady throw to now? It won't be Danny Playoff anymore, and he'll be a difficult guy to replace.
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Your turn! Let us know what you think by casting your vote in this week's poll.