New England Patriots

Bills inside linebacker Preston Brown is set to become a free agent. The Patriots have a need at inside linebacker, as well as intimate familiarity with Brown. So perhaps there’s a match there.

Brown spoke candidly about the Patriots and his impending free agency with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald on Wednesday at the NFL’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He’s seen several ex-Bills teammates go to New England, mostly with success. And he sounds interested in joining in on that.

“It’s a little weird,” Brown said.“I’m not going to sit here and lie like, ‘Oh well.’ You’re happy for them, but you’re also like, ‘All right, every time somebody goes to the Patriots, they’re going to the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl.’ It’s something you feel.

“It’s definitely something you look at like wow, those guys are having success. But the Patriots, they definitely seem to get the best out of the Buffalo Bills.”

Filling Needs

Preston Brown and Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills tackle Rob Gronkowski against the New England Patriots on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Preston Brown and Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills tackle Rob Gronkowski against the New England Patriots on December 3, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The Pats have a clear need to upgrade their inside linebacking corps, even if only for insurance behind Dont’a Hightower. Brown would represent a younger, more athletic version of last year’s David Harris signing – but he would also be more expensive.

Howe added that the Patriots are believed to be among the teams interested in Brown. But he sets Brown’s value at potentially $8 million annually, which would likely take Bill Belichick and the Pats off the table. If his AAV dips to around $5 million, then maybe New England will be in on him.

From Buffalo To Foxboro

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JANUARY 21: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots deflects a pass intended for Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fouorth quarter during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Stephon Gilmore and Chris Hogan are among the former Bills who have found success with the Patriots. Running back Mike Gillislee less so. But Brown fills a need and is just the kind of player that Belichick would know how to use properly.

Brown tied for the NFL lead with 144 tackles in 2017. Belichick certainly loves his combination of versatility and durability. Brown hasn’t missed a game in four NFL seasons and could help the defense in both running and passing situations, and as both in the pass rush and in coverage.

Keep Brown on your radar as the NFL free agency period approaches for the Patriots. There are a lot of needs to fill this offseason, but linebacker is arguably the most glaring one.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.