Patriots set to choose between Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins in free agency

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Don't expect a full Boogeymen reunion in New England in 2020.

As the Patriots gear up for a crucial free agency period, one of the more difficult choices they'll have to make is what to do with linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins. It's easy to turn this into an 'either or', and based on Thursday's reports, they may be leaning towards Collins.

Free agent chatter league-wide is slow with the CBA negotiations still pending, but early information on what the Patriots have been up to seems to indicate more of a push to bring Collins back.

Nov 3, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) reacts during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple reporters confirmed Thursday morning some level of contact between Collins and the Patriots. Meanwhile, contact between the Patriots and Van Noy's representatives has been described as 'minimal.'

Both players are expected to receive interest from teams around the league. Spotrac has Jamie Collins projected market value at just under $9 million a year, while some have speculated Van Noy could approach $15 million annual salary.

Nov 17, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) carries the ball after a catch as New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (58) and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (71) attempt to the make the tackle in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, Van Noy started 15 games for the Patriots (missing Week 1 due to the birth of his child) recording 56 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Meanwhile Collins played in 16 games posting 81 stops with seven sacks and three interceptions. However, both faded down the stretch, something Bill is known to heavily factor in when compiling end of season player reports, which in turn factor into contract decisions.

Van Noy (80.75 percent) and Collins (80.65 percent) were two of only four Patriots defensive players to play over 80 percent of the total snaps last season. One of the others, Devin McCourty, is also set to become a free agent. The team could also potentially lose another linebacker in Elandon Roberts, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this spring as well.

With potential offensive overhaul on the horizon, keeping the core of last year's defense together will be key for the Patriots. Having to replace just one of Van Noy or Collins will be a challenge. Having to replace both? That could be a nightmare.

Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].