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New England Patriots

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s legal tampering period saw the Patriots ratio of gains to losses fall heavily in their favor. However, a key player both on and off the field out be heading elsewhere in the coming days.

After two days of speculation that included a heavy push from the Miami Dolphins, center David Andrews will officially become a free agent when the NFL’s new league year begins on Wednesday, as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Andrews has previously expressed a desire to stay in New England, and some have speculated this could be a case where the Patriots allow their player to explore the market and return with his best competing deal, with the team can then match. It’s an approach Bill Belichick has used in the past with players such as Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower. Andrews, a four-time captain who has started 69 games for the team since signing as a UDFA in 2015, seems like the kind of player they’d afford that chance.

Whatever deal Andrews lands, expect it to be near the top of the market. On Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers signed center Corey Linsley to a five-year, $62.5 million contract. It has been speculated any potential deal for Andrews would be slightly lower, but in that ballpark.

If the Patriots do lose out on Andrews, they’ll have a number of options to replace him. The free agency class is highlighted by Andrews’ former backup Ted Karras, as well three-time Pro Bowler Rodney Hudson, who was cut by the Raiders on Tuesday. This upcoming draft class is strong at the center position as well.

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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? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.