BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots shored up what could be three of their thinnest positional groups during the NFL’s legal tampering period on Tuesday. The team tendered offers to pending restricted free agent tackle Cameron Fleming and also tendered two exclusive rights free agents, cornerback Justin Coleman and tight end Matt Lengel.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss tweeted on Tuesday that the Patriots informed Fleming of their original-round tender, which is worth $1.797 million. Any team that would sign Fleming to an offer sheet would now need to send the Patriots a fourth-round pick as compensation.
In addition, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe tweeted that the Patriots tendered Coleman, while the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported that the team tendered Lengel – meaning that the exclusive rights free agents will be back in Patriots uniforms for the 2017 season.
These signings may look insignificant on the surface, but all three players could find themselves higher on the depth chart than expected in 2017. Fleming is the team’s third tackle and could be one injury away from starting. With Martellus Bennett likely to depart via unrestricted free agency, Lengel could be the top backup to Rob Gronkowski.
As for the cornerback position, the Patriots are likely to lose pending unrestricted free agent Logan Ryan. They could even be in danger of losing pending RFA Malcolm Butler if a team is willing to sign him to an offer sheet and give up what would likely be a first-round pick to acquire him. With Eric Rowe as the only other cornerback on the roster, Coleman could be in line for an increased role in what has potential to be a rebuilding Patriots secondary.
It has yet to be reported what the Patriots are doing with Butler, but it’s likely that they offer the cornerback a first-round tender worth $3.91 million.