BOSTON (CBS) —  Re-signing Nate Solder appears to be a priority for the Patriots this offseason, but they’re going to have a lot of competition for the left tackle on the open market.

Solder is the best left tackle available this offseason and teams are reportedly lining up to make their pitches with the NFL’s legal tampering period underway. Mike Giardi of NBC Sports Boston is reporting that the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos (along with the Patriots) are “at the head of the class” on the Solder market.

The Texans make sense, as they had a revolving door at left tackle last season. It would also make one of their biggest AFC opponents weaker if they could steal away the man responsible for protecting Tom Brady’s blindside.

But Solder isn’t the only New England free agent the Texans are interested in adding. Giardi is also reporting that Houston has reached out to cornerback Malcolm Butler, whose days in New England are almost certainly done following his Super Bowl LII benching.

Free agents can officially sign with new teams when the new league years begins at 4pm on Wednesday. Things should be pretty interesting for the Patriots over the next few days, with Solder, Butler, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis among their players hitting the open market.

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