BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots don’t have any big names hitting free agency, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be handing out a big-money contract this offseason.

New England has four key players on their defense set to hit free agency after next season in defensive end Chandler Jones, linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins and corner Malcolm Butler (who will be a restricted free agent). The Patriots could get ahead of the game and sign one of them to an extension this offseason, but who should be their priority?

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Zolak & Bertrand discussed this on Wednesday’s show, and have differing opinions.

Zolak said it doesn’t matter that Butler will be a restricted free agent, and the Patriots should make it a priority to sign their No. 1 corner.

“I go to Malcolm Butler right now, because you have a year under the belt and he comes to play every single down. The most important one out of all of them is Hightower… but I think you’ve now learned that Butler is your No. 1 corner, without a doubt. He has a chance to be pretty damn good,” said Zolak.

Zo said Butler reminds him of a former New England great who roamed the defensive backfield for a trio of Super Bowl teams.

“He has reminded me of a young Ty Law. I remember being with Ty his first three, four years in the league and how he developed and his attitude and swagger. It didn’t matter what the score was or if someone was kicking your ass, that kid still came to play. Butler is that guy,” said Zolak, adding that he thinks Butler would take a team-friendly deal.

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While Bertrand sees the importance of Butler he thinks the Patriots should focus on getting a long-term deal done with Dont’a Hightower, who had 61 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in 12 games in 2015.

“I don’t think I fully realized [his importance] until this season,” said Beetle. “He has clearly proven how good he’s gotten and how much he’s improved since they drafted him.”



Zo & Beetle also touched on this season’s crop of free agents, and who the Patriots should re-sign and let walk:

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