The NFL’s legal tampering period started Monday, opening the door for agents of unrestricted free agents to contact other teams. Agents can sketch out the details but the deals cannot be finalized until free agency officially gets underway at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Teams across the league are using the in-between period to pursue the Patriots’ unrestricted free agents. Nate Solder and Dion Lewis have both reportedly seen interest from other teams.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest free agency reports:
Houston has another hole to fill at left tackle. The Texans started five players at the position in 2017 and the two-time Super Bowl champion would be a potential upgrade over any combination of Kendall Lamm, Julien Davenport, Chris Clark, Jeff Allen, and Breno Giacomini.
The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson wrote, “The Texans are making a serious run at New England Patriots free agent left tackle Nate Solder, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.”
The Texans will need to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson as the 2017 first-round pick returns from an ACL tear, but they have competition in luring Solder, who is 6-foot-8, 325 pound and responsible for Tom Brady’s blindside. Giardi tweeted that interest in the Patriots left tackle has been ‘off the charts.’ Denver is also in the mix for Solder, but Giardi noted that with New England and Houston in pursuit the price tag is likely too high.
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported that Joe Thomas still hasn’t informed the Browns of his plans for the 2018 season and the delay has the organization searching for a replacement. The team is considering Nate Solder if the All-Pro does not return to the Browns.
The Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin added that the Browns are “making a big run” at Solder to replace Thomas. He noted the Patriots will have stiff competition in signing Solder because Cleveland has “a ton of money to play with.” Even after adding three players in a series of trades this week, the Browns have $82 million in cap space.
Per Giardi, the Patriots plan to wait until Solder fields offers from other teams. They believe he will come back to see if New England will match, or come close to, those offers.
Lewis rushed for six touchdowns and 896 yards in 2017, and added another 32 catches out of the backfield for three touchdowns and 214 yards. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tied Lewis to the 49ers, Jets, Titans, and Colts, while noting that the 27-year-old’s price-point may far exceed what the Patriots are used to spending at the position. On Monday, Giardi confirmed that Indianapolis is in the market for Lewis.
Colts in on Dion Lewis.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 12, 2018
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that Lewis has “varying levels of interest” from the Patriots and seven other teams: the Dolphins, Jets, Giants, Titans, Texans, Colts, and 49ers. Lewis and Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon are regarded as the top running backs on the market, according to Florio, and could receive interest from the same teams.
Mark Daniels, of the Providence Journal, cautioned not to rule out a return to Foxborough for the free agent.