Which Patriots free agents will stay with the team?

Nate Solder speaking to media in the Patriots locker room in September.
Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder –Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe

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Which Patriot free agent is most likely to return? Will any of them?  This is getting frustrating. – Jim A.

Johnson Bademosi, maybe? He could be back! Exciting, no?

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I actually got this question earlier Tuesday, a while after news broke that Danny Amendola was signing with the Dolphins. I was answering when the report broke that Malcolm Butler had signed with the Tennessee Titans.

So, no, not a great day for retaining players who were crucial in winning a couple of Lombardi Trophies. Butler obviously wasn’t coming back after the Super Bowl debacle. But Amendola, who seemed to grow more reliable for a lesser salary every year, was expected to stay. Tom Brady can’t be thrilled with that one.

Who stays? It had better be Nate Solder. All three of the Patriots’ primary offensive tackles are free agents, but Solder, who has protected Brady’s blindside since the 2012 season, is essential. He’s going to make in the $12-15 million range, given the interest that cap-rich teams like the Broncos and Browns reportedly have in him.

I’m not sure why it even got to the point where he was allowed to hit free agency, but the Patriots had better be serious about matching the best offer he gets. Breaking in a new left tackle is not something a 41-year-old quarterback should have to do.

So Solder is the free agent they must keep. And for now, I think they will. I imagine Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner will also stick around. And, uh, Bademosi. Do you guys agree? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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