FOXBORO – Bill Belichick says when a season ends, it’s sudden. It’s like a treadmill shutting down while you’re still running on it.
When it stops – after the jolt – the process of figuring out what’s next begins.
For anyone with an expiring contract – coach, player, scout – the question of where you’ll be working next and for how much comes at you fast after that last game.
Kyle Van Noy is one of the Patriots with an expiring contract. After six seasons in the league, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in early March. He’s hitting it at the perfect time – 28 years old and coming off his best season after playing in three straight Super Bowls (this year pending).
He will be sought after.
I asked him on Monday during our weekly Quick Slants interview whether staying with the Patriots was a priority.
New England Patriots
“Of course,” he said. “Everything’s on the table. I’m looking obviously to get paid a lot. I’ll just leave it at that. I’m blessed in so many ways and I’m excited to play for the Patriots and excited to play with my teammates.”
The Patriots acquired Van Noy in 2016 when he was still on his rookie deal. When that expired in 2017, they signed him to a two-year, $11.7M deal. He played in 31 of the Patriots 32 regular-season games the past two years and was a big contributor in the pass rush this year (6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles) after a 92 tackle season in 2018.
A reasonable comp for a player with Van Noy’s durability, age and production? Probably Houston’s Whitney Mercilus who signed a four-year deal worth $53.5M last offseason when he was 28.
In the past, the Patriots have allowed players to hit the market to see what offers exist with the hope the player and his agent will come back to the team and give them a chance to work something out. That happened with both Devin McCourty and Donta Hightower.
The Patriots have a fleet of expiring deals – Van Noy, McCourty, Tom Brady, Matthew Slanter, Joe Thuney and Jamie Collins being the most prominent.
There will be a lot of business to attend to in March, there’s more pressing business to attend to this week against the Tennessee Titans, which Van Noy also addressed during the interview.
“I know people are accustomed to (playoff appearances) but we’re not taking it for granted,” he said. “We know we have an opportunity to get back right and what better way than to do it in front of our fans this weekend?”
Asked if there will be any aftereffects from having lost to the Dolphins on Sunday, Van Noy said, “We can take it two ways. Take it and sulk on it. Or let the mental toughness and competitive nature of the guys in that locker room (take over). (Players) who have played in the playoffs know that it doesn’t matter. The hottest teams don’t matter, the coldest teams don’t matter because if you’re in, you have a chance. Everyone starts at 0-0 and we’re looking forward to that challenge. If we sulk on the loss, we already lost. … we have a chance to get things right Saturday night in front of our fans.”
The full interview will air during Tuesday’s episode of Quick Slants at 8:30 p.m. on NBCSports Boston.