David Andrews reportedly is one step closer to leaving the Patriots as a free agent.
Or maybe he’s just teasing them.
NFL Network reported Tuesday night that after a day of negotiating with the Pats, the veteran center was headed to unrestricted free agency when it opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Andrews, 28, just finished up playing for the Pats on a three-year contract worth an average annual value of $3 million, according to Spotrac. (Andrews missed all of the 2019 season because of blood clots in his lungs).
Having committed more than $200 million since the free agent negotiating period began Monday, the Patriots might not be able to meet Andrews’ number. Spotrac estimates the two-time Super Bowl champion at $7 million annually, predicting that he should get a three-year deal.
The Miami Dolphins has shown interest in luring him out of Foxboro, and it would make sense for the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Las Vegas Raiders to reach out to Andrews as well after losing Corey Linsley, Alex Mack and Rodney Hudson, respectively.
Whatever the Pats’ thinking, several reporters have pointed out that Andrews’ foray into free agency feels similar to the experiences of a couple other Pats stalwarts who tested the market and then returned to the fold.
In 2017, linebacker Dont’a Hightower got to free agency after failing to agree to terms with the Pats. After reportedly garnering interest from the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, Hightower wound up re-signing with the Pats for four years and $43.5 million.
Devin McCourty traveled a similar path in 2015. The safety reportedly was courted by the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans before he returned to Foxboro for a five-year, $47.5 million contract.
McCourty and Hightower have been lifetime Pats, and now there’s at least a chance Andrews could remain one also even after he sees what other teams have to offer.