The New England Patriots are making an effort to keep Kyle Dugger in town ahead of free agency.

The veteran safety has received a contract offer from the team a couple of weeks ahead of free agency, MassLive’s Karen Guregian and Mark Daniels reported Thursday. The details of the offer is unknown, but Dugger is expected to have multiple options in free agency.

Dugger is one of the Patriots’ premier free agents this offseason, making him a possible candidate to receive the franchise tag. If Dugger were to receive the tag, he’d get a chance to sign a fully guaranteed $17.123 million tender. So,  it’s not unreasonable to think the 27-year-old might ask for a salary not too far from that as he’s likely in line for the best payday of his career.

The Patriots have another franchise tag candidate, though. Michael Onwenu is set to become a free agent and will likely be one of the few best offensive tackles to hit the open market. New England also has a much bigger need for an offensive tackle than a safety, making it possible Onwenu receives the franchise tag instead despite the $20.985 million fully guaranteed tenure.

What Jerod Mayo, Eliot Wolf have said about Patriots keeping Dugger

New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) makes his way to the practice fields for training camp at Gillette Stadium.
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Patriots new head coach and chief roster decision maker have stated a desire to keep Dugger in New England in recent days. Mayo said “I love those guys” when talking about the safety and Onwenu as he praised Dugger’s growing leadership.

“With Dugger, I would say last year going into the season, there were some questions about can he communicate and all those things. He squashed all of that last year,” Mayo said. “He did a fantastic job in his new role without having Devin (McCourty) there.

“You definitely want those pieces to stay,” Mayo continued. “You develop through the draft, so if those guys stay, obviously, they’ve been raised here and they can help push the culture forward.”

Wolf dished our similar thoughts.

“We definitely want to keep Mike and Kyle and we’re hopeful to continue to work with Kyle’s agent and Mike to make that happen,” Wolf said.

The Patriots have less than two weeks to make a deal with both players if they want to prevent them from reaching free agency, which officially opens on March 13. However, the legal tampering period begins two days earlier.