Patriots Free Agency Update

The Patriots continue to sign players, some of their own, some free agents. Here's the latest.

TEAM NEEDS

   1. Defensive end/outside linebacker: New England needs to add youthful impact players on the edge. Mark Anderson and Pro Bowler Andre Carter tied for the team lead with 10 sacks last year, but Anderson signed with Buffalo and Carter is coming back from a torn quad. Even if Carter returns, a developmental playmaker is a necessity on the edge.

   2. Wide receiver: Despite adding Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez in free agency, New England could still target a young, speedy outside receiver to develop as a big-play threat.

   3. Defensive back: Devin McCourty clouds New England's needs in the secondary a bit. A Pro Bowl corner as a rookie in 2010, McCourty struggled mightily last year and was actually moved to safety late in the year. If he stays at safety, the Patriots could be in the market for a top-end cornerback prospect. Either way the team needs to add talent to a safety position that was a major hole throughout 2011.

MEDICAL WATCH
   --OG Logan Mankins reportedly underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL shortly after the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl guard is expected to undergo six months of rehab and may not be ready for the start of training camp.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: WR Wes Welker (tendered at $9.515 million).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
   --DE Andre Carter suffered a season-ending injury toward the end of the year, but had a breakthrough season prior to that, which should earn him a sizeable pay day this offseason. The two sides have already discussed an extension.
   --DE Shaun Ellis did not fit in defensively throughout most of the year, and his playing time suffered because of it. Highly unlikely he re-signs with New England.
   --RB Kevin Faulk had a hard time handling the workload this year after returning from the physically unable to perform list and was ultimately phased out of the offense to the point where he was inactive for the Super Bowl. He's expected to retire, but no announcement has been made yet.
   --LB Gary Guyton watched his role reduce dramatically this season and likely won't return next season.
   --S James Ihedigbo filled in nicely with all the injuries the Patriots suffered in the secondary, but he has limited ability and won't be back unless it's for cheap money.
   --CB Nate Jones was a late-season fill-in for Phillip Adams and probably won't be back unless no one else signs him this winter and he's invited to camp in the summertime.
   --C Dan Koppen missed most of 2011, though he hopes to re-sign with the team. This is a dicey proposition. The Patriots got by without him last year and might decide to go with a younger, cheaper and healthier alternative for the long haul.
   --CB Antwaun Molden dealt with some injuries toward the end of the year, but should be in the mix next season given the team's lack of a true shutdown corner. Like most free agents, he'll be back at the right price.
   --DL Gerard Warren wasn't as productive this year, but he provides a veteran presence. If he doesn't retire, he could return for cheap money.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
   --S Brett Lockett (not tendered as RFA) is a physical specimen, but he can't stay healthy. He'll probably be at camp this summer, but it's a long shot he makes the final cut unless he's 100-percent healthy.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
   --QB Brian Hoyer (tendered at $1.927M with second-round pick as compensation) has been Tom Brady's backup for the past three years, so it's likely he'll stay in New England.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
   --DL Kyle Love should be back next year since he is an exclusive rights free agent, and it would only cost $540,000 to keep him at the minimum salary for third-year players.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
   --WR Deion Branch: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
   --OG Dan Connolly: UFA; $9.75M/3 yrs, $3.25M SB.
   --LB Niko Koutouvides: Potential UFA; $825,000 1 yr.
   --WR Matt Slater: UFA; $5.4M/3 yrs, $2M SB.
   --LB Tracy White: UFA; $990,000/1 yr, $300,000 guaranteed.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
   --CB Will Allen: UFA Dolphins; $1.025M/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
   --CB Marquice Cole: Not tendered as RFA by Jets; $640,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
   --DE Jonathan Fanene: UFA Bengals; $12M/3 yrs, $3.85M guaranteed.
   --TE Daniel Fells: UFA Broncos; $5.25M/3 yrs, $2M guaranteed.
   --OG Robert Gallery: FA Seahawks; 1 yr, terms unknown.
   --WR Anthony Gonzalez: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
   --SS Steve Gregory: UFA Chargers; $8.5M/3 yrs, $3.35M guaranteed.
   --DT Marcus Harrison: FA; terms unknown.
   --FB Spencer Larsen: UFA Broncos; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
   --WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA Rams; $12M/3 yrs, $3M SB.
   --DL Trevor Scott: UFA Raiders; $1.150M/1 yr, $250,000 SB.
   --WR Donte Stallworth: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST
   --DE Mark Anderson: UFA Bills; $27.5M/4 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
   --RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: UFA Bengals; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
   --OG Rich Ohrnberger (released/failed physical).
   --DE Mike Wright (released/failed physical).


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