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
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
--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
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.
--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
--WR Matt Slater: UFA; $5.4M/3 yrs, $2M SB.
--LB Tracy White: UFA; $990,000/1 yr, $300,000
--CB Will Allen: UFA Dolphins; $1.025M/1 yr,
--CB Marquice Cole: Not tendered as RFA by Jets;
$640,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB.
--DE Jonathan Fanene: UFA Bengals; $12M/3 yrs,
--TE Daniel Fells: UFA Broncos; $5.25M/3 yrs, $2M
--OG Robert Gallery: FA Seahawks; 1 yr, terms
--WR Anthony Gonzalez: UFA Colts; 1 yr, terms
--SS Steve Gregory: UFA Chargers; $8.5M/3 yrs,
--DT Marcus Harrison: FA; terms unknown.
--FB Spencer Larsen: UFA Broncos; 2 yrs, terms
--WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA Rams; $12M/3 yrs, $3M SB.
--DL Trevor Scott: UFA Raiders; $1.150M/1 yr,
--WR Donte Stallworth: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms
--DE Mark Anderson: UFA Bills; $27.5M/4 yrs, $8M
--RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: UFA Bengals; 3 yrs,
--OG Rich Ohrnberger (released/failed physical).
--DE Mike Wright (released/failed physical).
Free Agent Rankings
Free Agent News
Recent News: Hoyer
Signs His Tender
: What should
the Patriots do in free agency?
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