Free Agency: Patriots Possible Targets
* The Patriots may decide against picking up another veteran to backup Tom Brady for 2006. More likely they will look at retaining Doug Flutie as their veteran for insurance with Matt Cassel as the number two. However, the Patriots have interviewed some Draft prospects including UAB's quarterback (see archives), and may decide to add depth late in the Draft or undrafted free agent market.
* Scout.com is reporting that Sammy Morris is likely off the market, or soon to be. Verron Haynes may be an option for insurance behind Kevin Faulk. Former Patriot Antowain Smith holds little appeal. New England has been scouting the draft-eligible running backs around the country including Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood, Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun, UCLA's Maurice Drew and USC's LenDale White. Patriots Insider has learned that one of these top prospects is coveted by the team as a possible replacement for the aging Corey Dillon. (link)
* The team's decision to retain FB Heath Evans appears to have set their direction at this position.
* Quincy Morgan is an interesting prospect for the Patriots after losing David Givens, Andre Davis and Tim Dwight. Marc Boerigter, another name not on the list, is talking to the Patriots among others . New England may look to the Draft again to build depth in this unit. Notre Dame's Maurice Stovall is reportedly high on their list, and Florida's Chad Jackson is an intriquing prospect. The team spent time recently at Iowa checking out another prospect. (article)
* With the departure of Christian Fauria to Washington, the Patriots need another body to fill out the lineup. Dan Campbell was one option that was considered, but is now off the market. After arranging a private workout with one Wisconsin TE (article) the team is definitely looking at prospects who might be available late in the Draft.
* Stephen Neal rejoined the team this week so the need for a starting guard has greatly diminished. The team has been spending a lot of time on the road checking out Draft prospects, and working out linemen projected to go in the first day of the Draft. Most of the players they're looking at are interior linemen who can play multiple positions. (See pro day articles Oklahoma, Big-12, Florida, more)
* Now that the team lost out on Jon Runyan, they may still target a free agent lineman, or they may again wait to Draft one. More recent activity with personal interviews of Draft Prospects tends to support that theory (see Little known prospect, Pats Look At OT)
* After missing out on Kevin Mawae, the draft will dictate who they like more than the remaining free agents. They have already met with three top rated prospects, a clear indication that they are looking at a possible future without Dan Koppen in it (prospect one, two, three).
* The need for a defensive takle to spell Vince Wilfork is a given. Considering Sam Adams was benched by Buffalo in their game against New England for not being effective, it's unlikley he's a candidate. Fisk was run over in Cleveland, but could fit the mold of a solid backup if New England decides they have to have one. Again, their scouting interviews indicate the Draft will provide the answer. (West Coast prospect, scouting a DT)
Gary Walker (DT)
* Replacing Richard Seymour is no easy feat. With Jarvis Green and Ty Warren slated as solid starters on the line, it may be crunch time for Marquise Hill and Santonio Thomas. More prospects are emerging in the Patriots pro day travels.
Nick Griesen (WLB)
* New England is believed to be interested in Rocky Calmus, but no details have emerged from conversations about the Colt free agent. After the failed Chad Brown experiement, the team will need someone to step in to fill his shoes and that of departed Matt Chatham who saw reserve duty on the inside. Patriots Insider has learned that one Big-10 prospect (link) is high on their list, and should be avialable when their turn rolls around in the Draft. The question is will they use the pick at LB or RB. They are also checking out a number of other prospects at pro days from the east coast to the west coast. (Big 10, SEC)
* The Patriots were never in the running for Julian Peterson due to the moster contract he was looking for, but they were interested. Don't be surprised to see one or more free agents in camp. Again, the team is serious about scouting hybrid replacements for Willie McGinest and were meeting with some of them before McGinest opted to become a Brown.
* The Patriots need depth at a position that never seems to have enough healthy bodies to make it through a season. With the addition of Troy Brown and Chad Scott, the emergency need is filled, but what will they do to lock down the position? If recent visits by Draft prospects are any indication, New England will take a DB in the first two rounds of this April's draft.
* The return of veteran Rodney Harrison has the team concerned about depth at the safety position. With Artrell Hawkins re-signed, they may have some wiggle room on the roster. The younger players are expected to step up, but injuries had a big impact on the position last year and the team will add at least one body to the mix here. While veteran Marcus Coleman could be a bargain, he's at the end of his career and was a problem for the Texans last year. The position the team is in, the Draft may hold the answer with Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams, South Carolina's Ko Simpson and Nebraska's Daniel Bullocks as options.