A closer look at this list reveals a few potential targets for the Patriots. If the opportunity arises that the team can add a few more bodies to the roster, some of the names on defense are likely to attract of attention of Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick.
Here is Scout.com's listing of the best of what's left on the free agent market...
Here is a listing of the best players left available in free agency as of early Saturday, according to the free agency experts at Scout.com. Do you agree? Check out Scout's free agent database and then offer your take in the football crazy Patriots forums with your fellow fans and resident experts.
PI's Take: The name that jumps out here is Doug Flutie. While Flutie hasn't revealed whether he'll return for another year to man the backup role behind Tom Brady, he is the most likely to be signed from the list.
PI's Take: Mike Cloud saw action as a Patriot in 2005, and that action was uninspiring. It was Cloud's second stint with the team and didnt' last as long as his first. James Jackson is an intriguing prospect. Jackson split time in Butch Davis' backfield at Miami with Edgerrin James. Jackson hasn't lived up to the Miami mystique for turning out top running backs, but he could offer an additional body for camp. After drafting Laurence Maroney in the first round, it's unlikely the team will look for another running back unless there's an injury.
PI's Take: Kevin Johnson is an intriguing possibility for the Patriots. Although the Patriots second- round draft pick Chad Jackson will likely assume the role of the team's number two receiver, Johnson's experience could prove to be a valuable addition to the roster. The team did acquire free agent Reche Caldwell and re-sign Troy Brown. So the need for another veteran receiver may not be that high.
PI's Take: For the better part of the last three months, Scout.com has been reporting that the Patriots are possibly looking to completely overhaul the tight end position. With the exception of Ben Watson, that forecast might still come true. The Patriots added David Thomas and Garrett Mills via the Draft after losing Christian Fauria to the Redskins via free agency. Thomas is expected to fill in for Fauria. The future of Dan Graham remains clouded. The former first round selection is in a contract year, and the early indication is that the team may be exploring other options. It is unlikely the Patriots will add another tight end to the mix until the Graham situation is resolved, probably next season.
PI's Take: After missing out on G/C Kevin Mawae via free agency, the Patriots could still use some additional talent on the offensive line. With the uncertainty of Dan Koppen return to his pre-injury form of 2005, a versatile lineman who could fill in at either position G/C is the only type of player likely to draw the team's interest. After re-signing Guard Stephen Neal and drafting Dan Stevenson, the team may be done looking for line help at guard for now.
PI's Take: The names available at tackle are not as appealing at this time. Tom Ashworth moved on to the Seahawks via free agency, and there is some concern over Matt Light's rehab from a leg injury. The Patriots re-signed Ross Tucker, Wesley Britt and Drafted Ryan O'Callaghan.
PI's Take: Although both Mitchell and Raymer are veteran centers, it's more likely the Patriots will go in another direction.
PI's Take: Free agent addition Martin Gramatica and fourth-round draft pick Stephen Gostkowski will compete for duties as the team's kicker in camp. If either is a washout, Edinger may get a call from the Patriots if he is still available.
PI's Take: The list of available veteran punters offers slim pickings. Many on the list are either on the wrong side of 30, or have injury concerns. With the season Josh Miller turned in for 2005 he should be safe for 2006 barring injury. The Patriots will probably bring in a rookie punter for camp to take a look at, and share some reps with Miller.
PI's Take: The Patriots are interested in finding a viable backup for Vince Wilfork at nose tackle for next season. Although Dan Klecko and Mike Wright were serviceable, the team needs some beef in the center.
PI's Take: The Patriots should be all set for line depth at defensive end at this point. With Richard Seymour under wraps with a long-term deal, TY Warren and Jarvis Green should add significant depth at the position. The Patriots have a couple of young players they hope will develop in Santonio Thomas and Marquise Hill. Although the jury is still out on Hill, his potential has the team sticking with him.
PI's Take: The Patriots would like to move Mike Vrabel back to the outside on one end of the line with Rosevelt Colvin on the other. In order to do that, they need to acquire a solid inside backer to play next to Tedy Bruschi. Monty Beisel, last year's inside backer, had difficulty absorbing the duties, and was one of the reasons why Vrabel was moved inside. Earl Holmes has earned a reputation as a solid run support player, but may be a liability in coverage. Rocky Calmus is another name that has been connected to the Patriots before, but their level of interest may be more speculative due to Calmus' history of injury.
PI's Take: Jamie Sharper and Peter Boulware are a couple of names that surfaced in connection with the Patriots last season. The team opted to go with Chad Brown and moved him inside when Ted Johnson unexpectedly retired. Keith Newman is one name on the list that has experience at the outside position in a 4-3 defense, and may have the ability to transition into the Patriots' style offense. Tommy Polley had a productive season for the Ravens last year while Barrett Green may be in the Dolphins plans.
PI's Take: The Ty Law to New England rumors won't go away, although not much has happened since PI reported the team was still talking to Law a few months ago. The addition of Eric Warfield (Chiefs), and the return of Randall Gay and Chad Scott from injury improve the depth at the position. Ray Mickens could be a possibility; he filled in well in Cleveland as their nickel back. Ahmed Plummer is also an option, although he never panned out in San Francisco, a change of scenery may help. A number of the names on the list have over ten seasons experience or injury concerns, which indicates they may have little gas left in their tanks.
PI's Take: The situation with Rodney Harrison will affect how the team addresses further additions to this unit. Without Harrison, the only player on the roster with a full season is Eugene Wilson. Guss Scott and James Sanders are coming off injury-shortened seasons while Artrell Hawkins looks to be the most experienced player in the group. The team did add a number of safeties via the post-draft rush including Jarvis Herring, Keon Jackson and Sam Smith. Their combined inexperience predicates the need to add another veteran to the mix. Lance Schulters and Keion Carpenter are names that offer a veteran presence over untested rookies or younger players.