DE Mark Anderson
Anderson came into the season as a long shot to make the roster and this was kind of his last shot to prove he was more than a 1 year wonder. Anderson exceeded every single expectation and really increased his value.
The question will be now, how much does Anderson think he’s worth. The Patriots have revived his career and I am sure he would like to come back. It’s extremely tough to find pass rushers and the Patriots need to find a way to keep him. I expect him to sign a contract in the range of 3 years and 10-13 million.
DE Andre Carter
Carter is another player who came in and completely exceeded expectations. Unlike Anderson, Carter is nearing the end of his career. I get the feeling that Carter is much more concerned about winning and playing in this organization than signing another big contract. If the Patriots can sign Carter and Anderson then they will be able to focus on adding pass rushers at the linebacker position.
Carter will also give the Patriots the versatility to play both 3-4 and 4-3. I think Carter will be back next year most likely on a 1 year deal.
DE Shaun Ellis
Ellis was paid somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million this season and came in with much higher expectations than Anderson or Carter. Needless to say Ellis’ production did not match the contract. Ellis did play better in the playoffs, but I think Ellis’ career may be over. Ellis will not be back with the Patriots next season.
DT Gerard Warren
Warren played very well down the stretch and can still stop the run. Warren is on his last legs and if he plays anywhere next year it will be with the Patriots in a reserve roll.
LB Gary Guyton
If you follow me on twitter you know how I feel about Gary Guyton. Guyton was a huge liability in both run and pass coverage. He is a tremendous athlete, but there is a reason why he wasn’t drafted despite running a 4.4 as a LB. Guyton was inactive the last 4 regular season games and throughout the playoffs. I highly doubt and I hope Guyton is not back next year and they should be able to upgrade his roster spot.
LB Tracy White
White was an UFA last year and the Patriots brought him back. White is a very good special teams player and is a key component to all their Special Teams units. I think White is a player the Patriots will value much higher than other teams and for that reason I think they bring him back on a 2 year deal.
LB Niko Koutivides
Koutivides was in training camp with the Patriots and then brought back later in the year to add LB depth and ST depth. Koutivides is a “JAG” and most likely will not be back with the Patriots.
CB Antwaun Molden
Molden was exploited badly in the Super Bowl and throughout the year. He is a player that the Patriots were obviously high on because he made the team despite not being on the roster at all in training camp. He is someone who may be brough back as the #5 CB however the Patriots MUST upgrade their CB depth as he is not someone who should be covering an elite WR in man coverage.
CB Nate Jones
Jones is another one of those “JAGs” who provided depth throughout the season. He won’t be back.
S James Ihedigbo
I really like Ihedigbo…as a special teams player and depth safety. He can not cover to save his life and was continually exploited throughout the year. Safety is a position which the Patriots are definitely going to upgrade in the offseason. If I had to guess I would say Ihedigbo is not brought back, unless it’s in a special teams only capacity.
Exclusive Rights Free Agent
DT Kyle Love
Love is someone who has shown he can play in the league and is a very solid run support player. I like him more as a rotational DT than a full time player. I think the Patriots add a more dynamic interior tackle in the offseason. Love will unquestionably be back next year.
Restricted Free Agents
QB Brian Hoyer
Hoyer is likely to be the free agent who will draw the most interest from other teams. He has shown that he has the tools to be a successful QB in this league. There are going to be a number of teams looking for QBs this offseason and with Matt Flynn’s price tag likely to be sky high they may turn their attention to Hoyer. I expect the Patriots to tender him with at least a 2nd round tender, meaning that they will receive a draft pick if another team signs him.
Hoyer is a great chip to have as he could bring in other draft choices or assets. The Patriots drafted Ryan Mallet last year and if they are comfortable with his progress and development I think we will see the Patriots explore trading Hoyer. On the other end of the spectrum, Coach Belichick believes that Hoyer is that good, they could try to hang onto him and groom him to be the QB after Brady retires.
S Bret Lockett
Lockett is as irrelevant a player as there is on the Patriots roster. I don’t expect the Patriots to tender him and will let him walk.