NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
On Tuesday, I took a look at the Patriots current free agents and who was likely and unlikely to return to the team.
Today I take a look at all the other free agents around the league and talk about who might interest the Patriots and why they would be a good fit.
Unrestricted Free Agency is one of the most anticipated and exciting days of the off season.
For Patriot fans, we will always look back on 2003 when they landed Rosevelt Colvin and Rodney Harrison and 2007 when they landed the top available free agent Adalius Thomas.
The Patriots don’t always make a splash in free agency, however, when Bill Belichick feels like the team is close he has been known to go out and get the “missing pieces”. You can’t get much closer than the Patriots did this season and I have a feeling Coach/GM Belichick will add a few quality pieces to the team this off season.
According to Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel the Patriots have $101,827,381 committed to the 2012 roster. With the the salary cap likely to be somewhere in the range of 121-125 million dollars the Patriots will have plenty of money to spend
When you take into account possible cuts (Ochocinco) even more money might be available. The Patriots have the ability to be major players this off season.
The Patriots offense has very few holes on it. The two positions where you can look at and suggest an upgrade be made is the receiver and center spot.
I don’t expect the Patriots to go out and spend a lot of money on a center. Both Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen are free agents and one of them will be re-signed, probably Connolly. I think they feel confident in one of those guys and also have other internal options. The Patriots could also draft a center, but they probably won’t do so too high in the draft.
That brings me to the receiver position. There is bound to be plenty of speculation (and already is) about what WRs the Patriots will go after. There is no denying that there are some very big names available and a few that could be intriguing to the Patriots.
Brandon Lloyd (StL)- The speculation surrounding Lloyd coming to the Patriots is already widespread due to his comments that he wants to go where Josh McDaniels goes. Will Lloyd be willing to take less to come to the Patriots? He already knows the offense, so having a repeat of the Chad Ochocinco fiasco won’t happen. Lloyd has had 147 catches the past two seasons, but is already 30 years old and the Patriots might want someone a little bit younger.
Vincent Jackson (SD)- Jackson is the big, tall, outside WR that many Patriots fans yearn for. There have been whispers in the past that the Patriots like Jackson and thus could make a run at him this off season. Jackson is going to cost a ton of money and still might not even hit the market if franchised.
Reggie Wayne (IND)- Wayne is 34 years old, but seems to fit the “Patriot Way”. He’s a team player who is reliable, has very good hands, runs crisp routes, and can stretch the field. Wayne is an intriguing possibility and in the short term he might be the best answer.
Pierre Garcon (IND)- Garcon is only 26 years old and is just scratching the surface of his talent. He has the potential to be one of the best WR in football playing in the right offense. The question with Garcon is his hands. He has dropped a lot of balls and that’s something that Tom Brady just won’t put up with.
Other WRs who may interest the Patriots:
Robert Meachem (NO), Mario Manningham (NYG), Early Doucet (Ari)
No other position on the offense has a “glaring” need however, if the Patriots allow BenJarvus Green-Ellis to walk, I could see the Patriots bringing in a veteran RB to guide the young RB stable that they will likely roll with next season. Someone like Ronnie Brown or Ryan Grant might be a good fit as a roll player and injury insurance.
The tight end position is stacked for years to come, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team went after a Kyle Brady type TE to take some of the blocking responsibilities off of Rob Gronkowski to keep him fresh as the season goes on.
The offensive line has good depth and is fairly young, but a depth signing likely as well.
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