2012 NFL Free Agency: Patriots Mock Offseason

Brian Hoyer Patriots Trade

Is Brian Hoyer going to be in a Patriots uniform next year?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

With free agency starting on Tuesday, rosters for the 2012 NFL season will begin to take shape. Between free agency this week, the draft in April and trades made throughout the summer, each NFL team will look different when camps open.

In this piece I put on my prognosticator’s cap and try to project not only who the Patriots will draft in April, but who they will sign, re-sign and release along the way.

* This is pure speculation and not based on cap projections, just my take based on needs and whose out there. Based on the most recent numbers I have seen the Patriots have a little more than 18 million in cap space right now, including the 1.6 million they received for the Redskins and Cowboys going over the cap. Teams can also go three million dollars over the cap for veterans contracts each year. With players like Brady, Mankins, Wilfork and others possibly restructuring it could open up plenty of more cap space.

Here is my Patriots Offseason Projection:

Departures (Contract, Retirements):
RB BenJarvus Green Ellis
RB Kevin Faulk (Retired)
FB Lousaka Polite
OG Donald Thomas
C Dan Koppen
DL Shaun Ellis
DL Gerard Warren
DL Mike Wright
LB Gary Guyton
LB Niko Koutivides
CB Nate Jones
CB Antwan Molden

Players Released:

WR Chad Ochocinco
It just didn’t work out for Chad. The money doesn’t match the production so he has to go.

S Sergio Brown
Was expected to make a big jump in year two, it just didn’t happen.

S Josh Barrett
Often hurt and underproductive, position will be upgraded.

Players Signed

DE/OLB Mark Anderson – 2 years/6.5 million
Mark Anderson has played other places and flamed out. It’s tough to find pass rushers who fit the Patriots system and when you can find a relatively young one, you have to keep them. Anderson may try to find a bigger contract somewhere else, but I believe other teams are going to be a little cautious about giving him a lot of money. From all accounts it sounds like their is mutual interest in him returning to Foxboro.

WR Deion Branch – 1 year/1 million
Branch is much more valuable in the Patriots offense than he is anywhere else. He has already had his big pay day and saw what it was like away from the Patriots. He has repeated many times how he wants to end his career here. I expect Branch back on a one year deal for short money. I would also think his role will be diminished a little bit, and should be the number three or four receiver next year.

ST Matthew Slater – 4 years/4.4 million
Bill Belichick loves Matthew Slater. He drafted him in the 5th round when not many teams had a draftable grade on him. Slater made the team despite missing training camp with injuries. Slater is the special teams captain and a part of the leadership on this team. I expect the Patriots to try and get him locked up to a multi-year deal.

QB Brian Hoyer 2nd round tender – 1.9 million
The second round tender for QBs is 1.9 million. Another team could come after Hoyer and offer him a contract in which the Patriots would get a second round pick. I think Hoyer is back unless a team out there really covets him.

OG/OC Dan Connolly – 3 years/3.5 million
Connolly is a valuable interior lineman who can play multiple positions. He has filled in admirably the past two seasons when injuries struck. Bill Belichick has already locked up the other interior backup Ryan Wendell, so I expect a fair market value contract for Connolly.

DE Andre Carter – 1 year/2.5 million
While most people expect Carter back I can actually see a situation where they decide to go their separate ways. Carter had a great season before injury and is a great teammate. I expect Carter to sit on the market for awhile and then sign a one year, short money contract with the Patriots.

S James Ihedigbo –  1 year/600k
Ihedigbo can’t be asked to play as much safety next year, but he is a very solid special teams player and a fiery competitor. He should be back on an inexpensive contract.

LB Tracy White – 1 year/600k
White is a core special teamer and nothing more at this point. He plays on all the special teams units and is a great on kick coverage units. He is an important part of the team and the Patriots will bring him back.

Click on page two for the unrestricted free agents and draft picks.

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34 Responses to “2012 NFL Free Agency: Patriots Mock Offseason”

  1. JMC says:

    No Llyod (to old for the money)- sign Benny- It be great great to sign Carr but who really thinks that is going to happen…. I think I’d rather have an OC higher in the draft, Maybe Konz at #31- No draft replacement for Waters.

  2. Jeff says:

    Slater??? Mulit year deal for a kick off return specialist who cant make it past the 19 yard line. Awesome

    • Dan says:

      He’s a kick off COVERAGE guy…one of the best special teams players in the league. He’ll be worth every penny. In fact, the word as of tonight is he’s signed.

  3. Mark says:

    Dag nabbit Doug!!! Now Rex knows our plan. SSSHHHH!

  4. Joe Blake says:

    Great post. Hoping for a DL stud from the draft in round 1. I think we are set at RB with Ridley and Vereen getting more playing time. We need to be more physical at Safety and get more speed at CB. (Manningham was open by a yard..Mannings toss could have varied by a foot and would still have been completed for example). WR who can go deep and a third TE are great points. My worries: we have not won a SB since Brady went hollywood on us.

    • JMC says:

      Can’t see the Patriots “set” with Ridley and Vereen. Folks are going to look back on this and see it was a mistake-

  5. TD says:

    Some of those salaries are pretty small, especially for starters like Connolly, Carter, Slater and Branch. The backup OL’s make more than what you have Connolly pegged at and I doubt $4.4 mil for 4yrs gets it done for one of the top special teamers in the league, Slater. Cripes Paxton got almost $2 mil per year and that was 3 yrs ago.

  6. Lundahl says:

    Don’t think they’ll draft Hightower, they’ll draft a CB instead.

    • Jim R says:

      Would love them to get Hightower. Pass on Barron. get a good corner Gillmore. With the FA’s Corner/Safety Marshall/Nelson- WR Lloyd or Garcon Dlineman ???? and RB Michael Bush.

  7. Lundahl says:

    I think BB will sign a FB for our new running game next season. I do expect a veteran DB.

  8. Josh says:

    I think that this is a fun exercise and I like a lot of the choices. I disagree with a few things though:

    RB BenJarvus Green Ellis is more valuable to the Pats than to most other teams. This combined with a deep RB draft brings Law Firm back on a cap-friendly 3-4 year deal.

    C Dan Koppen is past his prime, coming off of an injury, and there is a deep group of FA centers. He’s back on a cap-friendly deal.

    DL Gerard Warren is affordable, please well in the system, team likes him. 1-year deal at veteran minimum.

    CB Antwan Molden is a capable backup, not much else, but he’s worth brining to camp. Cheap signing.

    As to FA from other teams, I think that Brandon Lloyd is a good affordable choice but I would not hesitate to use #31 for Mike Wallace. I’d even sign Wallace and Lloyd. My only concern is that giving Wallace a big deal could upset Welker.

    I like Red Bryant as a young, versatile inside lineman, what Haynesworth should have been. Contract probably somewhere in the teens, 3 years.

    I disagree about the Brandon Carr pick; not sure that we take a guy from Pioli. Also, I’m not sure it’s a need (yes, I watched in 2011). I think that McCourty, Arrington, Moore, Dowling, and a 1st or 2nd round CB gives us a competitive group.

    I’m okay with the draft picks but I think that we may have been lulled into a false sense of security at NT by Wilfork’s durability. Imagine being without him? My picks are as follows:

    27. Janoris Jenkins CB

    31. To Steelers for Mike Wallace WR

    48. Alameda Ta’amu NT

    63. Brian Quick WR

    94. Trumaine Johnson CB/S

    • Josh says:

      I’m ok with Molk in the 4th but maybe a QB if we keep Koppen and Connoly and manage to trade Hoyer. I’d also take a late shot at Jeff Demps instead of Rainey.

    • JMC says:

      Would love to see them spend the #31 for Mike Wallace in a four year (or so) deal. Don’t think it will happen- but it would be really great-

    • JMC says:

      I agree with Josh’s take on Benny. I think Molton is a good sign- development. Not sure Barron is such a great pick-

  9. Asap says:

    great writeup! I really hope we get hightower, but I think he showed too well at combine

  10. MJP says:

    I hope that the Lloyd signing you’ve project is the worst-case scenario, 6M per seems a bit high but I do like the fit.

    I would rather have Langford at the 5-tech than Carriker who has struggled worse than Langford and for a longer period of time.

    I like the Carr signing but I would imagine Richard Marshall would get a serious look, moved to FS for Arizona last year and played well…has lots of experience in coverage as he’s played mostly CB….kid can tackle too.

    Will the Pats look to Eric Winston now that he’s a FA (at RT?)…Light might be gone and Vollmer has injury concerns.

    Any thoughts on Atogwe?

  11. DWE 2012 says:

    Hoyer – I Really Hope we can get a Decent pick for him.

    Dan Connelly – Deserves a bit more IMO – He’s proven to be endlessly usefull and has been a key cog on the Patriot wheel. Play’s multiple possition’s in general. Fill’s in when other’s get injured……It’s a no brainer IMO to keep him, even if it meant another Mill in his favor.

    Lousake Polite – I’d like actually to see him stick around(and with a Faulk retirment, I see no reson not to keep him as a roster spot will be available….no issues).

    Dan Koppen – ??? Why wouldn’t he OR we want him to stay right where he was drafted for what could be his last year is a little baffling. He’s been a Patriot since he was drafted by us in the 5th round back in 2003. & Played at Boston College No Less! He should go down and retire a life long NE Patriot who was a staple in it’s wining way’s and consistency! He’d also be a guy to mentor the NEWBIE (C) that we need in his last year.

    Mark Anderson – Definetly a keeper.
    Carter would be good as well to keep while the DE THAT WE DRAFT….. ?get’s acclimated.

    Branch – Agreed with the 1 more only factor, he’ll be good as stated as a third/fourth WR as well as coaching up the newbies.

    & unless THE LAW FIRM is replaced immiedietly by an astonishing “holy crap did we just sign who?” F.A……like a Matt Forte.. then BJ-GE should stay for a respectable two year deal until we REALLY see just what our Round 2 Vereen and Round 3 Ridley can actually produce on the regular.

    Slater – Good for (ST).

    The rest………..Na-Na, Na-Na-Na-Na, Hey-Hey-Hey………..

  12. Jim says:

    I would love to see Green-Ellis back in a Pats uniform next season. Also, I really think that the Pats need to get another TE. When Gronk was injured it really hampered the offense. I think Ladarius Green would be a great WR type TE if not in New England, then somewhere else. He’s fast, and big.

    • MJP says:

      Great point Jim, I think we learned what happens when you don’t have solid depth at each position….when Gronk went down there was no one worthy to even consider plugging in, big mistake in retrospect that easily could have been overcome.

    • td says:

      Can only have 53 on the roster, not 153. Last year we had 2 TE’s BB tried to get on the practice squad, but got picked up.

      One quality backup at each position is 44, add LS,K, P and at least 3 special teams players and that’s 50. 3rd QB, 5th WR makes 52. Who makes the last spot? An extra OL that can play T and G; extra TE, extra DB, extra pass rusher?

      • MJP says:

        OHHHHH, brilliant insight, thanks for clearing that up….d-bag.

        No need for a 3rd QB, and how about having positional backups play multiple positions, perhaps someone like Connolly could play OG and C, and Cannon could play OG or RT…that’s 2 guys backing up 5 positions, heck, let’s make it 3 or 4 that way we can have an extra TE who can actually play TE if Gronk/Hernandez goes down.

        Hey, maybe we should have cut Ochocinco or released/traded one of the 4 LB’s who barely saw the field.

        Awesome insight…you really hit it on the head with that one.

        • Jim says:

          2 years again, the Pats did carry 3 active TE’s without issue. Sometimes, all 3 were on the field at the same time. Last year, BB used 1 roster spot for a 5th running back, and 1 spot for a full back (later in the year). I don’t see the Pats keeping a spot open for Faulk this year, nor do I see them carrying a FB when then can use one of the backup O-linemen, or a LB like they’ve done so many times in the past. In addition, there is a good chance that the Pats will TRY to trade one of the backup QBs. Right there, you are looking at 2, or 3 open spots. If they draft, or sign another big TE who can catch, and act as a wide receiver, then that reduces the need to carry an extra wide receiver. However, who knows what BB will do.

        • TD says:

          Thanx man, must be having a good day, huh?

  13. Jared says:

    What jumps out at me is all the free-agents signings. I cant imagine them shelling out $50+ million dollars on a corner and a receiver just after signing up to pay Welker 9 nd a half mil this year. I can a see Brandon Lloyd signing but I cant see them signing a top corner also, but i hope your right.
    I think a more realistic scenario free-agent wise would be something like..
    -A.Carter and/or Mark Anderson on 1-2 yr deals
    -I think at corner the Pats will be looking more in the cheaper Tracy Porter type guy rather than paying top dollar. I think a corner or safety in the 1st or 2nd rnd is also pretty likely.
    -At LB i hope and pray for John Abraham on a 1 year deal. I think Jarret Johnson from Balt would also be a good fit on the edge.
    -I dont think they need another ILB like Woodyard with Spikes and Mayo and even Dane Fletcher, even though im not a big Mayo fan.
    -Green Ellis signs for cheap because there arent many better options out there in FA, maybe B.Jacobs on a 1-2 yr deal.
    -Brandon LLoyd seems to good to be true for the Pats, so maybe it is. If they dont sign Lloyd i would expect a WR drafted in the first 2 rounds.
    -I expect them to sign some sort of veteran safety, probably a backup. Personally I would like to see James Ihedigbo go and see them sign Tom Zbikowski fro the Ravens. good special teams player and can play SS and FS.

    As far as your mock draft…im not go against your late picks. I dont mind the Barron pick at safety. But I dont like the Hightower for the Pats either, most scouts see him as more of a ILB or nickel backer. I feel the Patriots need a player to come in and be able to set the edge, and i dont think you will find a starting OLB that can rush the passer like you want and set the edge like you want in Dont’a Hightower. Tough to get those guys picking in the 20’s, lot of Jermaine Cunningham type guys there. Thats why if I were the Patriots and I were drafting I would be looking at D-lineman first, but more realistically looking a lot of corners and receivers.
    Patriots need help on defense but in my opinion unless 1 or 2 DB’s fall to them-they’re not looking at much to choose from between picks 27-31. I would love to see either Janoris Jenkins or Stephon Gilmore fall to them at 27, but not likely.
    In the 2nd round I think WR from S.Car- Alshon Jeffery would be a good pick, kid is unbelievable at going up and getting the ball.

  14. Chris says:

    I lovet that offseason, but how do they make all those signings work under the cap?

  15. Yesares says:

    Very nicely done.

    Only disagree with the 3 first picks in draft and the David Mold pick.

    I would rather select Peter Konz and a Defensive Linemen (Devon Still, Fletcher Cox, if avalaible) in first round, then Harrison Smith for the 48th pick and will use the 4th round pick for a running back (because Green-Ellis, Faulk and Polite are gone), perhaps someone like Robert Turbin (if avalaible), Terrence Ganaway: a big between the tackes RB type. Even I would think about a versatile half back/full back/tight end like Evan Rodríguez, a poor’s man Aaron Hernandez.

  16. Jon says:

    This is a pretty good write-up, but I wonder if you left the cupboard a bit bare at the RB position.

    Also, isn’t Polite going to be around next year. It looks like you have him scheduled for departure not via release.

    A late round pick, or a moderately priced FA might be in order.

    I’ve become a bit skeptical of Lloyd over the past few days as well based on some radio interviews and articles concerning his character. I know lots of guys turn things around here, but I’m wondering now if another player will get the nod over him.

  17. Phil says:

    Great mock offseason. I agree with everything you said. Looking forward to this offseason no doubt.

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