Unrestricted Free Agent Signings
WR Brandon Lloyd – 4 years/25 million
Lloyd to the Patriots seems like the worst kept secret in the league. Lloyd is a perfect fit for what the Patriots are trying to do and Lloyd wants to be a Patriot. It will cost some money to get him here but should add another dimension to the Patriots aeriel attack and take some pressure off Wes Welker.
CB Brandon Carr – 5 years/34 million
Most people expect the Patriots to be aggressive in free agency. Mario Williams’ name gets thrown around the most, however the free agent I think best fits what the Patriots need and what they tend to go after is Brandon Carr. He is a young CB who is just coming into his own.
He has already played in the Patriots system under Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli. Bill Belichick will be able to gain any information into his work ethic, off the field behavior and character that he needs from Pioli. When Belichick makes a splash in free agency it is usually on young guys who are just entering their prime (Colvin, Welker). Carr will be expensive, but he is exactly what the Patriots need right now.
DE/DT Adam Carriker – 3 years/8 Million
Carriker is one of the most versatile DL in the NFL. He started out his career as a DE and has since moved inside. He even played some NT last year for Washington. He is the type of under the radar player Bill Belichick loves to sign in Free Agency. The name Luis Castillo has been brought up but I think that will end up being to expensive. Belichick loves to bring in vetrans each year along the DL and Carriker is still relatively young at 27 years old.
DE/OLB Dave Tollefson – 3 years/6.5 Million
Tollefson seems exactly like a Patriots type player. A pass rusher who has been overshadowed his whole career. Tollefson could play the type of role Shaun Ellis played this year adding pass rush in sub packages.
LB Wesley Woodyard – 2 years/4 million
Woodyard is a tremendous coverage LB and a very good special teams player. The Patriots LB’s were awful in coverage last year especially in the middle of the field, adding depth at LB with players that can cover has to be a priority for the team. Woodyard played in Denver under Josh McDaniels and Scott O’Brien when he was the Special Teams coach there.
FS Reggie Smith – 2 years/2.5 million
Smith is a FS who moved from CB. He is an up and coming player who is likely to be squeezed out of the mix in San Franciso. There is a huge need at safety for the Patriots and not many players to fill the hole. Even if they don’t get the upper echelon safeties they need to add depth and Smith is a low risk, high reward type signing.
OG/OT TBD 1 year/Vetrans Minimum
The Patriots will add depth along the offensive line at some point this offseason. It’s tough to predict whom they will bring in at this point and if those players are even on the market at this point.
2012 NFL Draft Picks
*While I am not projecting exact trades, I am figuring that the Patrtiots will move around the board a little bit gaining 5th-7th round picks which they currently don’t have.
1st Round Pick 27 – Dont’a Hightower, OLB, Alabama
Hightower is a versatile LB who can play each position in the 3-4. After resigning Mark Anderson and Andre Carter the edge rushing position is not as big a need as it was once considered. Hightower is a good blitzer and plays an attacking downhill style. I view him as a strong side LB opposite Rob Ninkovich
1st Round Pick 31 – Mark Barron, S, Alabama
After missing out on the top safeties on the Free Agent market the Patriots have to address the position with the best safety in the draft. In getting Barron and Hightower the Patriots bring in the defensive leaders from the Nation’s best defense. They will bring stability to the back seven with a physical presence.
2nd Round Pick 48 – Kendall Reyes, DL, UConn
Reyes along with Carriker will add youth and versatility to what was an aging DL. Reyes can play anywhere from NT to 5-Tech. As a rookie I look for him to be a rotational player, providing interior pass rush in certain situations and eventually starting down the line.
2nd Round Pick 63 – Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Between adding Brandon Lloyd in free agency and Brian Quick in the draft the Patriots WR corps should be much more dynamic next year. Lloyd will fulfill the “possession” WR who can also get down field and Quick is that big outside the numbers WR who can take the top off defenses. Quick is raw and needs coaching but he would be that big WR the Patriots have lacked without Randy Moss.
3rd Round Pick 95 – Josh Robinson, CB, UCF
You can never have enough young CB depth. Robinson is a blazing fast CB who is connected to the Patriots through current assistant coach George Godsey. He might not be able to start right away but should provide good depth and return ability.
4th Round Pick 127 – David Molk, OC, Michigan
With Dan Koppen leaving via free agency, the Patriots find their center of the future. Molk is the strongest center in the draft and has been through the battles. This is a similar type of pick the Patriots made when they selected Dan Koppen in the 5th round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
5th Round Pick – Chris Rainey, WR/RB/KR, Florida
Rainey is drafted mainly as a return man. The Patriots return game lacked explosiveness last year and Rainey changes that quickly.
6th Round Pick – Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota
Compton is a developmental tackle who has a tall, athletic frame. With the right coaching he can be a contributor early on.