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2012 NFL Offseason: New England Patriots

Draft Grades, Season Previews, Offseason Needs, Free Agents



New England Patriots (Last Year: 13-3)

2012 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Joseph Addai, FB Tony Fiammetta, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Jabar Gaffney, WR Dont'e Stallworth, G Robert Gallery, DE/DT Jonathan Fanene, DE/OLB Trevor Scott, OLB Bobby Carpenter, CB Will Allen, CB Marquice Cole, S Steve Gregory.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Chandler Jones, ILB Dont'a Hightower, S Tavon Wilson, DE/OLB Jake Bequette.
Offseason Losses:
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, WR Chad Ochocinco, OT Matt Light, DE Andre Carter, DE Mark Anderson, OLB Gary Guyton, CB Antwaun Molden, S James Ihedigbo.

2012 New England Patriots Offense:
The rich just got richer. The Patriots already had an explosive offense despite missing a legitimate No. 1 receiver. They filled that need - while barely sacrificing anything.

When Josh McDaniels was hired to be the new offensive coordinator, many linked Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots. Lloyd starred under McDaniels' tutelage in Denver, catching 77 balls for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 despite having Kyle Orton as his quarterback. The only obstacle to Lloyd landing in New England was his agent Tom Condon, whom Bill Belichick despises. The two resolved their differences for just this time only, but Lloyd had to make a big sacrifice; he signed a 3-year, $12 million contract, which is well below his market value. Lloyd made the right move, however. He has the best chance of getting the most out of his career by teaming up with McDaniels and Tom Brady. It's refreshing to see that unlike the Sidney Rices and Vincent Jacksons of the world, Lloyd actually cares about football and knows what's best for his legacy.

Brady, of course, has to be thrilled. He broke Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record last year (though finishing behind Drew Brees), throwing for 5,235 yards, 39 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Despite his goofy haircuts and vicious wife, Brady is at the top of his game, and his offensive arsenal is more impressive than ever.

The future Hall-of-Fame quarterback will continue to utilize Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez heavily. Gronkowski is a freak of nature; defensive coordinators have not figured out how to cover him yet, as he's too big for safeties and too fast for linebackers. Double-teaming him isn't really an option either because Hernandez is also a very dangerous tight end, and Welker is always there to catch passes out of the slot. The one issue is that Welker, 31, is currently mired in a monetary dispute. He's looking for one last big contract, but it appears as though he's overplaying his hand because despite his impressive statistics, he's just a slot receiver, after all. He might be the best of his kind in the NFL, but someone like Davone Bess could also breach 100 receptions every season with Brady as his quarterback.

New England didn't just go after Lloyd; it landed Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth in free agency as well. Gaffney may replace Deion Branch as Brady's safety valve. While Branch is still reliable, he clearly lacks any sort of burst. Gaffney, meanwhile, caught 68 balls for 947 yards and five touchdowns last year despite catching passes from Rex Grossman. He impressed Belichick, hauling in six grabs for 92 yards and a score versus New England in a December matchup. He played with Brady in 2006 and 2007, so there won't be any sort of transition period despite the fact that he switched teams. Stallworth, meanwhile, will be an occasional deep threat if he makes the roster.

The Patriots have two potential holes on offense, one of which is at left tackle. Nate Solder, a first-round pick last April, will take over for the retired Matt Light. Solder started 13 games last year but really struggled at times. He'll have a full offseason for the first time in his professional career, so there's a chance he'll improve and end up serving well as Brady's blind-side protector. If not, there's always Sebastian Vollmer, who has left tackle experience. The talented fourth-year player is penciled in at right tackle.

The interior of New England's offensive front is pretty stout. Left guard Logan Mankins is one of the top players at his position. Right guard Brian Waters played pretty well last year despite being 34. Center is a bit of a concern with Dan Connolly currently slated to start over Dan Koppen, who was on the field for only one game in 2011 because of a broken ankle.

New England's second potential hole is at running back. Stevan Ridley was impressive for the most part during his rookie campaign, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. However, he dealt with some late-season fumbling issues, prompting Belichick to completely sideline him in the Super Bowl. The other second-year back, Shane Vereen, has big talent but barely played last year. The Patriots signed former Colt Joseph Addai this offseason, so given Belichick's love affair with washed-up veterans, Addai might be the starter early in 2012. There's no telling what the Hooded One will do.





2012 New England Patriots Defense:
As great as New England's offense was last year, the defense was equally bad. The team struggled to stop opposing aerial attacks, ranking 27th in YPA (7.9).

The Patriots opted to improve this aspect of their stop unit by bolstering their pass rush. They were actually third in sacks last year with 51, but they lost Andre Carter and Mark Anderson in free agency. Belichick responded by spending two early selections on pass-rushers, taking Syracuse's Chandler Jones in the first round and Arkansas' Jake Bequette in the third. He also signed former Raider Trevor Scott in free agency. Still, these are all downgrades until the two rookies are ready to play because Carter and Anderson combined for 26 sacks (including the playoffs).

A worse pass rush won't make things easier for a struggling secondary. The safety position, in particular, is in shambles. Free safety Patrick Chung isn't too bad, but the strong safety job will be up to newly signed Steven Gregory, who was awful for San Diego last year. Second-round rookie Tavon Wilson could push Gregory, but Wilson was a major reach, given that he wasn't ranked above No. 182 on any major big board.

There's a lot of uncertainty at corner. Kyle Arrington picked off seven passes and made some nice plays, but he surrendered five touchdowns as well. Devin McCourty, currently projected to be the other starter, gave up six scores himself, but had an excuse - he was laboring through a shoulder injury. Ras-I Dowling, chosen in the second round last year, probably won't push for a starting job; he's coming off hip surgery and has reportedly looked awful in OTAs. Sterling Moore has a better chance to unseat either McCourty or Arrington; Moore was waived last year, but was awesome in the playoffs, knocking a Super Bowl-clinching touchdown out of Lee Evans' hands in the AFC Championship.

New England had two first-round selections at its disposal, and it spent the second one on Dont'a Hightower, who is expected to start at strongside linebacker over Rob Ninkovich, who is really good in run support, but tends to struggle in pass coverage. The talented Hightower will play in a linebacking corps with stud Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, another great run-defender.

The best player on New England's defense is Vince Wilfork, one of the top nose tackles in the NFL. Just 30 years old, Wilfork is still at the top of his game. He'll play next to Kyle Love, who doesn't offer much of a pass rush, or perhaps Jonathan Fanene, a decent lineman signed over from Cincinnati.





2012 New England Patriots Schedule and Intangibles:
Since 2003, the Patriots are 69-12 at home. They were 9-1 last year, going down only to the Giants. History would repeat itself in February.

Stephen Gostkowski is one of the top kickers in the NFL. He went 28-of-33 last year, hitting 9-of-11 tries from 40-49. He was 1-of-2 from 50-plus.

Zoltan Mesko did a good job punting last year, maintaining a 46.5 average with 24-of-57 attempts pinned inside the 20.

The Patriots didn't return kickoffs very well, but they scored once on a punt return, thanks to Julian Edelman. They didn't allow any touchdowns.

Despite losing in the Super Bowl, the Patriots don't have a very taxing schedule. In addition to beating up on the Jets and Dolphins twice each, New England will have the luxury of battling the Titans, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams, Colts and Jaguars.



2012 New England Patriots Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):

Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


2012 New England Patriots Analysis: The Patriots will always be a Super Bowl contender as long as Tom Brady is healthy. They should be able to win the AFC East, and there's a chance they'll secure homefield advantage in the playoffs. However, they haven't done enough defensively to help prevent another January (or February) collapse.

Projection: 13-3 (1st in AFC East)


2012 Fantasy Football Rankings


More 2012 NFL Season Previews

*** 2012 NFL DRAFT GRADES, OFFSEASON NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***


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Steven 04-27-2013 07:38 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.225 (total posts: 2)
182     16

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems your logic for New England's WR's grade is its past history with drafting WR's.

So you're saying New England gets a C for Dobson, but if the team right after the Pats picked him, they'd get a B (assuming their need for a WR is similar)?

I don't think that makes sense... New England's past history doesn't detract from Dobson as a player.

That dude 04-27-2013 07:07 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.246 (total posts: 1)
26     75

I go into Walterfootball a lot because I think that for all the criticism it gets the page is actually preety decent. But I am tired of seeing Walter Being so hard on the patriots, just because you don't know someone dosen't mean that player is bad, whatch some tape on Harmon and you will see a preety good defender with a nice aggresive style that is also a kid with nice characther, so don't be so hard on the pats and wait and see because he is a developmental player who in a coouple of years could be preety good
Fletcher 04-27-2013 06:56 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.169 (total posts: 1)
526     1006

2. Jamie Collins DE/OLB Grade: B+
Fills a need with another pass rusher. Has lots of potential.

2. Aaaron Dobson WR Grade: A
Patriots need some good WRs. Provides depth at worst.

3. Logan Ryan CB Grade: B
Has a CB2 ceiling but could be a great nickle back over Arrington.

3. Duron Harmon S Grade: C
Provides depth, could be good but will be buried on the depth chart behind both Wilsons.

4. Josh Boyce WR Grade: A
Reminds me of Desean Jackson. Could be a breakout star with Brady.

7. Michael Buchanan DE Grade: B
Provides more pass rushing depth. Has potential.

7. Steve Beauharnais ILB Grade: C
Provides depth. Probably just a camp body, could surprise.


Patriots Depth Chart

QB: Brady, Mallet
RB: Ridley, Blount, Bolden
3RB: Vereen, Washington
WR1: Dobson, Jones, Boyce
WR2: Amendola, Edelman, Vereen
TE1: Gronkoski, Ballard
TE2: Hernandez, Hoomanawanui

LT: Solder, Svitek
LG: Mankins, McDonald
C: Wendell, McDonald
RG: Connelly, Cannon
RT: Vollmer, Cannon

LE: Ninkovich, Buchanan, Francis
DT1: Wilfork, Kelly, Love
DT2: Armstead, Deaderick, Bequette
RE: Jones, Francis, Cunningham

ROLB: Hightower, Collins
ILB: Spikes, Fletcher, Beauharnais
LOLB: Mayo, Tarpinian, Collins

CB1: Talib, Dowling
CB2: Dennard, Ryan
CB3: Arrington, Cole

FS: McCourty, Gregory, Harmon
SS: A. Wilson, T. Wilson, Harmon
Name change? 04-27-2013 06:50 pm xxx.xxx.xxx6.52 (total posts: 1)
16     4

So with all the Rutgers players now on the Patriots roster, does that mean we could see them change the name of the team to the "New England Scarlet Knights"?
The 2013 Patriot Defense 04-27-2013 04:33 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.241 (total posts: 7)
115     5

LCB Talib, SS A. Wilson (2 Down), FS McCourty, RCB Dennard, WLB Mayo, MLB Spikes, SLB Hightower, LDE Ninkovich, DT Armstead, DT Wilfork, RDE Jones.

Solid depth to back this staring defense up; a defense I predict will be very good.

I know Ninkovich was the sacks leader, but I think he will be better suited to be a coverage LB on passing downs when the Patriots switch to a 3-4. This defense shows a lot of promise.
derek 04-27-2013 03:13 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.175 (total posts: 3)
4     5

really like the direction it seems the patriots offense is going in. I don't watch college football at all but looking at these highlight tapes of the 2 WRs, they both look big and physical. when they catch the ball they look to head up field and initiate contact with defensive backs, a far cry from brandon lloyds tendency to catch the ball and look for the sideline. now with 4 big physical receivers including the 2 tight ends (5 if you count the soon to be cut mike jenkins, the pats will be very dangerous in the red zone.

interested to see how jamie collins fit in the defense. I suspect he will come in on passing downs when the defense shifts to a 3-4 with wilfork in the middle of jones and kelly, and mayo and hightower in the middle of ninkovich and collins. i hope they let collins attack the qb and not exclusively drop into coverage as he seems very explosive off the edge.

the secondary selections i think are just depth, neither will compete this year for starting positions, maybe ryan will push dennard or arrington, but harmon will probably be buried behind mccourty, wilson, wilson, and gregory..i wonder how he is at gunner..
Harmon pick 04-27-2013 02:19 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.202 (total posts: 1)
53     26

Harmon is a reach no doubt but not necessarily becaue he's a bad player, but mainly because no one really had him rated this high. If you watch him, he's fast, big, hits really hard and first team all american in the big east. He was also a team captain and called the plays for his defense, while being a special teams ace at rutgers. He's a high character guy too if you read some of his interviews. Ultimately, Tavon Wilson last year was still a reach but he had 4 INTs and still contributed. This pick shouldn't be blasted that hard.
Run-DMG 04-27-2013 01:31 pm xxx.xxx.xxx4.11 (total posts: 5)
9     52

BB struggled at drafting tight ends before Gronkandez.
You are an idiot. 04-27-2013 01:17 pm xxx.xxx.xxx5.21 (total posts: 1)
96     18

just because they have drafted receivers poorly, it doesn't mean every one they draft is going to suck
Sabbath 04-27-2013 01:00 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.172 (total posts: 2)
84     12

Why is the grade for Dobson a C? It's a position of need for the Patriots. You simply linked him to failure due to the patriots history with WR draft picks instead of talking about the fit to the patriots.
colrainMAfootballfan 04-27-2013 12:19 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.171 (total posts: 2)
348     273

Walt, One question, did you watch tape on Harmon? Just because you and your internet buddies don't know anything about him doesn't mean he isn't a good ball player. Speak from an intelligent position not an ignorant one. What are his strengths? Weaknesses? You should know his weaknesses to conclude a Millen.
Laxative 04-27-2013 10:11 am xxx.xxx.xxx1.59 (total posts: 1)
31     27

I was OK with the picks until 91. They should have drafted Jesse Williams as a backup and potential successor to Vince Wilfork or Barrett Jones because they need help at guard and center. I'm afraid that the Patriot dynasty is coming to an end.
that guy 04-27-2013 09:27 am xxx.xxx.xxx.121 (total posts: 1)
3     6

I thought they reached at safety with Tavon Wilson last year. This pick is ridiculous though. Most draft experts didn't even have Harmon graded because nobody thought he would be drafted at any point. I doubt that he will even make the roster.
A GAMBLER 04-27-2013 07:29 am xxx.xxx.xxx.190 (total posts: 2)
17     29

Walts betting is a Millen Kielbasa up his @ss twice a week so he can take that than he must like it.
Brandon 04-27-2013 05:21 am xxx.xxx.xxx.172 (total posts: 2)
4     15

I can ONLY defend Duron Harmon if you think one team has him as a 5th round grade. Say the Patriots had him as a 5th rounder, but because they don't have a 5th round pick, they were forced to draft him because he was the best available on the board for them. Sure, you can move up from the 7th into the 5th, or you could trade back, but it takes two to tango.





2012 NFL Draft Grade: B-

Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft: New England's needs are pretty obvious. The team couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback last year, which impacted an already-lackluster secondary. It should be mostly defense here, with the occasional receiver or offensive lineman.

2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Patriots were infamous for trading down and stockpiling picks. Until now. They've changed their ways apparently - and understandably so.

Tom Brady will be 35 in August. His Super Bowl window is quickly closing. Unlike the Broncos, the Patriots understand that they need to acquire as much immediate help for their aging quarterback as possible. For Brady, that was pass-rushing assistance on the defensive side of the ball because he has the appropriate amount of weapons to work with on offense.

So, New England's plan was a great one. Its execution, however, wasn't very good. I liked the Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower selections, and Alfonzo Dennard was a mega steal in Round 7, but Bill Belichick made far too many reaches. Tavon Wilson, selected at No. 48 overall, shouldn't have gone until at least the fourth round. Meanwhile, Nate Ebner, as mentioned below, wasn't ranked anywhere.

Having said that, the Patriots still improved their roster and gave themselves a better chance of actually winning the Super Bowl this year.



2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

21. Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse: B+ Grade
The pass-rushers were flying off the board, so the Patriots made an unlikely move and moved up for Chandler Jones. I don't have much of a problem with this. In fact, I think this is a decent move because Chandler Jones could have gone as high as No. 12. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Bill Belichick's run of having two first-round picks will conclude in 2013.

25. Dont'a Hightower, ILB/DE/OLB, Alabama: B Grade
Dont'a Hightower is a really good football player who fits the range. I didn't think the Patriots would pick him, but it makes sense because Bill Belichick loves players with versatility. Hightower definitely has that; he can be used at inside linebacker or on the edge as a pass-rusher. Belichick will have lots of fun using Hightower all over the football field. If the Patriots didn't trade up, this might have been an A-.

48. Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois: D Grade
Whoa. Major reach. Tavon Wilson's rankings on various major draft boards: 254, 212, 216, 245, 182. Yeesh. I'd like to give Bill Belichick the benefit of the doubt, but it's not like he hasn't ever drafted a bust before. Why couldn't Belichick have traded down? He could have probably obtained Wilson in Round 3.

90. Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas: C Grade
Another reach by Bill Belichick, though this one isn't nearly as drastic. Jake Bequette can play in multiple spots in Belichick's defense, so New England drafting him shouldn't be much of a surprise - though it would have been better served in Rounds 4 or 5.

197. Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State: C- Grade
Nate Ebner was not ranked anywhere. Couldn't they have signed him on Sunday?

224. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska: A+ Grade
Alfonzo Dennard was a first-round prospect in the fall. He looked bad at the Senior Bowl, so he fell to Round 2. Then, he allegedly punched a cop. This is the penalty for punching a cop. He's definitely worth the risk in Round 7.

235. Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern: C Grade
Again, this is someone the Patriots could have obtained as a UDFA.



Season Summary:
What happened to the Tom Brady who drove pick-up trucks, had a huge chip on his shoulder and always won in the clutch? Say what you want about New England's defense, but the Patriots were in position to win Super Bowl XLVI. Brady had the opportunity to cement his fourth Lombardi, but came up short like he has in every season since he started dating supermodels and taping weird Uggs commercials. It's upsetting from a football fan's perspective.




Offseason Moves:
  • Patriots cut WR Chad Ochocinco
  • Patriots sign RB Joseph Addai
  • Patriots waive WR Tiquan Underwood
  • Patriots sign WR Jabar Gaffney
  • Patriots re-sign DE/DT Gerard Warren
  • Patriots announce retirement of OT Matt Light
  • Dolphins sign G Gary Guyton
  • Patriots sign C Dan Koppen
  • Giants sign CB Antwaun Molden
  • Patriots sign ILB Bobby Carpenter
  • Patriots sign FB Tony Fiammetta
  • Patriots re-sign QB Brian Hoyer
  • Patriots sign FB Spencer Larsen
  • Patriots re-sign WR Deion Branch
  • Bengals sign RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
  • Bills sign DE Mark Anderson
  • Patriots sign CB Will Allen
  • Patriots sign CB Marquice Cole
  • Patriots sign TE Daniel Fells
  • Patriots sign G Robert Gallery
  • Patriots sign WR Donte' Stallworth
  • Patriots sign WR Brandon Lloyd
  • Patriots sign DE/OLB Trevor Scott
  • Patriots sign WR Anthony Gonzalez
  • Patriots re-sign C Dan Connolly
  • Patriots sign SS Steve Gregory
  • Patriots re-sign WR/S Matt Slater
  • Patriots sign DE/DT Jonathan Fanene
  • Patriots re-sign OLB Tracy White
  • Patriots franchise WR Wes Welker
  • Patriots cut DE/DT Mike Wright


    Offseason Needs:
    1. Pass-Rusher: Make it two or three pass-rushers if the Patriots don't re-sign Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, who really stepped up in the playoffs. Bill Belichick will target players in free agency or the NFL Draft who can play in either scheme. Drafted Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette; signed Trevor Scott

    2. Two Wide Receivers: Wes Welker and Deion Branch are free agents. Chad Ochocinco will get a huge extension (OK, maybe not). But the Patriots have to bring in some talent at wideout. Brandon Lloyd will likely follow Josh McDaniels to Foxborough. Franchised Wes Welker; signed Brandon Lloyd, Donte' Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney; re-signed Deion Branch

    3. Defensive End: The Patriots can't count on Kyle Love or a 34-year-old Gerard Warren on the interior of their defensive line next year. Someone like Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers could suffice in the 2012 NFL Draft. Signed Jonathan Fanene; re-signed Gerard Warren

    4. Safety: New England's struggles versus the pass are well documented. The big problem is at safety, where Patrick Chung is the only viable option. Another player will have to be added via free agency because this year's rookie safety class is atrocious. Signed Steve Gregory; drafted Tavon Wilson

    5. Cornerback: The Patriots need more than just help at safety to fix their secondary. Another cornerback, perhaps a Day 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, needs to be acquired to complement Kyle Arrington and Sterling Moore. Devin McCourty and/or Ras-I Dowling might be moving to safety. Signed Marquice Cole and Will Allen

    6. Center: Both of New England's centers, including Dan Koppen, are set to hit the market. Re-signing Koppen will be key. Re-signed Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly

    7. Linebacker Depth: The Patriots have a bunch of linebackers headed for free agency, so depth could be an issue. Drafted Dont'a Hightower; signed Bobby Carpenter; re-signed Tracy White







    2012 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams. Age: 31.
      Signed with Patriots

      A legitimate No. 1 receiver, Brandon Lloyd has announced that he'll follow Josh McDaniels wherever he goes. That's a smart football decision, as Lloyd has thrived under McDaniels the past two seasons.

    2. Tony Fiammetta (RFA), FB, Cowboys. Age: 26.
      Signed with Patriots

      DeMarco Murray's production really dropped off when Tony Fiammetta was out of the lineup, and then it picked up once again when Fiammetta returned. Coincidence?

    3. Jonathan Fanene, DE/DT, Bengals. Age: 30.
      Signed with Patriots (3 years)

      Jonathan Fanene's best skill is stopping the run, as you might expect from a 290-pounder. He can also put some pressure on the quarterback, as evidenced by his six sacks in 2011. Unfortunately, he'll be 30 in March, so his best days are behind him.

    4. Robert Gallery, G, Seahawks. Age: 32.
      Signed with Patriots

      Robert Gallery used to be a very good guard, but various injuries have derailed his career. He could get healthy again, but then again, I could win the lottery tomorrow.

    5. Bobby Carpenter, OLB, Lions. Age: 29. -- Signed with Patriots
    6. Trevor Scott, DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 28. -- Signed with Patriots (1 year)
    7. Joseph Addai, RB, Colts. Age: 29. -- Signed with Patriots
    8. Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins. Age: 31. -- Signed with Patriots (2 years)
    9. Will Allen, CB, Dolphins. Age: 34. -- Signed with Patriots (1 year)
    10. Donte' Stallworth, WR, Redskins. Age: 31. -- Signed with Patriots
    11. Steve Gregory, S, Chargers. Age: 29. -- Signed with Patriots (3 years)
    12. Marquice Cole (RFA), CB, Jets. Age: 28. -- Signed with Patriots
    13. Daniel Fells, TE, Broncos. Age: 28. -- Signed with Patriots
    14. Spencer Larsen, FB, Broncos. Age: 28. -- Signed with Patriots (2 years)



    New England Patriots Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Wes Welker, WR, Patriots. Age: 31.
      Franchised by Patriots

      The top slot receiver in the NFL, Wes Welker is due for a big contract. He still has a few great years left.

    2. Dan Koppen, C, Patriots. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Patriots (2 years, $6 million)

      Dan Koppen performed very well in 2010, but missed most of 2011 with a fractured fibula. He turns 33 in September, which is the concern.

    3. Andre Carter, DE, Patriots. Age: 33.
      Andre Carter is getting up there, but he had a dominant year for the Patriots before landing on injured reserve with a torn quad. It was no surprise to see Carter thrive in the 4-3 again, which makes you wonder why the Redskins installed a 3-4.

    4. Mark Anderson, DE, Patriots. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bills (4 years)

      Bill Belichick helped revive Mark Anderson's career. The former Bear went from being an afterthought to a double-digit sacker. It's hard to trust him outside of New England's system though.

    5. Brian Hoyer (RFA), QB, Patriots. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Patriots (1 year, $1.92 million)

      The Patriots like Brian Hoyer, and I do too. I'd like to see him get a chance to start somewhere in 2013. For now, he'll continue to back up the Golden Boy.

    6. Deion Branch, WR, Patriots. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Patriots (1 year)

      Deion Branch is worth much more to the Patriots than he is to anyone else. He knows the system, and Tom Brady loves throwing to him.

    7. Gerard Warren, DT, Patriots. Age: 34.
      Re-signed with Patriots

      Gerard Warren had a great performance against the Broncos in the playoffs, but he'll be 34 in July.

    8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bengals (3 years)
    9. Gary Guyton, OLB, Patriots. Age: 26. -- Signed with Dolphins
    10. Matt Slater, WR/S, Patriots. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Patriots
    11. James Ihedigbo, S, Patriots. Age: 28.
    12. Dan Connolly, C, Patriots. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Patriots
    13. Antwaun Molden, CB, Patriots. Age: 27. -- Signed with Giants
    14. Tracy White, OLB, Patriots. Age: 31. -- Re-signed with Patriots (1 year)
    15. Chad Ochocinco, WR, Patriots. Age: 34. -- Signed with Dolphins
    16. Nate Jones, CB, Patriots. Age: 30.
    17. Shaun Ellis, DE/DT, Patriots. Age: 35.
    18. Niko Koutouvides, ILB, Patriots. Age: 31.
    19. Kevin Faulk, RB, Patriots. Age: 36.
    20. Mike Wright, DE/DT, Patriots. Age: 30.


    2012 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon



    Divisional Rival History:
    Buffalo Bills: Poor Bills. The Patriots have beaten them in 22 of the last 23 meetings, including the previous 17.
    Miami Dolphins: The Patriots used to have trouble with the Dolphins, but they've won eight of the past 10 meetings.
    New York Jets: Bill Belichick avenged his playoff loss to Rex Ryan, sweeping the Jets in 2011.



    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2012 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings


    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /




    2012 NFL Offseason Pages


    Fantasy Football Rankings - July 29


    2016 NFL Mock Draft - July 24


    2015 NFL Mock Draft - July 23


    2015 NBA Mock Draft - July 1


    NFL Free Agents


    NFL Picks - Feb. 2



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