Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Resetting roster and free agents
By Mike Rodak
With less than two months until free agency begins, coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the rest of the New England Patriots front office will begin the process of evaluating their current roster and building their squad for next season.
At the moment, the following players have expiring contracts and are set to become free agents in March:
Quick hit: Free agency could hit the Patriots hard at two positions: wide receiver and cornerback. It's likely that there will be turnover at these positions, even if the Patriots are able to retain two of their top free agents, Welker and Talib.
Quick hit: Both of these players should be back in the mix for next season.
The Patriots currently have 54 players under contract for the 2013 season. The offseason roster limit is 80, so the Patriots will have more than two dozen open spots.
QUARTERBACK Personnel:Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Mike Kafka Quick hit: One offseason storyline will be if any teams show interest in Mallett, who earned the backup quarterback job this season despite completing just 49 percent of his passes in the preseason. Kafka, who signed a future contract earlier this month, is a developmental project.
FULLBACK Personnel:Spencer Larsen, James Develin Quick hit: The Patriots stocked up at this position last offseason, but things didn't pan out with either Larsen or Tony Fiammetta, who remains on the "left squad" list. Larsen could get another shot to make the team next season.
WIDE RECEIVER Personnel:Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Slater, Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Ebert, Andre Holmes Quick hit: The thinnest position on the roster entering the offseason. Lloyd is the only true, veteran receiver of the group. If the Patriots decide not to franchise Welker and can't retain him, there will be an alarming need for talent here.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE Personnel:Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Markus Zusevics, Kyle Hix Quick hit: If the Patriots are able to re-sign Vollmer, this position will be in good shape heading into next season, depending on how the team evaluates Cannon as their top backup for another season.
CORNERBACK Personnel:Alfonzo Dennard, Ras-I Dowling, Malcolm Williams Quick hit: There's always the possibility that McCourty returns to cornerback, but the Patriots will need to add some talent at this position. Re-signing Talib would only be a start. Anything the Patriots get from DowLing at this point would be a bonus.
SAFETY Personnel:Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner Quick hit: McCourty helped shore up this position in the second half of the season and could remain at safety. The odds are against Chung returning, but it will have little effect on the depth chart, with Gregory and Wilson likely remaining part of the mix.
SPECIALISTS Personnel:Stephen Gostkowski (K), Zoltan Mesko (P), Danny Aiken (LS)
Quick hit: Belichick likes continuity at these positions, and he could be looking at a third consecutive season with this group together.