Who will stay and who will go? A look at the Patriots roster

After a disappointing end to the 2009 season, the Patriots are left with what ifs and what should've beens instead of preparing for a matchup with San Diego.  As you've seen in the MSM over the last few days, everything from Belichick's overloaded to hire an OC has been floated as possible causes for the 33-14 dismantling by the Baltimore Ravens, a microcosm of the season as a whole.  We all kept praying, homerism fully in tact thank you, that some old mojo would work its way back into this franchise and they would rise to the occasion, just like the old days, but it wasn't meant to be.  This team was too fractured, there were too many holes to be filled.  Like death by a thousand BBs (the small, round pieces of metal shot from a gun, not Bill Belichick), there were too many places needing tending.

The players whose contracts expired in 2009 are:

Name  Signed Thru  Salary  Prorated signing bonus amortization
Kevin Faulk  2009 $2,900,000 $497,000
Jarvis Green  2009 $2,500,000 $600,000
Stephen Neal  2009 $2,500,000 $800,000
Vince Wilfork  2009 $2,200,000 $633,332
Leigh Bodden  2009 $2,250.00   
Logan Mankins  2009 $1,400,000 $800,000
Derrick Burgess  2009 $2,000,000   
Joey Galloway (Released)  2009 $1,150,000 $600,000
Pierre Woods  2009 $1,545,000   
Ben Watson  2009 $910,000 $526,666
Stephen Gostkowski  2009 $1,010,000 $106,250
Junior Seau  2009 $1,145,000   
Chris Hanson  2009 $745,000 $50,000
Gary Guyton  2009 $385,000 $6,000

I've highlighted the players I think MUST be retained and italicized the ones I'm on the fence about.  Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal are, in my opinion, expendable.  However, I don't think Hoodie can, nor will he, gut his offensive line.  As questionable as I think their performances have been this year, they could fill a spot as a warm body.

Chris Hanson?  There's punters everywhere and I don't think his performance has been all that stellar; at least, it's not making me stand up and shout.  Derrick Burgess?  When was the last time you heard, "What a sack by Burgess!!  He's unbelieveable!"  Brought on to be our sack king, he's been anything but; Tully Banta-Cain is the guy I'd hang onto.

Kevin Faulk is, well, Kevin Faulk.  Sure, he's pushing 34 but how many more veteran leaders is this organization going to jetison?  I say hang onto him.  As far as Jarvis Green, we need all the experienced defensive linemen we can get, especially after Richard Seymour was sent to the hell known as the Oakland Raiders.

Leigh Bodden has, in my opinion, distinguished himself as a necessary cog in the 2010 Patriots plans.  Shawn Springs has not impressed me and our rookies (Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite) need a vet to keep things in line.  Big Benjamin Watson has shown he has the stuff to pull Tom Brady out of a jam.  And with the receiving corp thinning, I hope Kraft and company looks to Watson to, dare I say it, adopt a Colts-like Dallas Clark role.

Stephen Gostkowski is a guy we need to hang onto as well.  Maybe his numbers weren't as stellar as last season's, but he's got experience in the system (like that matters for kickers ;-)) and he's quite simply a darn good kicker.  Pay the man, please.  Gary Guyton?  He showed his mettle when starter Jerod Mayo was knocked out of commission in our MNF against the Bills.  We always need journeymen linebackers and Gary is one of those guys.

I've saved the best for last: the big man, Vince Wilfork.  Myron Pryor did an admirable job of subbing for the injured Wilfork, but those are some big shoes to fill.  Vince is considered one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the business and he's even MORE valuable considering he can take on a skill defensive tackle role and move around the line.  PAY.THE.MAN!!  He's already said he doesn't want Albert money, so my guess is he's looking for long term.  Kraft and Hoodie are notorious for not paying and tossing out talent because of a few million.

Hindsight's 20/20 and all the prognosticators will tell you the shine has left the organization, the mystique is gone.  Maybe it's simply taken a hiatus and needs a bit of a retooling.  An OC, some vets, and some top dollar rookies may just do the trick.

Who's your magic list of people to re-sign?  Are there any FA's out there you'd be willing to pay for?  How about some up-and-coming rookies?

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