Free Agency 2012: What the Patriots Have Done

The Patriots have been extremely active this off-season, while still putting together an extremely solid free agency period. Here's what's happened:

Tender DT Kyle Love - Love is one of the crucial pieces of the Patriots defensive line and the Patriots were able to bring him back (not that there were any real questions).

Tender QB Brian Hoyer - Hoyer is the team's back-up quarterback and lots of people speculate that he is one of the more sought after quarterbacks of this off-season.

Sign DL Jonathan Fanene - Fanene should take on a Mike Wright/Gerard Warren type role on the defense as he can play any spot on the defensive line. He's a stud run defender who can rush the passer on occasion. Look for him to be a top member of the rotation.

Re-Sign STers Matthew Slater, Niko Koutouvides, and Tracy White - The Patriots are getting their incredible special teams coverage unit back together. Slater is a captain and leader, while both Koutouvides and White provide depth at linebacker.

Sign S Steve Gregory - Gregory should step up as a starter at the safety position across from Pat Chung. At the very least, he provides an additional body in the secondary and a strong special teams player. At the best, the Patriots have a former cornerback-turned-safety who can cover in the slot and can play free safety.

Re-Sign OC/OG Dan Connolly - Connolly is one of the best back-up interior linemen in the league and has been able to save the Patriots on numerous occasions. He can start if needed and will most likely end up as the center for the upcoming season.

Sign WR Anthony Gonzalez - Gonzalez is an injury-prone receiver, but has extremely high potential. He's been brought in with an expected low risk contract and, at the least, adds valuable depth to the Patriots extremely weak receiving corps.

Sign OLB Trevor Scott - Scott is a low risk/high reward type of player like Gonzalez and is coming off an ACL injury of his own. Scott showed potential as a rookie and sophomore and should provide insurance behind Rob Ninkovich and in case Mark Anderson doesn't sign back with the team. In addition, he is a solid special teams player.

Sign WR Brandon Lloyd - Headline signing. Lloyd should be the Patriots #2 wide receiver and he's the offensive weapon on the outside that the Patriots desperately needed. He's a big pick-up and, if he is successful, he has stepped up the Patriots offense to a new level.

Add in that the Patriots have franchised Wes Welker, although they haven't yet reached a contract extension.

Here's a list of the remaining Patriots free agents:

Top Free Agents

OLB/DE Mark Anderson - Top pass rusher available, he's asking for a little too much money for the Patriots' liking. Generating a lot of interest.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis - BJGE has some offer, but has indicated he wants to return to the Patriots.

Rotational Free Agents

S James Ihedigbo - Solid special teams player and depth safety, it's sort of assumed the Patriots will bring him back in a depth role.

Elderly Free Agents

WR Deion Branch - Branch could return as the #3 receiving option behind Welker and Lloyd on a one year deal and I wouldn't be surprised.

DE Andre Carter - Carter will have to heal before the Patriots sign him, but he wants to come back.

C Dan Koppen - Koppen should find a job with some other team; I think he's done with the Patriots.

RB Kevin Faulk - I'd expect Faulk to sign a one year deal to retire during the off-season.

DT Gerard Warren - Should be back on another one year deal as he stepped up during the post-season and adds valuable depth on the defensive line.

DT Shaun Ellis - Should be gone.

Roster Bubble Free Agents

CB Antwaun Molden - Should be gone; could return as a potential free safety transition.

DB Bret Lockett - Already gone.

CB Nate Jones - Should be gone.

ILB Gary Guyton - Should be gone.

So I see the Patriots bringing back Ihedigbo, Branch, Warren as definites, as well as Faulk as a retiree. I also see BJGE returning to the Patriots and Carter being cleared later in the off-season. I would like to see Anderson back with the Patriots, but I just can't wrap my ahead around everything falling the Patriots way this free agency and I see him going elsewhere.

So what do you think? How have the Patriots done so far?

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