The Patriots have been one of the most active players through the first five days of free agency. They've re-signed key special teamers Matthew Slater, Niko Koutouvides, and Tracy White. They've assured themselves a starting caliber center with versatility in Dan Connolly. They've added depth to their defensive line and defensive backfield with the additions of DT/DE Jonathan Fanene (Bengals) and safety Steve Gregory (Chargers). They added a couple of low-risk, high-reward players in WR Anthony Gonzalez (Colts) and DE/OLB Trevor Scott (Raiders). Then, to top it all off, they added the deep threat wide receiver that they really needed when they agreed to a contract last night with former Broncos and Rams receiver Brandon Lloyd.
All of this being said, the Patriots are far from over when it comes to 2012 NFL Free Agency. Here are 10 questions still facing the team during this period:
1. Will the Patriots add another safety? LaRon Landry was in for a free agent visit on Saturday, and it looks like the Patriots will be looking to add another safety in addition to Steve Gregory.
2. What happens with pass rushers Mark Anderson and Andre Carter? Both had ten sack seasons, both would like to return. The Patriots likely take a wait-and-see approach with Carter as he recovers from a quad injury. With Anderson, the two sides have been working towards a deal but apart on the numbers as he has begun lining up free agent visits.
3. Will BenJarvus Green-Ellis be re-signed? I think he returns, but the sides have yet to agree to a deal. He will visit with the Bengals on Monday. If he doesn't return, Patriots will have a hole to fill at running back.
4. Does Brian Hoyer sign an offer sheet? Hoyer is apparently shopping himself around to other teams to gauge his value as a starter. I don't think he signs an offer sheet, but it is a situation worth watching.
5. Do the Patriots add a third tight end? According to multiple reports, tight end Daniel Fells will meet with the team on Monday. The Patriots could use an extra traditional tight end that compliments Aaron Hernandez similar to the way Alge Crumpler did in 2010.
Questions 6-10 after the jump!
6. Will Deion Branch return to the Patriots in a reduced role? Deion Branch wants to retire a Patriot but is still a free agent. With Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez in the fold, Branch's only opportunity to return to the club could be in a reduced role with a reduced contract.
7. Will the Patriots agree to a contract extension with Wes Welker? Although he's been assigned the franchise tag, he still isn't under contract. The sides want to agree to an extension, but there isn't anything imminent yet. My guess is that both sides will want some kind of conclusion to the situation sooner rather than later.
8. Will the Patriots look to add any interior line depth? Dan Connolly could very well be the starter at center next year, but the Patriots could still seek to add another body along the interior line (especially if they would prefer Connolly be a pivotal three-position back-up). Incumbent starter Dan Koppen is still available as an unrestricted free agent.
9. Do the Patriots add any more defensive pieces? We already asked about the safety position, but the Patriots could also use another body at CB. In addition, while Fanene and Scott are nice additions to the front seven, the Pats could look for another high-upside body to give a chance.
10. What about the other guys? James Ihedigbo, Kevin Faulk, Gerard Warren, and several others are still free agents for the Patriots. The team will likely have to make decisions on those players in the coming weeks.