DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Andre Carter #93 of the New England Patriots is helped onto a cart after an apparent injury while playing against the Denver Broncos on December 18, 2011 during the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
The Patriots have been wheeling and dealing all offseason, and have signed more unrestricted free agents from other teams than any other club in the NFL. That being said, the Patriots still have a number of their own free agents remaining (nine, to be exact). Here's a run-down of what could happen with those players:
James Ihedigbo, S: The Patriots appeared to be close to a deal with Ihedigbo before free agency began, but nothing came of it. I still think he'll be back on a one or two year deal. Ihedigbo is solid as a blitzer and in run defense and is an above-average strong safety on 1st and 2nd downs, as well as an excellent special teams player.
Kevin Faulk, RB: If the Patriots don't draft a running back in the draft, Kevin Faulk could be given one more shot to try to make the team, assuming he doesn't retire. The Patriots have Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen on top of the running back depth chart, but could easily add a camp body or two.
Gerard Warren, DL: Warren is a big body who can push the pocket and has been serviceable for the Patriots the past two seasons. He'll likely return to compete for a roster spot on a one year deal at some point.
Nate Jones, CB/S: Jones was barely serviceable during his short time with the Patriots in 2011. The team could bring him back to compete for a roster spot, but I think both sides will move on.
Shaun Ellis, DL: The common thought is that both Ellis and the Patriots are ready to move on following a 2011 campaign from Ellis that failed to live up to expectations. Ellis did play better down the stretch, so perhaps if he has no other suitors, he returns on a one-year reduced contract in 2012 with a chance to compete for a spot.
Dan Koppen, C: The Patriots haven't ruled out bringing Koppen, their starter at center since 2003, back into the fold. That being said, the team forked out starter's money to Dan Connolly, and would likely only bring Koppen back at a hometown discount.
Antwaun Molden, CB: The Patriots haven't shown much interest, if any, in bringing Molden back in 2012. He has received interest from several teams, so I wouldn't expect him back in a Patriots uniform.
Andre Carter, DE/LB: Carter is without a doubt the highest profile Patriots free agent remaining. He's recovering from quad surgery, and is a ways off from being healthy. Nonetheless, with pass rush counterpart Mark Anderson departing for Buffalo, re-signing Carter has become that much more important for the Patriots. I believe a one year, incentive-based deal should get the job done.