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New England Patriots UFAs - a who's who of guys you'd want to keep

On a typical day, I peruse Marima's most excellent links posts. I have said many times that I must be careful or the 15 hours worth of reading material may get me fired from my "day gig". Alas, so much to read and so little time. As is customary, every so often I read one of the stories and get semi bent out of shape. Such is the case with the most recent links post and link about our current crop of Unrestricted Free Agents. Here's Marima's link and quote:

Ian Rapoport reports the Patriots are in a holding pattern with many, if not all, of their free agents.

Coach Bill Belichick told at least two of his players without contracts for 2010 that he will address their status in early February, sources said. Barring an unexpected turn of events, the belief is the rest of them also received that message.

The team has nine unrestricted free agents, including nose tackle Vince Wilfork, cornerback Leigh Bodden, tight end Benjamin Watson, defensive end Jarvis Green and running back Kevin Faulk. Guard Logan Mankins and kicker Stephen Gostkowski, both Pro Bowlers, will be restricted free agents if, as expected, there is an uncapped year.

Players such as Bodden, Green and Faulk have said they would like to return to the Pats. Wilfork, who huddled this week with his camp to create a plan for the offseason, may be hit with a franchise tag. It’s a designation he does not want.

Take a gander at the list for a second: Wilfork, Bodden, Watson, Green, Faulk, Mankins, and Gostkowski. Let's leave the big man out of this for a second and go player by player:

  • Leigh Bodden - He's the only cornerback in the stable you could term a "play maker". Shawn Springs was rather ineffective and 2nd year guys Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite didn't really hold their own. Hopefully Darius Butler can get up to speed, but he's not a star by any means (Darrelle Revis anyone).
  • Benjamin Watson - Do you remember the MNF season opener against the Bills? Yeah, I thought you did. Watson has been fairly consistent throughout the season. If he's not blocking, he's pulling down some pretty hairy passes. We need a good receiving tight end.
  • Jarvis Green - In a move to get maximum value out of a player hitting 30, DE Richard Seymour was shipped west to the hell hole that is Oakland. Do we really want to risk losing another experienced DE, especially one as good as Green.
  • Kevin Faulk - Yeah, Kevin's getting on in years but let's face it: he doesn't play every down nor is he considered a workhorse kind of guy. When he's on the field for a third down conversion, the rival fanbase goes silent.
  • Logan Mankins - I'm on the fence about Mankins. I can take him or let him go.
  • Stephen Gostkowski - Really? Lock this guy up. Do we really want to be scouting the free agency market for a guy of G man's caliber?

Now, for the big man. It's entirely possible Hoodie and Kraft will franchise Wilfork. In fact, I think it's a given. If they haven't figured out their contract differences by now then they probably won't; Kraft has a history of cutting guys loose who want to get paid (Asante Samuel anyone?). Wilfork wants to stay. He proved himself this year by bouncing around the line when asked to do so; a versatile guy if ever there was one. Forget franchising Vince and sign the man. He's been nothing but a class act this whole season and should be treated as such.

Bill, if you're reading this don't let these guys go. Don't be a penny pincher and lose some real talent. This team needs all it can get.