Mike Reiss explains the next item of business for the Patriots will be to place tenders on their restricted free agents -- Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski and Pierre Woods.
The offers can be at one of four levels. The higher the level, the higher the compensation another team would have to award the Patriots for signing the player away (if the Patriots decided not to match the offer). The levels are broken down this way:
1) Original draft slot
2) Second-round draft choice
3) First-round draft choice
4) First-and-third-round draft choice
Tendering Gostkowski at the second-round level ($1.7 million) seems like the more likely course of action. It would be surprising if another team signed him to an offer sheet when the compensation would be a second-round pick.
Mankins is the team's best offensive lineman and my feeling is to eliminate any risk of possibly losing him.
On Woods, the danger of tendering him lower than a second-round pick is that he would essentially become an unrestricted free agent because he entered the league as a rookie free agent.
The Patriots have incredible flexibility entering the draft with four selections among the top 53 slots. They can go any direction they choose, but will Bill Belichick keep his picks or barter them? The Patriots have tweaks to make all over the place, particularly on defense. Fortunately for the organization, Belichick has a much better success rate when it comes to identifying defensive players early. Some of the Patriots biggest draft mistakes on Belichick's watch have been on offense. They found a keeper with left guard Logan Mankins, but didn't connect on such prospects as tight ends Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson and receivers Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson. Running back Laurence Maroney has been a contentious pick, too.
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- Ian Rapoport notes this is the last day to exclusively negotiate with unrestricted free agents, meaning Leigh Bodden, Tully Banta-Cain, Kevin Faulk, Ben Watson and Stephen Neal could hit the market.
- Mike Reiss knows a big portion of Pats' focus in free agency figures to be on re-signing their players, and tells fans to expect the unexpected.
- Albert Breer notes the Patriots approach to free agency will be under a lot of scrutiny. It's not about how much they spend, it's about how they spend it.
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- Tim Graham (ESPN) AFC East: Free-agency primer.
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