First in a ten part series that ranks the Patriots top offseason moves.
This offseason, the New England Patriots brought in a lot of veteran players who weren't necessarily the "big names" on the free agent market. For one reason or another, these veterans weren't in line for big contracts on the open market. There's a very good chance that the bulk of the veteran pick-ups that the Patriots brought in won't even make the roster (Anthony Gonzalez, for example, has already been released). But in all likelihood, at least a few of these guys will make the roster, and they will likely be contributors.
While I will highlight some of the bigger pick-ups in future rankings, the #10 Patriots Offseason Move will be reserved for the veteran additions who didn't get the most sizzle when they were first signed. These are players who aren't locks to make the roster, but for those who do, they could end up being the key "depth guys" that separate championship teams from the rest of the pack. That being said, the rest of this article will highlight a few of the depth pick-ups that could end up being key additions for the Patriots.
Robert Gallery, T: The former top five draft pick likely won't start for the Patriots, but he has the potential to be a quality back-up at both guard spots, as well as right tackle.
Will Allen, CB/S: While age isn't on Allen's side (turns 34 in August), he proved to be a valuable contributor from the slot cornerback / star position for the Dolphins in 2011. He could also be a factor at safety for the Patriots.
Bobby Carpenter, LB: Carpenter was already running with the first unit at mini-camp, and if the Patriots run the 4-3, the former Cowboys' first round pick has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots if necessary.
Trevor Scott, DE/OLB: Scott was emerging into a viable pass rush specialist for the Raiders, until tearing his ACL midway through the 2010 season. If he can return to that 2009 form, he could really help the Patriots up front.
Joseph Addai, RB: While Addai hasn't hit the 1,000 yard mark since 2007, he adds an experience veteran presence to the Patriots running back corps, with Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen expected to carry the load in 2012.
Daniel Fells, TE: While Fells isn't a top-tier NFL talent, he's a solid #2 NFL tight end who will be the #3 tight end behind Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but should see his fair share of snaps in 2012.
Marquice Cole, CB/ST: Under-the-radar special teams stud for the Jets, who saw little playing time on defense.
The bottom line: While the Patriots won't be counting on all these players to make the big plays every game or even make the 53, if only a few of them can contribute as players 35-46 on the game day roster, then I think that the Patriots' offseason approach of signing a high quantity of low-risk, high-reward "depth" veterans will have paid off.