First, is cornerback Aqib Talib, who checks in at number four on the list:
The Patriots are rolling the dice a bit with Talib, but they could emerge looking awfully smart. They'll let him hit the market, gambling that corner-needy teams will instead focus on players with cleaner off-field histories at free agency's deepest position. Expect Talib to be disappointed with offers elsewhere and ultimately re-up in Foxboro at a team-friendly rate.
Silva predicts the Patriots to re-sign Talib on a four year, $30 million cornerback. While that contact seems "awfully smart" from Silva's perspective, I have some doubts that the Patriots would go to four years on Talib. There's still considerable risk in such a deal. The only real long term deal I see the Patriots striking with Talib is a long term deal with an option after one year - similar to the deal the Patriots struck with Donte Stallworth back in 2007. If it works out, then the Patriots can pick up the option and have Talib longterm. If it doesn't, both sides can choose to part ways after one more year and move on.
Silva has offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer checking in at number 15 on his list, predicting that he re-signs with the Patriots on a five year, $36 million deal:
Primarily a right tackle in New England, 28-year-old Vollmer's value is enhanced by his capability of adequately protecting the blind side. Lean and athletic at 6-foot-8, 315, Vollmer would be coveted on the market even after arthroscopic knee surgery. The Pats are unlikely to let him get there, prioritizing Vollmer over Talib and Wes Welker.
With all of his health issues, I'm not sure I see the Patriots going five years with Vollmer. He's certainly one of the most talented tackles in the game, and this contract would make him one of the more highly paid right tackles in the game (close to left tackle money), and I'm just not sure the Patriots will get into a bidding war for his services.
Silva also has receiver Wes Welker in his top 20 - checking in at number 17:
Although they eventually leaned on him due to Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman's injuries, the Pats opened last season essentially phasing Welker out of their offense. It's probably a sign of things to come. Welker is 32 and not under consideration for New England's franchise tag. The Patriots simply don't value him as highly as it seems like they should.
Silva predicts the Bears to land Welker on a three year, $27 million deal. At that length, it's hard to imagine the Patriots matching. Personally, I feel like three years is appropriate. However, if I had to guess, I don't think the Patriots would go above two years and about $18 million.
Finally, Silva does have one free agent in his top 50 land with the Patriots from another team - Ravens safety Ed Reed, who ranked at 32 on his list:
Reed played last season on a $7.2 million salary. If he really wants another Super Bowl ring, he'll have to take less. Going on 35 and entrenched in his decline phase, Reed may only have a year or two left. A mutual admirer of Pats coach Bill Belichick, Reed spoke of signing with New England in January and there's a good chance that dream will become reality.
Silva predicts the Patriots to sign Reed on a one year deal worth $5.5 million. That seems appropriate to me.
What do you think of Silva's predictions? Do you think the "big three" free agents are ranked too high?