Wes Welker hasn't signed his Franchise Tag offer yet, despite telling the team he was interested in…
Patriots Free Agency Update
1. Defensive end/outside linebacker: New England needs to add youthful impact players on the edge. Mark Anderson and Pro Bowler Andre Carter tied for the team lead with 10 sacks last year, but both are free agents and Carter is coming back from a torn quad. Even if one or both of the veterans return, a developmental playmaker is a necessity on the edge.
2. Defensive back: Devin McCourty clouds New England's needs in the secondary a bit. A Pro Bowl corner as a rookie in 2010, McCourty struggled mightily last year and was actually moved to safety late in the year. If he stays at safety, the Patriots could be in the market for a top-end cornerback prospect. Either way the team needs to add talent to a safety position that was a major hole throughout 2011.
3. Wide receiver: Tom Brady's receiving corps is aging and lacks an outside presence. In a draft full of big, speedy, outsider receivers, New England needs to go after one even after adding Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: WR Wes Welker (tendered at $9.515 million).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DE Mark Anderson had a career resurgence to tie for the team lead with 10 sacks, his first double-digit sack effort since his rookie season in 2006 in Chicago. The Patriots have been trying to build a pass rush for a couple years, so re-signing Anderson would be a palatable option. But the team can't overpay for a complementary pass rusher like it did a few years back with Tully Banta-Cain.
--WR Deion Branch has watched his role diminish over the last two years with the emergence of the two tight ends, but he could be back at a reasonable price if the Patriots are unable to nail down a legit No. 1 receiver.
--DE Andre Carter suffered a season-ending injury toward the end of the year, but had a breakthrough season prior to that, which should earn him a sizeable pay day this offseason. The two sides have already discussed an extension.
--DE Shaun Ellis did not fit in defensively throughout most of the year, and his playing time suffered because of it. Highly unlikely he re-signs with New England.
--RB Kevin Faulk had a hard time handling the workload this year after returning from the physically unable to perform list and was ultimately phased out of the offense to the point where he was inactive for the Super Bowl. He's expected to retire, but no announcement has been made yet.
--RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has developed into the team's most reliable ball-carrier for his ability to pick up the tough yards and exceptional ball control. He's yet to fumble in the NFL. Expect to see him in New England next year.
--LB Gary Guyton watched his role reduce dramatically this season and likely won't return next season.
--S James Ihedigbo filled in nicely with all the injuries the Patriots suffered in the secondary, but he has limited ability and won't be back unless it's for cheap money.
--CB Nate Jones was a late-season fill-in for Phillip Adams and probably won't be back unless no one else signs him this winter and he's invited to camp in the summertime.
--C Dan Koppen missed most of 2011, though he hopes to re-sign with the team. This is a dicey proposition. The Patriots got by without him last year and might decide to go with a younger, cheaper and healthier alternative for the long haul.
--CB Antwaun Molden dealt with some injuries toward the end of the year, but should be in the mix next season given the team's lack of a true shutdown corner. Like most free agents, he'll be back at the right price.
--DL Gerard Warren wasn't as productive this year, but he provides a veteran presence. If he doesn't retire, he could return for cheap money.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--S Bret Lockett (not tendered as RFA) is a physical specimen, but he can't stay healthy. He'll probably be at camp this summer, but it's a long shot he makes the final cut unless he's 100-percent healthy.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--QB Brian Hoyer (tendered at $1.927M with second-round pick as compensation) has been Tom Brady's backup for the past three years, so it's likely he'll stay in New England.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--DL Kyle Love should be back next year since he is an exclusive rights free agent, and it would only cost $540,000 to keep him at the minimum salary for third-year players.
--OG Dan Connolly: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Niko Koutouvides: Potential UFA; $825,000 1 yr.
--WR Matt Slater: UFA; $5.4M/3 yrs, $2M SB.
--LB Tracy White: UFA; $990,000/1 yr, $300,000 guaranteed.
--DE Jonathan Fanene: UFA Bengals; $12M/3 yrs, $3.85M guaranteed.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez: UFA Colts; terms unknown.
--SS Steve Gregory: UFA Chargers; $8.5M/3 yrs, $3.35M guaranteed.
--DT Marcus Harrison: FA; terms unknown.
--WR Brandon Lloyd: UFA Rams; $12M/3 yrs.
--DL Trevor Scott: UFA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--OG Rich Ohrnberger (released/failed physical).
--DE Mike Wright (released/failed physical).
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NFL Free Agent News
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