Apparently, we’re moving into full offseason mode at PatriotsBlog.net. That being said, here’s a quick look at all of the Patriots’ free agents (players who contracts expire after this season).
Harrison’s 2008 season was ended early due to a torn quad. However, he had looked really good before he went down. While some reports said Harrison’s injury could be career ending, I think Harrison may be open to a return as a first and second down player. Prediction: Resigns one year, 2 million contract
Wright came on really strong at the end of the season as a rotational player along the defensive line. Unfortunately, he injured himself in the game yesterday, and if it’s serious, I see the Patriots taking a wait and see approach. Prediction: Does not sign
Gaffney has really shown some flashes during his time with the Patriots. He has good versatility as he can play on the outside and in the slot. While he would be a good fit in a similar role next year, I think he might walk. Remember last year, he resigned for just one year so that he could work on his market value for the next season. Prediction: Does not sign
Unless the Patriots plan on using a high draft pick on a safety, I think James Sanders will be important to keep. He is really good in run support, and is serviceable in pass coverage. Sanders was a little bit up and down in 2008, but in the end, I think he resigns with the Patriots. Prediction: Signs 3 year, $8 million contract
The Patriots signed O’Neal at the start of the regular season to help bolster the Pats’ cornerback group. While I don’t think he was as bad as people made him out to be, he was abysmal at times. Therefore, I could see the Pats inviting him to training camp under a one year deal, but I don’t envision him on the 2009 regular season roster. Prediction: Signs one year, non-guaranteed, $1 million contract
Hochstein played a nice role as a rotational lineman and blocking fullback. I think he earned himself a new contract. Prediction: Signs two year,$1.5 million contract
There’s absolutely no reason for the Patriots to not resign Lonnie Paxton. He is one of the most reliable long snappers in the game. Prediction: Signs one year, $830,000 contract
The past year, the Patriots asked fullback Heath Evans to take on more of a traditional fullback role, a role in which he shined. He is a strong runner, a good blocker, and has decent hands. Prediction: Signs two year $2.5 million contract
Lamont Jordan’s power, one-cut, north-south running was truly a joy to watch. If the Patriots had made the playoffs, I think he would have had a very big role. While I would love the Patriots to bring Jordan back under a similar role, I have a feeling he is going to try to gauge his market value. Prediction: Unsigned
Hanson had a very up and down season in 2008. His best punt probably came against the wind in yesterdays game, where he booted a 46 yard punt that helped the Patriots take control of field position. It is really hard to project what will happen with Hanson. I think the Patriots will resign him, but I think he may have some competition. Prediction: Signs one year, $830,000 contract
Eric Alexander signed as an undrafted rookie free agent back in 2005. While he has had a strong presence on special teams, I see his tenure as a Patriot ending. Prediction; Unsigned
While Izzo is certainly getting up there in years, I think he is still valuable as the leader of the Patriots special teams unit. Prediction: Signs one year, $830,000 contract
Of all the Patriots’ 2008 signees, Lewis Sanders panned out the best. He is bigger and more physical than all other cornerbacks on the Patriots roster, even playing a little safety. Prediction: Signs 2 year, $2 million contract
The rotational offensive lineman for the Patriots didn’t show much this season. Prediction: Unsigned
While Woods has shown some flashes, he has also made a lot of mistakes, and his season ending injury won’t help his stock either. Also, Shawn Crable, who emulates much of what Pierre Woods can do as a pass rusher, will likely take over Woods’ role in 2009. Prediction: Unsigned
The defensive back / special teamer / wide receiver showed a lot of passion and versatility with the Patriots in 2008. He is a fan favorite, and I expect him to be back. Prediction: Signs one year, $430,000 contract.
The switch-tackle played really well in spot duty this season. I certainly think he earned himself a new contract, and I think he may become a starter sometime down the road. Prediction: Signs three year, $3.5 million contract
Gutierrez has shown some flashes as a backup quarterback showing the ability to put some zip on his throws. While he could be brought back if Matt Cassel walks, I wouldn’t expect him to be resigned. Prediction: Unsigned
I think that Colvin continued to look better and better as the season winded down. I would certainly welcome him back as a Patriot, considering his potential value as a speed pass rusher for the Patriots. Still, for some reason, I don’t think a deal will get done. Prediction: Unsigned
Seau has continued to impress despite the fact that he will be 40 next month. He plays with unmatched intensity. I think it is truly remarkable that he could come in, be out of football for nearly a year, and play at the same level. Seau hasn’t ruled out playing an extra season. He is a natural leader, and I think bringing him back would be the best decision. Prediction: Patriots take wait and see approach, sign to a one year, $830,000 contract before training camp, or possibly a pro-rated contract later in the year.
Cassel is the one people really just want to hear about. Matt Cassel had a remarkable season in 2008, and will likely be a high profile starting NFL quarterback for years to come. With Tom Brady’s health still up in the air, the Patriots may look to resign Cassel with the franchise tag. I am in the strong minority, but given Cassel amazing progress throughout the season, I think they need to consider making him the quarterback of the future, IF Tom Brady won’t be ready for the start of 2009. Prediction: Signs franchise tag… after that, who knows. But multiple media outlets are reporting that the Patriots are strongly considering using the tag on Cassel.