It is rumored that the Patriots already have a plan to replace Wes Welker after not applying the Franchise Tag to him this season if they cannot come to a deal. It is also reported, however, that they are coming close to a deal since both sides knew that they were better with each other than without. Supposedly, they are looking to acquire Danny Amendola who is a slot receiver from the St. Louis Rams. Amendola missed 5 games last season but still caught 63 passes for 666 yards and 3 scores. Danny Amendola is 27 years old and most likely won’t want to return to the awful Rams if he has a chance at a Super Bowl ring. Danny is 4 years younger, and 2 inches taller than Welker. Do you think they will go through with this?
The Patriots defensive line played better than most had expected coming into the season last year and at times was a bright spot for a primarily bad defense. Andre Carter was a great surprise and played exceptional prior to his season ending knee injury. Mark Anderson proved to be a great signing considering once Carter went down he stepped right in and ended the regular season with 10 sacks. Both Carter and Anderson will be free agents this offseason so keeping both seems rather unlikely. If healthy Carter is the more likely signing but as players age injuries like Carter suffered are much harder to bounce back from. Shaun Ellis and Gerard Warren are also free agents and I don’t expect the Pats to hang on to either, as they are both far past their prime. The anchor of the defensive line is obviously big Vince Wilfork and he will certainly maintain that role next year. Kyle Love and Brandon Deadrick have both been great surprises for the Pats, but they are not exactly quality NFL starters. Through the recent years the Patriots been reluctant to use first round picks on defensive lineman, but I expect that pattern to change this year. Of course if the Pats make a move prior to the draft and sign a top-tier free agent to play defensive end then they will more than likely shy away from defensive lineman in the first couple rounds. There are many quality options this offseason so talent certainly won’t be the issue. Some of the possible Patriots options are as follows.
Mario Williams: Obviously this signing would be a huge stretch, and with a young and very talented Texans team Williams might be more willing to stick around. He would certainly help turn this defense around who ranked 31st in yards against last season. Williams would be used as a hybrid D-Line / Outside Linebacker for the Patriots.
Robert Mathis: Mathis is a great pass rusher with Pro-Bowl talent and would be a huge upgrade for the Pats. Mathis is more likely to leave Indy seeing as they are clearly about to begin their rebuilding process and when that occurs the veterans usually are not a part of their plans.
Aaron Smith: Smith might stay put in Pittsburgh but this would certainly be a viable option for the Pats. Belichick loves to stack depth at the defensive line position with veterans so this would certainly be along the lines of a typical Patriots signing. Smith has shown he can get after the QB.
Other possible options:
The Patriots least famed position over the past decade has certainly been the running back position. With Kevin Faulk set for retirement, the only other question mark in the backfield goes to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis has proven himself to be a consistent runner for the Pats and I expect him to re-sign here in the New England. I think Benjarvus knows his value is at its peak here in New England because of the mixture of players they throw out there every Sunday. The Pats also have Woodhead, Ridley, and Vereen under contract going into next season and seeing as the latter two were both 2011 draft picks I don’t expect this to be a position the Patriots address on draft day. There’s a slight possibility the Pats could try to pick up a veteran back but I also don’t see that happening if they keep Green-Ellis. If for some reason they let Green-Ellis walk, then you can expect the Pats to take a look at some of these options…
Peyton Hillis – Hard Runner, coming off a very tough season. Could be a low-risk high reward signing.
Cedric Benson – This is definitely a stretch for the Pats, but at the same time I don’t expect him to be in Cincy next year.
Ryan Grant – Not really an every down back anymore but can certainly take over Green-Ellis’ roll at a similar price.