Free agency could hit Patriots hard, Giants not so much


The Giants have a lot of celebrating ahead of them, and the Patriots have a lot of second-guessing and what-iffing to contemplate in the coming days and weeks.

But the season is over for both teams, and free agency looms on March 13. Let’s have a look at notable expiring contracts for each club:

Giants impending free agents: Receiver Mario Manningham, tackle Kareem McKenzie, cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross, defensive end Dave Tollefson, punter Steve Weatherford, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, safety Deon Grant, linebackers Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn, guard Stacy Andrews, quarterback David Carr, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, offensive lineman Tony Ugoh, defensive backs Derrick Martin and Justin Tryon, kick returner Devin Thomas, and punt returner Will Blackmon.

For the most part, the Giants’ free agents are bottom-of-the-roster types whom G.M. Jerry Reese may attempt to replace in the draft. Though he’s coming off an ACL injury, Thomas may be a priority to re-sign, particularly if Ross tries to strike it rich on the open market. The G-Men may look to get younger at McKenzie, Grant, and Bernard’s positions. Manningham is the prize of the Giants’ 2012 free agent class, and figures to move on to a club offering him a starting job.

Patriots impending free agents: Receiver Wes Welker, defensive ends Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, receiver Deion Branch, running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk, guard/center Dan Connolly, defensive linemen Gerard Warren and Shaun Ellis, linebacker Gary Guyton, returner/receiver Matt Slater, defensive backs James Ihedigbo, Antwaun Molden, and Nathan Jones, and linebackers Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides.

The Pats are in danger of losing some big-time players. Welker will probably be franchise tagged, but Anderson and Carter were the club’s top two pass rushers in 2011. Green-Ellis was New England’s leading rusher. Connolly is a key and versatile cog on the offensive line. The Patriots will likely try to find a superior vertical threat than Branch. Chad Ochocinco wasn’t the answer and will likely be released.

45 responses to “Free agency could hit Patriots hard, Giants not so much

  1. Ocho will be cheap. Let him look at the playbook for another summer and he will be a suitable replacement for Grant

  2. dont see Welker leaving, i think Anderson may stay. Carter may walk, but i dont know if it will kill them. they may also keep Branch. as for the Giants, i think one of those corners NEEDS to be chased after by Washington. Washington needs a CB to replace Hall and Washington would offer Ross or Thomas a huge contract so if i am them, i also look at Washington. i dont see Manningham being a Redskin, though Carolina should look into him.

  3. Somebody is going to over pay for Manningham. He is no better then a # 3 WR.

    Biggest thing with the Giants will be Osi. Going to be interesting to see what happens with him.

    I can’t wait to see Marvin Austion (2nd round pick) this year get time at DT.

    GMEN need to address OL and a pass catching TE in draft.

  4. Patriots are going to have to spend dough for FA since the AFC won’t be as easy to get through next year.

  5. Giants keep Thomas, Tollefson, Weatherford (no WAY they let him go), Goff, and Blackburn. Would like to see them keep Manningham, but as others have said, someone will overpay him. Maybe the Giants can get a “hometown discount”? Doubt it, but we’ll see.

  6. manningham? gone

    jacobs? gone

    osi? stays

    ross? gone

    thomas? going nowhere

    tollefson? would love to keep him but he can start elsewhere easily

    mckenzie? meh

    the rest are replaceable. g-men need to draft offensive linemen and a tight end who can complement ballard.

  7. I respect both of them for their achievements and remember reading this BS on twitter yesterday-
    Parcells voted down because of vocal minority which said he had not won SBs w/o Belichick.
    I hope some clown does not give the same logic that Belichick is 0-2 in SBs w/o Romeo Crennel & Charlie Weis.

    An important aspect of good coaching is to surround yourself with good staff whom you can trust in doing their jobs well.

  8. I dont want to see Welker in a Pats uniform again. He can take his padded stats somewhere else.

  9. For the sake of the NFL I hope the Patriots roster gets fleeced. What’s the point of the Patriots costing 10-14 teams valuable wins in the regular season and occupying valuable playoff spots, only to put out lackluster efforts year in and year out. the Patriots since 2004, have become the new age Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s.

    Patriots step aside and let a new AFC team have a shot. You’ve proven once again you’re a waste of everyone’s time to be in the playoffs.

  10. I love Ross because he helped us win 2 SB’s but as a Giant fan let another team take him. I much rather resign Terrell Thomas and let Prince move up the chart. As a defensive back the less you hear their name during a game the better, how many times do you hear Webster’s name a game– zero, how many times do you hear Ross- 7 to 10 times

    As for Bernard we have Austin and for Manningham let him walk and lets use the money to lock up Osi and Cruz— something tells me after this year Steve Smith will be running back into the Giants arms for the vet min.

  11. I think a few guys who post here think Chad will be in big demand. According to two Pats fans and one Eagles fan, he was going to be this game’s MVP. Where are you boys? Come on out and take a bow for being such brilliant football minds!

  12. The difference is, a lot of the guys on the Pats roster aren’t talented enough to get big deals elsewhere, and even if they did most of them are going to prefer to stay in New England anyway. I can’t see Welker accepting any offer except the Patriots’, barring it not being #1 wide receiver money from some other club.

  13. Manningham will be replaced by Jerrigan, Giants will let Ross walk and sign Thomas. Osi will bitch but be back. Jacobs will redo his deal to stay and Grant will be replaced by Sash or hopefully Chad Jones makes a full recovery. Giants wont lose too much talent and get better with all the guys coming back healthy..

  14. This couldn’t be more wrong. Welker will be back. Every single one of the other players mentioned is a league-average player and entirely replaceable. The Patriots are in a position where they have to upgrade the roster on the defensive side of the ball through the draft and free agency. They need to create roster spots to do so. Anderson or Carter could be back, but the rest of those guys are addition by subtraction.

  15. Fins fan here, but also an Ole Miss fan, (Hotty Toddy, Go Eli!) so I love Green-Ellis. But on another team in another system, he’s nothing in the NFL.

  16. Pats have 2 1sts, 2 2nds and 2 3rds; don’t they? Let’s hope they keep trading down and drafting Gurads and CBs.

  17. P.S. You folks saying Manningham shouldn’t be re-signed are crazy. He’s the perfect combo on the outside with Nicks. He’s easily the fastest guy on the team and super clutch.

  18. This is pretty weak reporting. Bradwins is right.

    Welker will be back (via franchise tag or contract)

    Anderson and/or Carter could be back – they haven’t had as much success in other systems and Anderson especially could use another year or two in the Patriots’ system to prove this year wasn’t a fluke.

    BJGE and Faulk are replaced by Vereen and Ridley, which are probably upgrades. With Woodhead, they probably just to get a cheap veteran journeyman.

    Branch has lost a step and isn’t going to another team in FA. He’s either going to take a cheap contract to be a 4th WR or retire.

    Guyton, Nathan Jones, Koutouvides, Warren, Ellis got minimal snaps.

    Ihedigbo, Molden were on the scrap heap able to claimed by anyone this year.

    Slater isn’t a returner (as you listed) and he’s not really a receiver he’s their best gunner, but he won’t get big bucks on the market.

    I guess that leaves Connolly, and the expectation is that they draft a center. He still wouldn’t be that expensive. They did well when Connolly was injured this year, so while he’s helpful, he’s not exactly Gronkowski, Hernandez, Mayo, Wilfork, Chung, or McCourty.

  19. Patriots are overrated. I wouldn’t take any of them, unless you include the Patriot Refs like Walt Coleman. They would be great additions to any team.

  20. If they use their 4 picks in the first two rounds wisely, not trading down/out, the Patriots will still be a tough out

    add Lloyd for Branch, keep Welker, develop Ridley and Vareen, draft a pass rusher on day 1, keep Anderson or Carter, replace or re-sign Connelly

  21. – how many superbowls have the patriots won since they got caught cheating? Oh that’s right, ZERO!!!

  22. swagger52,

    I’m sure you wouldn’t want any players from the team that has won more games over the past 5, 7, 8, 10 years (take your pick) than any other.


    I’m okay if they trade down and pick up more players. I know it doesn’t look great now, but they got Vereen for trading down with New Orleans last year and essentially have the same pick (#28 becomes #27 a year later I think). That’s one less pick we have to use this year for another RB.

    I say sign Branch as a 4th-5th WR (replacing Underwood, Ochocinco – he’s good depth), get Lloyd (as you mentioned), franchise Welker (if necessary), draft a center and pass rusher in the first or 2nd (they have four picks and I’m assuming they trade out on 1).

    Then I’d look to fill in another TE… if basing your offense on TEs, you need to have a backup plan for injuries (as we found out tonight). Also, I’d look for a young WR (they could use some new blood there) and DB (they went through a lot of people at safety and CB this year).

    I hope they can sign Anderson and Carter. I think they can considering how they really helped their careers and showed how they can be productive in the system.

  23. If nothing else, the Super Bowl showed that the Patriots are severely lacking playmakers on offense. Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski are great underneath and down the seam, but none of those guys can stretch the defense. And obviously if any of them is not able to play 100%, it has a HUGE effect on the offense.

  24. Doesn’t look like many big losses on New England’s side either. Welker won’t be going anywhere, though it would be wishful thinking on my part. Carter should be brought back but the rest of the FA’s were vets who were signed on one year deals. They can find the same types next season, but it would be smarter to address these positions in the draft.

    Branch may come back on the cheap, but they should be in the market for another WR regardless. Also, losing Green Ellis isn’t a big deal. He’s not that great, just runs in a straight line and gets short yardage TD’s. Someone will overpay him because he played for the Pats and he’ll go the way of many others who became irrelevant after leaving.

  25. Anderson and Carter are only significant if they decide to go with the heavy dosage of even fronts that they did this past year. If the percentages slide back to a bit more odd fronts (fully acknowledging that all teams run even AND odd fronts during the season, just talking about how often), it wouldn’t surprise me if they decided to let Anderson and/or Carter go.

    Welker’s the one big key for them, and I think they’ll do what it takes to bring back Branch, as Brady trusts him. It wouldn’t stun me if BGE and Faulk were both let go – they did draft Ridley and Vereen last year. That said, Ridley did fumble a bit when he was in there, so if BGE comes at a reasonable price, I think they’d bring him back. Connolly’s important, but I think they’ll look to draft a young interior lineman this year, so how important may depend on what they do with Koppen and Waters.

    Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if Slater or Ihedigbo were valued quite highly by them. They seem to like Slater a fair amount, and Ihedigbo was the leader of a shaky defense, particularly with Chung out for part of the year.

    Really, for all the talk about the guys that are impending FA’s, we need to keep in mind that the Pats are willing to move on from vets (Warren was cut after camp iirc), so if guys want too much, I think they cut bait. Only Welker seems like the one must have. Furthermore, they have 2 firsts and 2 2nds, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they dealt down from the Raiders spot in the first to pick up more picks/future picks. Also wouldn’t surprise me if they dealt Brian Hoyer this offseason if a team offered a solid enough return, and gave Mallett the number 2 spot next year (and it wouldn’t surprise me if they took a “future” for Hoyer).

    I look for them to add another CB to the group, probably through the draft. Wouldn’t surprise me if McCourty moved full-time to safety next year, giving them a rangy guy to go with Chung. I think they might look for an edge guy, and a guy who looks, on paper, as a great fit is Cam Johnson of UVA (former DB, rush backer under Groh, learned to play as a DE under London). DL depth may be sought. Interior OL and a deep threat at WR look like the other focus areas.

  26. In Jerry Reese We Trust. I don’t care who stays or goes, we will be in good shape. The only two guys who appear to TRULY be on their way out are Jacobs and Umenyiora — and even Osi may return. Someone may overpay for Manningham, but the decision is his: money or a potential repeat?

  27. Outside of Welker, Green-Ellis and Anderson, I don’t see this as a big problem. Some like Warren were waiting around the phone when we called them. We’ve got a nice core of D linemen, and Spikes and Mayo are the two linebackers we really need to keep and we have them under contract. I think Lloyd would be an upgrade to Branch. We need a secondary and that would solve many defensive problems. I’m looking forward to having Josh back calling plays, we blew it today with playcalling. It’s not wise having a shorttimer running your offense…

  28. I’d honestly let Welker walk if I’m the Pats. That, or franchise him and trade him fleecing another team. I’m not saying this because he failed to clinch the game at the end, but he’s easily replaceable. I’ve been saying he’s overrated for years now. Slot receivers are interchangeable. Put Edelman in his spot and he’d be putting up similar numbers.

  29. Yeah, Patriots could really be in trouble. A shame they didn’t bring 11 undrafted free agents into the Superbowl and don’t have a coach that is capable of owning the NFL draft…

  30. ihatetheeffingjets says:
    Feb 5, 2012 11:42 PM
    I dont want to see Welker in a Pats uniform again. He can take his padded stats somewhere else.


    If anything, it’s Welker that pads Brady’s statistics in New England’s small ball offense!

  31. @patsfanbrian

    You know whats funny? You say he is no “Gronkowski, Hernandez, Mayo, Wilfork, Chung, or McCourty”, yet, even with the above mentioned, you still lost the SuperBowl.

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