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On March 1, 11 active players on the New England Patriots will become unrestricted free agents. With the current CBA ordeal, it’s uncertain whether there will be a 2011 season, but teams still will have the rights to sign and draft players.
Of the 11 unrestricted free agents, five started at least one game in 2010. Both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Josh Barrett are restricted free agents, meaning that the Patriots can receive compensation if another team decides to sign one of the players, and the Patriots refuse to match the contract offer.
Kevin Faulk | Shayne Graham | Matt Light | Logan Mankins | Brandon McGowan | Sammy Morris | Quinn Qjinnaka | Jarrod Page | Fred Taylor | Gerard Warren | Josh Barrett | BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Gerald Warren: Many were surprised when Bill Belichick and his staff decided to bring Gerard Warren in last season. Surprisingly, Warren played well in spurts. Warren filled in nicely for the injured Ty Warren and because of that, Warren should be brought back next season.
Matt Light: Light’s been a mainstay on the left side of the Patriots’ offensive line since he entered the NFL in 2001. Light wants to stay in New England and the Patriots need his services. At 32-years-old, Light is on the latter part of his career, so look for the Patriots to draft a young tackle to learn behind the 3-time pro-bowler before Light retires.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Heading into the 2010 season, Green-Ellis was the fourth running back on the depth chart. All Green-Ellis did was rush for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns by the conclusion of the regular season. Although the Patriots may look to upgrade the running back position through the draft, re-signing Green-Ellis will be a top priority for the staff. However, if another team offers Green-Ellis a contract, the Patriots could consider a compensation draft selection that could be around the 3rd-5th round range.
Brandon McGowan: The University of Maine alum had a productive 2009 season before missing the entire 2010 campaign. With Brandon Meriweather’s inconsistent play, keeping McGowan seems like a great move. The decision by the Patriots will come of the basis on how much Josh Barrett is favored by the front office.
Quinn Ojinnaka: Depth along the offensive line is always needed, especially at the tackle position. Ojinnaka will come at a cheap salary and he provides New England with a familiar body up front.
Kevin Faulk: Unfortunately, it looks like Faulk’s successful NFL career will officially come to an end. The 34-year-old back from Lafayette, La., is one of the most productive running backs in Patriots history. That is not anything new for Faulk, as he is considered the best running back to ever play for LSU. Yet, coming off an ACL injury is no easy task considering Faulk’s age. While the Patriots would love to have Faulk back in uniform next season, look for Faulk to hang it up this off-season.
Shayne Graham: Following starter Stephen Gostkowski’s injury, Graham stepped in and performed well, as he connected at a perfect 100 percent rate — minus two missed extra points. With Gostkowski set to come back in 2011, there isn’t a spot for Graham, but he will have a chance to compete for an NFL team this summer.
Logan Mankins: The 2010 season was an eventful one for the Patriots’ best offensive lineman. Mankins held out for the first eight weeks of the season before coming back and starting against Cleveland. After playing in just nine games, Mankins made the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career. As things currently stand, the relationship between Mankins and the Patriots is far south. It doesn’t appear that the 2005 first round pick from Fresno State will re-sign with New England, but there is some speculation that the Patriots use the franchise tag on Mankins.
Sammy Morris: Over the last two seasons, Morris’ role has diminished so drastically that Morris finds himself exclusively on special teams . While he does provide a great locker room presence and someone to look up to for Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, Morris simply doesn’t have any value for the Patriots.
Jarrod Page and Josh Barrett: If either has a shot of re-signing, it is Barrett. Page scarcely played toward the tail end of the regular season, while Barrett was out for the entire season. The fact that Belichick and company decided to claim Barrett from Denver knowing he wouldn’t play a down this season shows that Barrett may be someone Belichick likes and will keep around.
Fred Taylor: Talk about a free-fall. Taylor did not do a thing last season after getting injured yet again. Without a doubt, one of best running backs in NFL history will be out of New England come March.