Breaking down 2012 Patriots free agency

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Breaking down 2012 Patriots free agency

Longing for an orderly list of NFL free agent dealings? Pro Football Weekly, in its all-knowingness, did the dang thing.

The list is long -- organized by position -- so let's boil it down to Patriots players.

QUARTERBACK
Brian Hoyer - Restricted Free Agent, New England - Re-signed to a one-year, 1.927 million contract on March 23.

RUNNING BACK
Joseph Addai -- Cut by Indianapolis March 9 - Signed with New England May 5 to a one-year, 1.069 million deal.
Kevin Faulk -- Unrestricted Free Agent, NE -- ?
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Unrestricted Free Agent, NE -- Signed by Cincinnati on March 21 for three years, 9 million.

FULLBACK
Tony Fiammetta - UFA, Dallas -- Signed by NE March 26 for one year, 615,000.
Spencer Larsen - UFA, Denver -- Signed by NE to a two-year, 1.7 million deal on March 22.

WIDE RECEIVER
Deion Branch - UFA, NE - Re-signed March 22 for one year, 1.325 million.
Jabar Gaffney - Cut by Washington May 1 - Signed by NE May 2 for two years, 2.3 million.
Brandon Lloyd - UFA, St. Louis - Signed by NE March 17 for three years, 12 million.
Matthew Slater - UFA, NE - Re-signed March 14 for three years, 5.4 million.
Donte' Stallworth - UFA, Washington - Signed by NE March 19 for one year, 875,000.
Tiquan Underwood - Cut by NE May 3 - Signed by Tampa Bay May 7, two years.
Wes Welker - Franchise Free Agent, NE - Tagged May 15 for one year, 9.515 million. (Deadline for multi-year extension: July 16.)

TIGHT END
Daniel Fells - UFA, Denver - Signed by NE for three years, 5.25 million on March 19.
OFFENSIVE GUARD
Robert Gallery - Cut by Seattle - Signed by NE

CENTER
Dan Connolly - UFA, NE - Re-signed for three years, 9.7 million on March 15.
Dan Koppen - UFA, NE - Re-signed April 13 for two years, 3.05 million.
Jamey Richard - UFA, Indianapolis - Signed by NE May 25 to an undisclosed deal.

DEFENSIVE END
Mark Anderson - UFA, NE - Signed by Buffalo March 21 to a four-year, 19.5 million deal.
Andre Carter - UFA, NE - ?
Shaun Ellis - UFA, NE - ?
Jonathan Fanene - UFA, Cincinnati - Signed by NE March 14 to a three-year, 12 million
Trevor Scott - UFA, Oakland - Signed by NE March 17 for one year, 1.15 million.
Gerard Warren - UFA, NE - Re-signed April 31 for one year, 925,000.

LINEBACKER
Bobby Carpenter - UFA, Detroit - Signed by NE April 5 to a one-year, 775,000 deal.
Gary Guyton - UFA, NE - Signed by Miami to a one-year, 765,000 deal on April 13.
Niko Koutouvides - UFA, NE - Re-signed March 13 for one year, 825,000.
Tracy White - UFA, NE - Re-signed for one year, 990,000 on March 14.

DEFENSIVE BACK
Will Allen - UFA, Miami - Signed by NE March 21 for one year, 1 million.
Marquice Cole - RFA, not tendered by Jets - Signed by NE March 19 to a one-year, 650,000 deal.
Nate Jones - UFA, NE - ?
Steve Gregory - UFA, San Diego - Signed by NE March 15 to a three-year, 7.05 million contract.
James Ihedigbo - UFA, NE - ?
Antwaun Molden - UFA, NE - Signed by Giants to undisclosed deal.

The current 90-man roster could change dramatically between now and August 31's final cuts, but one thing is for sure: there's been an influx of possible impact UFAs brought in this offseason.

New England has largely backed off top-tier free agents since the 2007 Adalius Thomas signing -- five years, 35 million with 20M guaranteed -- fizzled out.

Things have changed over just one season.

Consider this: 2011's regular season roster had 30 Patriots draft picks and just 13 players acquired as UFA. There are now 34 picks and 24 veteran free agents (including only signed players, so no Carter, Ellis, etc.).

Who sticks and who goes? It will all shake out over the coming weeks. New England certainly has more talent to choose from.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track. 

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.