...what do you think the next offseason will hold? Randy Moss, Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, Sammy Morris -- (all veteran free agents over the age of 30 with expiring contracts after 2010), and others such as Stephen Neal, Ty Warren, Tully Banta-Cain (if he can't perform well enough in 2010), James Sanders, and maybe even Tom Brady could all retire or sign a new contract with another football team. All of those guys are main contributors. Here's how I think things are going to go:
Randy Moss - Oh Moss, oh Moss. If he hadn't become so bitter over the last several months, I think the perception around here surrounding his future would be a lot more optimistic. The cash will rule him, a home town discount is nearly out of question it would seem. I like him, he is good, but he is probably not returning. I expect him to leave unless there really aren't many teams falling over to his demands.
Fred Taylor - Taylor can be a nice reserve and mentor to some of the other players coming in, but I think individually Fred Taylor is not one to endure an entire spring, summer, autumn, and winter of football grind. His body will tell him to shut it down after another season or two. I wouldn't be shocked if he decided to continue playing football through 2011 and with the Patriots, but I also wouldn't be shocked if he chose to hang up the cleats. A brilliant player nonetheless.
Kevin Faulk - The do-it-all professional. Faulk can certainly bang around for another year. But will he? I suspect a one year deal to close out what has turned into a terrific career for Kevin Faulk.
Matt Light - Matt Light is a funny guy and those types of people are always great to have around. Matt is also all about business and although he's not very old, I think his time with the Patriots is just about up. Unless he is very understanding of the uncertainty that looms over 2011, his role/value probably won't match the contract offer he's going to receive from opposing NFL franchises.
Sammy Morris - He's versatile and tough, but he is injury prone and losing his step. Morris looks like a goner after 2010.
Stephen Neal - Quite frankly, I'll be surprised if he doesn't retire. The team may want him for the second year of his deal, just because the depth looks grim at this point, but I say Neal will be driven to explore different facets of life, away from football.
Ty Warren - Has he still got it? Does he still have the passion to play, (nevermind the skill)? That remains to be seen. If he's fallen drastically off value relative to his pay, then I'd have to imagine he'll be a goner. At one point or another, I think he goes, but not during the 2011 offseason unless the hip surgery really does him in on top of other wear and tear.
Tully Canta-Cain - No way he'll be out of here before the NFL Draft. He signed a three year deal and he is a solid contributor, but for the sake of competition, Tully will stick around for probably one more year beyond 2010.
James Sanders - He'll be offered a reduction in salary on a shortened deal or be cut, and I tend to believe he'll be cut. Sanders is nothing more than an insurance piece incase one of the other safeties is out for a long period of time.
Tom Brady - He'll get his deal. The Patriots and Tom Brady will come to an agreement and the whole fuss over his return will finally settle down. Finally!
Other to-be free agents and miscellaneous cuts:
Laurence Maroney - Gone (just hasn't worked out, same sort of thing that happened with Ben Watson)
Alge Crumpler - Back (not retiring and if there is an option to pick up, I think both sides will mutually agree to pair up for another season of football.)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Back (cheap, he's hungry and dedicated and learning)
Mike Wright - Cut (at some point)
Jarrad Page - Back (dishing out a multi-year deal and some nice amounts of cash)
Tracy White - Gone (could go either way with this one but I'll say if he's signed back, he doesn't necessarily make the team)
Kyle Arrington - Back (easy little deal that Kyle would gladly take)
Ryan Wendell - Back (resigned and then will have to fight to remain on team like many others, ultimately I say he gets cut.)
Julian Edelman - New money (receives more cash to sort of reward his development and contributions; just money added to current deal basically.)
Logan Mankins - Back (yes, I'll go on a limb and say he realizes his situation, gets some good talking to, sincerely apologizes for trouble and frustrations with the Kraft's, fires agent, and seeks a new deal with the Patriots. Pats have renewed interest if Stephen Neal is to retire and the depth looks low on the team at the guard positions.)
Garard Warren - Back (hey maybe Warren has a good 2010, surprises some people and returns to a rotation along the defensive line?)
I'd like to see the Patriots pursue Jospeh Addai or DeAngelo Williams in free agency. Ahmad Bradshaw also intrigues me but I think the Giants will hold onto him and eventually dump Brandon Jacobs. Michael Bush (Oakland Raiders) is another runningback who might be a nice fit in New England and Bill Belichick might want that big bruiser for his team. I would be shocked if Kansas City managed to let Jamaal Charles go via trade or free agency, but he's still a guy who could be available in 2011. There are plenty of receiver options to choose from next year so I'm not worried about who's coming in or who's going because if there is a need, Bob Kraft, Nick Caserio, Bill Belichick, and Floyd Reese will operate accordingly. Let's hope Taylor Price can make the right adjustments to his game and be someone to rely on. Beating the press is his only real enemy at this point. The offense shouldn't change too much with Moss leaving (hard to imagine that right now I assume for many of you).
If Logan Mankins and/or Matt Light isn't able to resign (and/or if Stephen Neal is retiring), then finding replacements should be easy. Help from free agent's Evan Mathis (OL, CIN), Ryan Kalil (OG/C, CAR), Charlie Johnson (OT/OG, IND), Tyson Clabo (OL, ATL), Marcus McNeil (OT/OG, SD), or someone else could be on the way. College offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski from Penn State looks like a keeper, so maybe he'll be drafted to the Patriots with one of their early selections.
Along the defensive front 7, Tamba Hali (OLB/DE, KC) could be an interesting buy, but I think the Chiefs will be able to hold onto him. Tamba Hali is a very threatening power rusher off the edge from a standup position. He might be able to solve a number of teams pass rush problems, but with Belichick and the Patriots, resorting to the NFL Draft might be the best bet. There, I like Boston College's Mark Herzlich.
With more high draft picks and a lot of young guys flying around, the future might have great things in store for New England. But which veterans might not make it post-2010?