Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com takes a look at the positions where the Patriots are the deepest heading into the 2013 season. Yates lists defensive end, running back, and tight end as the team's positions of strength. "With Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots have two quality starters on the edge of their defense," notes Yates on the defensive end outlook. "Add in depth with players such as Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis, and 2012 third-round pick Jake Bequette, and the Patriots have five players who project to be on the 53-man roster again next season. If recent pick-up Armond Armstead proves to be more of an edge player than an interior lineman, the group grows stronger."
Christopher Price of WEEI.com gives his free agent snapshot of wide receiver Danny Amendola. Standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 186 pounds, Amendola will be 27-years-old heading into training camp. Why would the Patriots be a good fit? "If you look at the pre-Patriots stretch of Welker's career, he didn't turn into the receiver that is until the age of 25 when he caught 67 passes for 687 yards for a Dolphins' team that finished 6-10. He then took that to the next level when he joined the Patriots - at the age of 26, he caught 112 passes," writes Price. "If there's one guy out there who appears poised to continue on the same sort of career path, it's Amendola, particularly if the Patriots decide to move on from Welker this offseason."
Mary Paoletti of CSNNE.com writes that former Patriots NT Ron Brace has signed with the Washington Redskins. Brace, a Springfield, Mass. native, was released by the Patriots in December after playing 92 snaps over the course of the 2012 season. "A second round pick by New England in 2009, Brace had plenty of appeal for power at 6-3, 330-pounds," writes Paoletti. "But even moving around from backup nose tackle to defensive end in a 3-4, and then back to D-tackle in a 4-3, he still never found a great fit in four seasons with the Patriots."
Adam Schein of NFL.com lists his top underrated free agents. The list begins with Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, who Schein believes is a player that can still be a threat to force fumbles and sack the quarterback. "I bet the Connecticut native and Syracuse alum wouldn't mind playing for the New England Patriots or New York Giants," he adds.
James Walker of ESPN.com gives Wes Welker a 30% chance of receiving the franchise tag from the Patriots this offseason. "A second straight franchise tag will increase Welker's number to $11.4 million. I think that is too much to pay for one year," writes Walker. "The Patriots will keep that option in their pocket in case of an emergency, but there's probably a 50-50 chance right now that Welker stays in New England via a multi-year contract. A two- or three-year extension for $7-8 million seems reasonable for both sides. If not, Welker may test the open market."