!Zuri Berry of the Boston Globe writes that re-signing RT Sebastian Vollmer should be the Patriots "No. 1 priority" in free agency this offseason. "Assuming Vollmer returns, the Patriots would have its starting offensive line intact," adds Berry. "That's a worry the Patriots wouldn't have going into the draft and training camp, a drastic change from a year prior when the team was installing a new center, right guard and left tackle." Wide receiver Wes Welker and cornerback Aqib Talib will also become free agents at 4 p.m. on March 12 -- among others.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com projects that a contract in the range of two years at $16 million for impending free agent Wes Welker is something that the Patriots would be agreeable to. "I'd think we're looking in the range of two to three years, and, probably more so than years, it's guaranteed/bonus money that would be the key," writes Reiss.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe believes that Patriots RB Stevan Ridley needs to improve on his pass-catching ability. "If Ridley is going to become a three-down back, he's also going to have to work on his pass catching," writes Bedard. "He had two drops on just eight catchable passes [last season]." Ridley finished seventh in the NFL with 1,263 rushing yards in 2012.
Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets that Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez has rented a place in Manhattan Beach, CA in order to take part in workouts with Tom Brady this offseason. Breer also notes that Hernandez will work with Brady's personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, who oversaw knee rehab for both Brady and Wes Welker in years past.
Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com reports that the Patriots have questions about how Aqib Talib would handle a long-term deal. Talib, who is scheduled to become a free agent in March, reportedly passed on the chance to do extra work at times this year, according to a source. "However, considering the dearth of cornerbacks on the open market, Talib is likely to receive lucrative offers -- perhaps as much as $8 million or $10 million per season on a multiyear pact -- when he becomes a free agent," adds CSNNE.com.