DEVIN MCCOURTY- (safety) Of the free agents, I think Devin McCourty is the most important puzzle piece. Besides being a completely likable person, he is a great player. In his 5 years in a Patriots uniform he has 18 interceptions, 8 forced fumbles and over 400 tackles. Back in 2012 when he was frequently returning kickoffs he took one 104 yards for a score. Personally, I'd like to see him get a long term deal sooner than later. Worst case I think the Patriots should use the franchise tag in order to make the numbers work.
JONATHAN CASILLAS - (linebacker) I haven't really gotten attached to Jonathan Casillas and don't think the Patriots will miss him. The role he played on the Patriots could be filled by a younger player who will make half of his salary.
AKEEM AYERS- (outside linebacker/defensive end) As a mid-season pickup via a trade with the Titans, Akeem Ayers positively impacted the team and genuinely appreciated the opportunity to play for a winner. Assuming he isn't expecting an unrealistic contract, keeping an athletic 6'3" 25 year-old pass rusher around for another year or two is never a bad thing. With an offseason in the Patriots' system he could reach his potential on the field next year.
SHANE VEREEN- (running back) I want Shane Vereen back in a Patriots uniform and think the Patriots will re-sign him. Vereen is not your typical running back and is integral to the Patriots' offense. He is a first down waiting to happen.
CHRIS WHITE- (inside linebacker) Primarily a special teams player, I don't see the need for the Patriots making him an offer.
DANNY AIKEN- (long snapper) After Aiken had enough struggles this season for the Patriots to bring Charley Hughlett back to the practice squad after Thanksgiving, I'm thinking Danny Aiken's days in a Patriots uniform are over. It is worth noting that one of the best long snappers in the college game is Naval Academy graduate Joe Cardona.
BRIAN TYMS- (wide receiver) With only two years under his belt, Tyms is an exclusive rights free agent. According to Miguel Benzan, Brian Tyms can be signed by the Patriots for a mere $585,000 cap number. I think the Patriots will bring him back and should. After scoring two touchdowns in the preseason (9 catches for 163 yards), Tyms missed the first four weeks of the regular season when he had to serve a 4 game suspension for taking Adderall. In his first game back he had his lone regular season touchdown on his longest reception of the season (43 yards). Although he didn't make that much of a splash during the season, I think his attitude and athletic ability will give him another season in New England.
JAMES DEVELIN- (fullback)- He's a role player who "does his job" and a few things that might not be in his job description. Brady thinks he's the best fullback in the league. James Develin doesn't get paid much, is an exclusive rights free agent and should return.
GREG ORTON- (wide receiver) If healthy he would be cheap labor. Was on the IR all of last season. Most of his professional football experience is from the arena league. He was on the Broncos' practice squad before coming to the Patriots. I don't think Patriots have a need for the 28 year old.
SEALVER SILIGA- (defensive tackle)- Played hurt and well at the end of the season. Sealver Siliga just underwent surgery on his foot. Patriots will bring him back.
JAMES MORRIS- (inside linebacker)- Another player who was on injured reserve for the season. James Morris played his college ball in Iowa and recorded 107 tackles, 8 sacks and 4 interceptions his senior year. I say he's a keeper.
STEPHEN GOSTKOWKSI- (kicker) Patriots should try and re-sign him to a multi-year deal. If they can't come to agreements and don't have to use the franchise tag on McCourty then they should use it on Stephen Gostkowski . While Gostkowski is the man, there are several up and coming kickers with big legs who are stewing in college right now.
DAN CONNOLLY- (guard) If Dan Connolly is brought back, his contract needs to be heavy on incentives. Chances are Connolly will be the veteran sacrificial lamb this off-season.
ALAN BRANCH - (defensive tackle) If we can pick Alan Branch up on the cheap side it could be well worth it to see what he can do with more time in the playbook and being in game shape.