2013's Free Agents
It's way too early to start thinking about where next year's crop of free agents will land, but how will some of the benchmark contracts handed out this offseason affect rosters at the end of the year? Everyone knows (most) teams draft with an eye towards the future; some clubs will reasonably draft and groom replacements on year in advance. The market for wide receivers looks particularly crazy, and cornerbacks such as Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr got paid big bucks as well.
The Patriots have four major free agents whose contracts expire at the end of the 2012 season: WR Wes Welker, OT Sebastian Vollmer, OG Brian Waters, and S Patrick Chung.
Chung is a restricted free agent, so he should be back after being tendered at the first-round level. Marcus Cannon is presumably being groomed to replace either Waters or Vollmer, but another offensive lineman could be in order if the Patriots deem Vollmer too expensive to retain (or if he gets injured again.) Welker deserves a two or three-year deal but the team could investigate options there as well if they are not confident in Julian Edelman's ability to replace Welker. So for New England, another first-round offensive tackle is a potential surprise pick.
How does your club look?