Taking stock of Patriots pending free agents


The Patriots have 18 players set to become free agents on March 12.

The most impactful players on the list are wide receiver Wes Welker, corner Aqib Talib and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.

Other key guys include corner Kyle Arrington, running back Danny Woodhead and receiver Julian Edelman.

Wideout Deion Branch, safety Patrick Chung, defensive end Trevor Scott, corner Marquice Cole, guard Donald Thomas, special teamerslinebackers Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides are in the next tier.

Safeties Will Allen and Josh Barrett, wide receiver Donte' Stallworth and cornerback Derrick Martin are lower-priority players.

The Patriots have two restricted free agents, Dane Fletcher and Michael Hoomanawanui.

Both Arrington and Branch told me their preference is to remain here in New England. Branch said that, if he doesn't reach accord with the Patriots to come back, he is interested in still playing and feels he has "two or three years left."

The most intriguing decisions to be made are with Welker and Talib.

If the Patriots were to franchise Welker again, the period to do so will begin two weeks after the Super Bowl on February 18.

The feeling here is the Patriots will pass on franchising Welker and try to work out a two or three-year deal with him.

As for Talib, his rookie contract is ending and he'll likely be interested in trying to see what's out there financially before re-signing with the Patriots.

Both Welker and Talib may find a down market for their services.

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