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Taking a look at the NFL calendar for the next six months

02.20.12 at 5:20 pm ET
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Here’s a quick look at the NFL calendar over the next six-plus months:

Today: Teams can begin applying franchise and transition tags to players.
Feb. 22-28: NFL combine (in Indianapolis).
March 5: Deadline for teams to apply franchise and transition tags.
March 13: Free agency begins at 4 p.m.
March 25-28: NFL owners meetings (in Palm Beach).
Mid-April: Offseason programs begin (teams can hold a maximum of 10 OTAs during the offseason).
Late April: 2012 NFL schedule is announced.
April 26: First round of 2012 NFL draft.
April 27: Second and third rounds of 2012 NFL draft.
April 28: Rounds 4-7 of 2012 NFL draft.
Late July: Training camps across the league begin.
Early August: 2012 preseason begins.
Sept. 6: 2012 NFL regular season begins.

Resetting our ‘Free Agent Snapshot’ series

02.20.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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We started our free-agent snapshot series last week, and here are the players we’ve profiled to this point:

Defense
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan
Cornerback Brent Grimes

Offense
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne
Offensive guard Carl Nicks
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd

We have another 10 possible free-agent possibilities in tap, but what do you think of this group so far? Which one of these guys do the Patriots have the best chance at landing in free agency?

Read More: Brandon Lloyd, Brent Grimes, Carl Nicks, Cortland Finnegan

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Nebraska DT Jared Crick

02.20.12 at 2:00 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

JARED CRICK

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Nebraska

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 285 pounds

Achievements: 2010 first-team All Big 12, 2010 second-team All-American

What he brings: A hard-working end, Crick can quickly get to the quarterback because of his effort. A great run-stopper for a defensive end with the ability to shed a block on either side, he can get to the running back both in the backfield and while chasing him down. Crick is not the most explosive player, but he has a reputation as a workhorse.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Crick was on the watch list for all the major defensive awards, but he missed most of the 2011 season with a torn pectoral muscle after recording 22 tackles and a sack in five games. His would be good fit for the Patriots system, where his size and speed would allow him to slide into the line almost immediately. He ranks eighth on the Nebraska career sack list with 20. Crick played alongside Ndamukong Suh in 2009 after being an understudy to Suh in 2008.

Recent articles:

Injury doesn’t impact draft status, size does

NFL combine next step

Video: Here’s Crick in a game vs. Texas A&M in 2010.

Read More: 2012 Potential Patriots, jared crick,

WR Brandon Lloyd: ‘Definitely be interested’ in Patriots

02.20.12 at 1:15 pm ET
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Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who previously said that he would like to follow Josh McDaniels after playing for him in both Denver and St. Louis, continued to express an interest in the new Patriots offensive coordinator.

“I’ve been very successful in Josh’s offense,” Loyd told ProFootballTalk.com. “I admire Tom Brady. I admire what that organization has done. I admire that organization and how they run things over there. I’d definitely be interested in hearing how I could possibly fit into that equation.”

Lloyd led the NFL in 2010 with 1,448 receiving yards. In nine NFL seasons among five teams, he has 311 catches for 4,784 yards and 31 touchdowns.

He was traded from the Broncos to the Rams in October last year.

The Rams could franchise Lloyd, but there is speculation that the veteran receiver will hit the open market.

Read More: Brandon Lloyd,

Former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham breaks down the New England defense in latest edition of ‘It Is What It Is’ podcast

02.20.12 at 11:41 am ET
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In the new edition of the “It Is What It Is” podcast, WEEI.com’s Christopher Price chats with former  Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, who breaks down the New England defense, with a specific look at linebackers Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo. Chatham also gives his thoughts on the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants and where the team goes from here. Click HERE to listen.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Christopher Price, Jerod Mayo, Matt Chatham

Patriots can officially begin their game of tag Monday with Wes Welker

02.20.12 at 11:21 am ET
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Let the tagging begin.

The window to hit potential free agents with the franchise tag opens Monday and runs through March 5. While enjoying exclusive negotiating rights until free agency opens on March 13, each team has the option to choose one player with an expiring contract who will receive a one-year deal in lieu of a long-term deal or becoming a free agent.

However, under the new collective bargaining agreement, which was signed last offseason, the franchise tag rules have changed slightly. Now, a tagged player will no longer receive the average of the five highest-paid players at his position. Instead, the salary for each tagged player will be determined by a formula that factors franchise tags for the previous five years.

According to NFL.com, the numbers are down across the board. Here’€™s the position-by-position difference:

‘€¢Quarterback: $14.4 million in 2012; down from $16.1 million in 2011
‘€¢Running back: $7.7 million in 2012; down from $9.6 million in 2011
‘€¢Wide receiver: $9.4 million in 2012; down from 11.4 million in 2011
‘€¢Tight end: $5.4 million in 2012; down from $7.3 million in 2011
‘€¢Offensive lineman: $9.4 million in 2012; down from $10.1 million in 2011
‘€¢Defensive end: $10.6 million in 2012; down from $13 million in 2011
‘€¢Defensive tackle: $7.9 million in 2012; down from $12.5 million in 2011
‘€¢Linebacker: $8.8 million in 2012; down from $10.1 million in 2011
‘€¢Cornerback: $10.6 million in 2012; down from $13.5 million in 2011
‘€¢Safety: $6.2 million in 2012; down from $8.8 million in 2011

In New England, the Patriots have several key free agent decisions, including running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, wide receiver Deion Branch, offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen and defensive ends Andre Carter and Mark Anderson. However, the likeliest candidate for the franchise tag is wide receiver Wes Welker, who just completed a five-year deal he signed just prior to the 2077 season. Welker, who finished with 122 catches for 1,569 yards this year, maintained over the course of the 2011 season that he wanted to return to the Patriots.

‘€œWell, of course I want to stay here,’€ Welker said when asked about his future during the season. ‘€œBut as of right now, I don’€™t really think about it. I just try to focus on this year and everything I can do to help the team this year.’€

‘€œWell, I think Wes wants to be here, and we want him here,’€ said Patriots owner Robert Kraft in January. ‘€œHe’€™s pretty special. Anytime there’€™s a player on this team I can look eye to eye and be at the same level, he’€™s an important guy.’€

The Patriots used the tag on defensive lineman Vince Wilfork in 2010 while they were negotiating a long-term deal with the All-Pro. They eventually reached an agreement on a long-term deal, and rolled that money forward into a new contract.

History would certainly seem to favor the receiver staying in New England. In 2009, Welker changed representation, leaving Vann McElroy and aligning himself with David Dunn of Athletes First. Known primarily as an agency that reps bigger name quarterbacks ‘€” Dunn hammered out a $103 million agreement between the Patriots and Drew Bledsoe back in 2000 ‘€” Dunn and Athletes First have represented Patriots like Aaron Hernandez and Zoltan Mesko, and historically have had a good working relationship with New England.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Dan Connolly

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Boise State DL/LB Shea McClellin

02.20.12 at 8:46 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

SHEA McCLELLIN

Position: DE/LB

School: Boise State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 255 pounds

Achievements: Athlon Sports Preseason All-America second team (2011), first-team All-Western Athletic Conference (2010)

What he brings: McClellin’s solid frame and extensive upper-body strength maximizes his length into contact. He has an explosive first step off the ball both with his hand on the ground and standing up. His strong lower body helps him accelerate through contact as well. He is a clever player and works perpetually toward the quarterback. The patience he demonstrates when taking on blocks is paired with his strong hands, allowing him to enter clean into contact. Redirecting and closing on the football is not an issue for McClellin, as he demonstrates great balance and fluidity. His versatility is a plus, as he can shift from the defensive line to linebacker.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: McClellin had 50 tackles and three sacks in 2011, giving him career totals of 130 tackles and 20.5 sacks. In 2009 he became the first Bronco to score on an interception return and a fumble return in the same season since 1999. He missed the final three games of the 2008 season due to a leg injury.

Recent articles:

McClellin impresses scouts at Senior Bowl

McClellin: Bronco to a ‘monster’?

Video: Here’s a highlight reel of McClellin.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Shea McClellin,
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