|Six who are in uncertain situations as we near the halfway point of the NFL offseason||04.16.12 at 10:03 pm ET|
Despite the fact that the bulk of free agency is done, there are some veterans who are still in an uncertain position. Here are six Patriots (some free agents) who still face uncertain situations (for various reasons) as we close in on the halfway point of the NFL offseason:
Andre Carter: Carter’s status remains up in the air — his calf surgery and subsequent rehab have reportedly gone well. However, it’s likely that both sides want to wait a while longer to get a handle on Carter’s health before they make any final decisions. If he doesn’t return? Expect the Patriots to rely on newly acquired Trevor Scott, as well as put more on the shoulders of Rob Ninkovich. New England could also put more of a priority on finding a pass rusher in the draft if it knows Carter won’t be back.
Brian Waters: He has one more year left on his contract, but he openly discussed the idea of retirement after the Super Bowl. Like Carter, a great veteran acquisition who was right at home in his first season New England, so much so that it probably wouldn’t take much to lure him back for one more year. If he doesn’t return? Expect young interior linemen like Ryan Wendell and Donald Thomas to get the bulk of the snaps. (The guard spot will be a fluid position, especially if Waters does decide to retire and Logan Mankins is sidelined for the start of the year because of offseason ACL surgery.)
Matt Light: Like Waters, he’s floated the idea of retirement. One of the only remaining links to Super Bowl XXXVI, Light had one of the best seasons of his career last year, and based on that, he could ultimately return for one more season. If he doesn’t return? While there is some question about the guard spot if Waters retires, the Patriots appear set at tackle with Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder.
Kevin Faulk: Thanks to a knee injury he suffered at the start of the 2010 season, the veteran has struggled the last two years. However, the veteran running back has already stated the fact that he’d like to return for 2012. (If he doesn’t get that phone call, he said he’ll retire.) For what it’s worth, it’s my belief that Faulk, Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown are the only three guys who have played for Bill Belichick who have earned the right — in the coaches eyes — to go out on their own terms. If he doesn’t return? Look for Danny Woodhead to move into the full-time role of third-down/changeup back, a job that he maintained for most of the last two years when Faulk has been on the shelf.
James Ihedigbo: Even before the draft, the safety will face some positional versatility going into the 2012 season. Devin McCourty spent a lot of time at the free safety spot late in the year and into the position, and the signing of Steve Gregory could have some impact on where Ihedigbo is in 2012. However, he does have special-teams experience, and he could also benefit from the fact that he has a year in the system and the safety market (both in the draft and in free agency) is pretty poor. If he doesn’t return? Presumably Gregory and McCourty would pick up some of the snaps, as well as others like Sergio Brown, the versatile Sterling Moore (who went back and forth between safety and corner last year) and whomever New England might add in the draft.
Gerard Warren: Like many others on this list, the veteran defensive lineman is a free agent who might ultimately decide to call it a career if he finds he’s not a fit with the Patriots for the 2012 season. But then again, this is nothing new for “Big Money,” who was in a similar situation last season, only to be brought back by Belichick and the Patriots before the start of the year. If he doesn’t return? Expect more to fall on the shoulders of young interior defensive linemen like Kyle Love.
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