NFL Free Agency 2012: 5 Veterans the New England Patriots Must Chase

Justin Keith@justin5keithCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2012

NFL Free Agency 2012: 5 Veterans the New England Patriots Must Chase

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    All of the drama surrounding players who were on the fence in terms of being franchised is over.

    Teams now know who the unrestricted free agents are in the NFL and will sure to be turning their full attention to acquiring impact players at positions of need.

    The New England Patriots will be no different.

    Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft will be scouring the market for talented, impact players to help both the offense and defense.

    Here are five players who should be targets for the Patriots.

Reggie Wayne, WR

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    Reggie Wayne has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the past handful of seasons while playing with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

    He could come to a similar situation in New England.

    Wayne could extend and rejuvenate his career by catching passes from Tom Brady after a season in which he was forced to catch balls from the likes of Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.

    The Patriots need an outside threat at wide receiver, and a cheaper option to some of the big-name targets at wideout is Wayne.

    Wayne would give yet another proven weapon in the high-powered Patriots offense.

Vincent Jackson, WR

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    If the Patriots want a stud wide receiver, they should look no farther than Vincent Jackson.

    V-Jax wasn't franchised by the San Diego Chargers yesterday and can now negotiate with any team he chooses.

    The price and competition for Jackson will be high, but the return just may be worth it to New England.

    Jackson is a top talent at wideout and could prove to change the dynamic of New England's offense. He would allow Brady to take shots down the field and take away some attention from Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.

    If the Patriots are willing to pony up the money, they could be players for Jackson's services.

Cortland Finnegan, CB

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    Cortland Finnegan certainly isn't going to win any popularity contests in the NFL anytime soon, but he is one heck of a cornerback.

    Finnegan is best known for his fight with Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and his attitude on the field.

    However Finnegan is a very good cover corner and could fill a huge hole in the Patriots' defense.

    Finnegan would bring attitude and would form an intimidating secondary that already includes Patrick Chung.

    If the Patriots are serious about improving their defense, Finnegan would be a good start.

Brandon Carr, CB

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    Although many people wouldn't consider Brandon Carr a "veteran" with only four years of NFL experience, he has enough to experience to prove he's a solid NFL corner.

    Carr is still moving into his prime, and the Patriots would be smart to nab a young, talented cornerback who could solidify the position for years to come.

    Carr will look for a long-team contract, something the Patriots usually are wary about, but the pay-off might be worth it.

    If Devin McCourty can regain his rookie form and Ras-I Dowling lives up to his second-round talent, the Patriots could have a trio of talented corners for multiple years.

Mario Williams, DE

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    There is no question that Mario Williams is the cream of the 2012 free-agent crop.

    Since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Texans in 2006, Williams has been one of the most feared pass rushers in the game. He has recorded over 50 sacks in his career and still is in his prime.

    Although lost for most of the 2011 season, many teams will be in line for his services. That means the Patriots will likely be in a bidding war with multiple teams to land Williams.

    Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft aren't known for going "all in" for a player, but Williams should be that exception.

    With the acquisition of Williams, the defense would be improved in every area with Williams' ability to disrupt the pass.

    Pats fans should be clamoring for Kraft to shell out the big bucks for this dynamic pass rusher because he can return the Patriots' defense to dominance.