Patriots Splurge, Sign Five Free Agents in Two Days

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IMarch 18, 2012

Capping off a two-day stretch which saw the team sign a total of five free agents, the New England Patriots made their presence known again on Saturday. 

The long-awaited and heavily expected Brandon Lloyd signing was made official, as the veteran wideout came to a three-year agreement with the team worth $12 million. Lloyd wasn't the only pass-catcher to receive a contract, however. 

Anthony Gonzalez, a former first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, signed as well. Details of the agreement have yet to be made public, but considering Gonzalez's injury history, it wouldn't be a surprise if he signed on the cheap.

The defensive side of the field got an addition as well. Trevor Scott, who had experience at defensive end and outside linebacker in his time with the Oakland Raiders, was  brought into the fold. Owner of 13.5 career sacks and an impressive 4.54 40-yard dash time coming out of college, Scott adds solid depth, potential and athleticism to a position in transition for the Patriots. 

These three players join Friday's free agent additions—safety Steve Gregory and defensive end Jonathan Fanene. 

Scott's ability to play special teams and the success he's had doing it probably helped this deal get put together. He could end up filling a lot of roles for the team in 2012.

Some have speculated that the Brandon Lloyd signing will spell the end of Chad Ochocinco's time here. I'm not so sure that's the case, however.

Deion Branch is now highly unlikely to return, at least not with a guaranteed contract.

As I've discussed previously, this may be a make-or-break offseason for Julian Edelman. If he doesn't project to have much of a role on the offense this year, I'm not so sure they can afford to keep him.

Right now Wes Welker, Lloyd, Ochocinco, Gonzalez and Edelman are under contract. I'd put the depth chart in that order as well, with the possibility of Gonzalez staying healthy and overtaking the third receiver role.

It would appear that Welker, Lloyd and Gonzalez have relatively long leashes, as they were all just tendered contracts this offseason and the team is content with their health statuses. One would think the Patriots would want to get some value for the two draft picks invested in Ochocinco and the cap language of his contract is written in such a way that the team would have to eat most of the charge this season upon release. 

There's just not a whole lot to gain from flat-out releasing him. It would make more sense to restructure, and possibly even for a non-guaranteed deal. Then again, if New England thinks it's better off without him this year, they could just eat the cap charge in order to clear the roster spot. 

It all depends on how one perceives these two recent additions at the position, and for now, it appears only the Patriots know for sure what's about to happen. 

Interested in reading more by this featured columnist? Check out more of Aaron Dodge's work on Bleacher Report.

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