2012 NFL Free Agency: Are the New England Patriots Done Signing Players?
The New England Patriots made a significant investment in Dan Koppen earlier this week, agreeing to a two-year, $6 million contract per ESPN. What made the pact even more significant was the fact that Koppen became the 73rd player to sign with the team.
I examined the pros and cons to that deal and predicted it's inevitably last week.
Later in the day, the Patriots came to terms with No. 74—kicker Chris Koepplin—who you may remember from the 2011 preseason. Koepplin, a UMass product, handled the majority of the kicking duties in the preseason while Stephen Gostkowski recovered from his quad injury.
NFL rosters are capped at 80 players at this stage, with scheduled cut down days throughout the offseason. New England possesses six selections in the upcoming draft and now has exactly six slots left in which to sign players to its roster.
The practice squad slots become available following the last round of cuts creating the 53-man active roster. Each franchise is allowed eight slots for their "scout team."
The Physically Unable to Perform list is of course available from the start of training camp, but players placed on the "active" PUP list do count against the roster limit. The "reserve" list becomes available at the start of the season if a player is still unable to play.
Marcus Cannon, for example, was placed on the Non-Football Injury list last season, which functions just like the reserve PUP and because he was inactive, he didn't count against the 53-man roster. One of Ross Ventrone's many releases came when Cannon was promoted to the active roster in Week 10.
Is free agency over in New England?
So, it appears the Patriots are prepared to use their remaining roster slots on rookie draft selections and may be done making moves in free agency, at least for a good while. There's plenty of other possible scenarios, though.
The team could easily release a player or two to make room for a signing like Andre Carter down the line, but one would wonder how a player lasted to this point if New England didn't at least want to get a look at them in pads.
There's also the possibility and likelihood that the Patriots pursue a few undrafted prospects, which would require some finagling of the roster. Also bear in mind that Bill Belichick has no qualms about wheeling and dealing picks, there's no guarantee the Patriots make six selections this season, it could easily be more or less.
With all that said, with 24 new contracts and tenders offered and signed per NFL.com (minus Wes Welker's signature on the franchise) New England has been quite busy this offseason already. For the free agency frenzy to finally end soon would not be surprising.
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