Breaking Down the New England Patriots' Free-Agent Radar

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Breaking Down the New England Patriots' Free-Agent Radar
Al Bello/Getty Images

For the better part of the past month, the New England Patriots and their staff have been cloistered in their offices like bishops in a conclave selecting the next pope.  The general public has no idea idea what goes on behind closed doors, and we won't know much more until players either sign or they don't.

Not surprisingly, nothing major has been accomplished as of yet.

For most of the Belichick-Brady era, the Patriots have operated as a well oiled machine.  Every offseason they replace the more heavily worn moving parts, tighten the nuts and bolts and fire that baby up again every September.

Of course, free agency throws a wrench into the whole system.  It represents not only losing key parts, but a unique opportunity to replace them with upgrades and newer models.  The key pieces in any machine inevitably break down and need replacing.

Sometimes, the newest models on the market provide a major upgrade and a universal fit to work with any system.  Sometimes the older models still represent the gold standard, like Goldeneye of the James Bond video game franchise, the '67 Chevy Camaro and Ed Reed playing safety.  Sometimes, despite the shiny luster of the newest item or the vintage appeal of a classic, a refurbished model provides the most value and best fit.

One man's trash is another man's treasure, and when NFL franchises feel buyer's remorse because their newest toy didn't perform the way they'd hoped, or simply can't afford the upkeep on their old classics, they send the very players they used to prize to the scrap heap. 

A discerning general manager can sift through the rubbish and find those gems that just need a bit of polishing and plug them right into their system.

Here are 10 reclamation projects who the Patriots could dust off, insert into their system and have New England's football machine purring like a kitten this fall.

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