Willie McGinest, David Givens, Matt Chatham, Christian Fauria, and possibly Troy Brown, Tom Ashworth, Steven Neal, and Adam Vinatieri. Other than missing those horrible Papa Ginos and Bernie & Phyls commercials with Vinatieri, what is the net loss? The Patriots have a core group of irreplaceable players: Tom Brady, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Deion Branch, and Rodney Harrison (and maybe Mike Vrabel). Outside of these guys, EVERYONE is replaceable. Quick, what is the difference, other than age, between David Givens and David Patton? How many quality kickers are annually on the market? The Patriots have made a living recycling offensive linemen; anyway, with Matt Light and Dan Koppen back on the offensive line, the depth will still be there after they pick up a few cheap veterans. Sure, Big Willie is a damned good player, but all that money for a 34 year old outside linebacker is ludicrous.

The point is that there are a lot of good players out in free agency, and very few difference makers. The Patriots are hopefully working to tie up Branch and Seymour to long-term deals right now. If Vinatieri walks, I am sure there are other kickers out there (and for the record, Vinatieri missed more field goals than he should have last season). These guys are out on the free agent market because they are replaceable. The Patriots are wise to take their time, find the long-term bargains, and not get emotional and overpay to keep their guys around simply because they won with them in the past. Past performance is no guarantee for future results. As Bill Belichick likes to say, the team will get value from the people they bring in to play in September. Much like the Red Sox in January, there is no need to panic because opening day is a long way off and the holes can be filled in the interim.

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