Personnel File – New England Patriots

Personnel leader – Head coach Bill Belichick is the unquestioned leader of the football side of the Patriots and the final say on all things related to players. He’s got 37 years of NFL coaching experience and handling personnel.

Key aides – Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio (11 years); Senior Football Advisor Floyd Reese (35 years); Director of Pro Personnel Jason Licht (16 years); Director of College Scouting Jon Robinson (10 years).

Personnel department – There are 15 full-time people listed in the team’s media guide as working in the area of personnel.

Personnel philosophy – Much has been made – thanks to the trio of Super Bowl titles – about the way the Patriots have acquired players over the years. It’s a system that was established by Belichick going all the way back to his days as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The foundation of the Patriots has been and continues to be the NFL Draft, but Belichick has shown willingness over the years to take in veteran players at the end of their careers and he squeezes another year or two out of them. Currently they have WR Chad Ochocinco in that role. The Super Bowls won by the Patriots were built on rosters that were dominated by draft picks and street free agents.

Big money contracts – QB Tom Brady, 5 years, $78.5 million; G Logan Mankins, 6 years, $51 million; DT Vince Wilfork, 5 years, $40 million.

Soon to be available/starters & key performers without 2012 contracts – WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, C Dan Koppen (IR), DE Andre Carter, OL Dan Connolly, DE Shaun Ellis, RB Kevin Faulk, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LB Gary Guyton.

ROSTER THIS WEEK (starters in bold)

Draft choices (25)

1st-round (5) – DT Vince Wilfork (2004), G Logan Mankins (2005), LB Jerod Mayo (2008), CB Devin McCourty (2010), OT Nate Solder (2011).

2nd-round (9) – RB Kevin Faulk (1999), OT Matt Light (2001), OT Sebastian Vollmer (2009), CB Patrick Chung (2009), DT Ron Brace (2009), TE Rob Gronkowski (2010), LB Brandon Spikes (2010), TE Jermaine Cunningham (2010), RB Shane Vereen (2011).

3rd-round (3) – WR Taylor Price (2010), QB Ryan Mallett (2011), RB Stevan Ridley (2011).

4th-round (2) – K Stephen Gostkowski (2006), TE Aaron Hernandez (2010).

5th-round (3) – WR Matthew Slater (2008), P Zoltan Mesko (2010), OT Marcus Cannon (2011).

6th-round (1) – QB Tom Brady (2000).

7th-round (2) – WR Julian Edelman (2009), DE Brandon Deaderick (2010).

Draft overview – Early in the last decade when Belichick and Pioli were building the team, they hit on talent every year. In 2000 it was the lucky pick of Brady, then Seymour and Light the next year, followed by Daniel Graham and Deion Branch and in 2004 they hit on Ty Warren, Eugene Wilson, Asante Samuel and Dan Koppen. The next two years brought Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins. It was in 2006 when the tide turned against Belichick/Pioli. The found one contributor in the draft and that was 5th-round kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Even in more recent drafts they’ve not been impressive, as they picked up one star in 2007-09 – LB Jerold Mayo.

Trades (4)

WR Wes Welker (2007), WR Deion Branch (2010), LB Tracy White (2010), WR Chad Ochocinco (2011).

Trade overview – If you want to know why the Dolphins have the trouble they current have, then this trade is the best evidence. Welker had a chance to be a free agent and rather than sign him, they ended up making a deal with the Patriots for a second and seventh-round draft choices. Quite possible it goes down as the steal of the decade. In Branch deal they got back a player they originally drafted.

Unrestricted free agents (0)

College free agents (9)

LB Jeff Tarpinian (2011), CB Sterling Moore (2011), LB Dane Fletcher (2010), DT Kyle Love (2010), S Sergio Brown (2010), QB Brian Hoyer (2009), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2008), LB Gary Guyton (2008), C Ryan Wendell (2008).

Street free agents (14)

G Brian Waters (2011), DE Shaun Ellis (2011), WR Tiquan Underwood (2011), DE Mark Anderson (2011), DE Andre Carter (2011), DE Gerard Warren (2011), S James Ihedigbo (2011), G Donald Thomas (2011), LB Niko Koutouvides (2011), CB Phillip Adams (2011), RB Danny Woodhead (2010), LB Rob Ninkovich (2009), CB Kyle Arrington (2009), C Dan Connolly (2008).

Free-agent overview – The Patriots don’t often fish in the UFA waters, and if they do it’s with one certain player in mind. But they make up for that with some smart pickups off the street free agent ranks, including right now eight players that are considered starters this week. They don’t sign a lot of younger players out of the SFAs, but instead look for veterans who have one specific talent or skill set that they can bring to the Patriots.

Waivers (2)

CB Antwaun Molden (2011), LS Danny Aiken (2011).

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