The New England Patriots made a slow start to free agency in the NFL this year, but a flurry of new additions have arrived to alter the surface of the team's roster for the coming season.
Initially, Jonathan Fanene was signed as a versatile defensive lineman from the Cincinnati Bengals. Fanene isn't going to be a big name or game changer for the Patriots, but he will fill out a vital role in the team's rotation upfront and improve the overall standard of the team's front seven.
Belichick then moved on to the safety position which was a point of contention entering the off-season. While many fans would have been clamoring for LaRon Landry or another player with a similar reputation, the Patriots stuck to their strategy by investing low hoping for a high reward.
Steve Gregory showed himself to be a solid, if unspectacular, safety in San Diego with the Chargers as the team's starter for the past two seasons. He should provide the team with an improvement over James Ihedigbo as the veteran of the back four creating a solid pairing with Pat Chung.
With Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Shaun Ellis all unrestricted free agents this off-season, the team has decided to take a one year flier on ex Oakland Raiders' defensive end Trevor Scott. Scott is a 27-year-old former starter with 13.5 sacks in four NFL seasons. Scott tore his ACL after 10 starts in 2010 while never returning to the starting line-up last year.
One the first few signings arrived, the Patriots really kicked into gear with a few bigger names.
Donte Stallworth returns to the team after previously playing for the Patriots in 2007. Stallworth was the third receiver during the team's first year with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Stallworth's career has been difficult since then as he was involved in an incident off the field that resulted in him missing a season in the league. He returned last year with the Washington Redskins but never featured significantly.
Notably, he at least showed off that he has his speed still.
Stallworth was one of three receivers brought in by the Patriots this week as they also signed former Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd. Gonzalez has the ability to play all three receiver positions on the field but struggles to stay healthy, as such, he was merely a depth addition. Lloyd on the other hand, should be a huge addition for the Patriots moving forward.
The Patriots lack of explosion on the outside was exposed in the Super Bowl as, without a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski, the offense couldn't keep up with the Giants explosive receiving corp. Lloyd is a speedster who can stretch the field but also excels as an all around player. His safe hands would have been very attractive to Belichick and he should prove to be a major game-changer for the side.
When you throw in the price the team paid, $12 million for three seasons, Lloyd is one of the best free agent signings of the seasons so far. To put his deal into context, Pierre Garcon received an $11 million signing bonus from the Washington Redskins.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Patriots also managed to bring in Robert Gallery in free agency after he was released from the Seattle Seahawks. Gallery was a high draft pick in Oakland who failed as a tackle before moving to guard.
Gallery, along with Brian Waters and Logan Mankins, gives the team significant depth on the interior of the offensive line.