Patriots & their own free agents

A quick-hit thought on the Patriots and their own players who have contracts expiring today at 4 p.m. ET:

DE Mark Anderson -- Mutual interest in his return but the question is at what price. After posting 10 sacks in the regular season and 2.5 in the playoffs, Anderson could be primed for a big pay bump for a team that views him as more than a part-time player (47 percent of the snaps in 2011).

WR Deion Branch -- Has said he'd like to return; hard to imagine the Patriots not granting that wish (possibly in a reduced role) assuming the sides can work out a fair contract.

DE Andre Carter -- Likely won't be part of the first wave of free agency as he recovers from quad surgery; mutual interest in his return.

C Dan Connolly -- Mutual interest in his return and there have been talks. We'll see if the sides can beat today's 4 p.m. ET deadline.

DE Shaun Ellis -- Ended up being an expensive depth option in 2011; sense here is that the team would prefer to go younger if possible.

RB Kevin Faulk -- His status likely to be determined a few months down the road than at the start of free agency.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- Sides couldn't come to an agreement in previous talks, but barring a late shift, team hopes to keep dialogue open depending on what unfolds in the open market.

LB Gary Guyton -- Expected to pursue a fresh start elsewhere. Good team player.

QB Brian Hoyer -- Restricted free-agent is expected to receive his tender offer today, projected to be at the second-round level ($1.9 million).

S James Ihedigbo -- Mutual interest in both sides. We'll see if they can beat today's 4 p.m. ET deadline with a deal.

CB/S Nate Jones -- Chipped in as an in-season 2011 signing, but assuming the Patriots' preference is to go younger at this spot.

C Dan Koppen -- Team had interest in his return, but sides were previously apart on financial terms. Still possible, but could be a situation where the open market dictates.

LB Niko Koutouvides -- Played well on special teams after mid-season signing in '11; would think he'd have an offer to return in a similar role.

CB Antwaun Molden -- Looks like the sides are heading in different directions at this time; claimed on waivers from the Texans last year.

WR Matthew Slater -- Special teams captain is a contractual priority for the Patriots. We'll see if the sides can beat today's 4 p.m. deadline.

DL Gerard Warren -- His possible return likely to be one that is decided later in the free-agent process.

WR Wes Welker -- Assigned franchise tag, which was always the expectation. Taking up $9.5 million of $120.6 million salary cap space and the sides will continue to explore the possibility of an extension.

LB Tracy White -- Primary contributions come on special teams and fits in nicely to team concept; would think he'll have an offer to return.