Analysis: Starting O-line intact

Reaching a contract agreement with starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, as reported by colleague Field Yates, is a coup for the Patriots. When free agency began, the thought from here was that if the Patriots could keep two of their top three free agents (Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, Vollmer), it would be solid work.

Of the three, Vollmer was viewed as the most likely flight risk. But it seems that free agency didn’t produce the top-of-the-market offer that Vollmer was hoping for, hence the delay in re-signing with the Patriots, who always had interest in his return but not at a market-busting rate.

There are still some questions to be answered.

How long is the agreement? How will the financial terms impact other free-agent moves?

But for now, based on the information available, ensuring Vollmer’s return for at least 2013 is a good hit for the Patriots (Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald tweeted it could be a four-year pact). This means the club brings back its entire starting offensive line, and in an area where five players seeing the same picture is critical, that is an ideal scenario.

Sometimes a team’s best work in free agency is retaining its own, and that’s what this offseason has mostly been defined by for the Patriots. If we revisit some of the free-agent lists by analysts when free agency started, Welker, Talib and Vollmer were highly rated.

The only disappointment for the Patriots is that it could have been 3 for 3 if the timing had been different with Welker.