Not including those who were on the roster last season, ranking 10 players who could be on the Patriots' radar as free agency begins:
1. DE Dwan Edwards (Ravens): Starting defensive end was often overshadowed by bigger-name players in Baltimore. He could help fill the void created by Richard Seymour's trade and Jarvis Green's likely departure.
2. WR Josh Reed (Bills): Veteran receiver has played all eight years of his career in Buffalo, could thrive with a change of scenery, and would provide another layer of short- and long-term security.
3. QB Chad Pennington (Dolphins): If the veteran quarterback is healthy and willing to come as a backup, he could be a sounding board for Tom Brady, confidant to close friend Randy Moss, and help improve locker-room chemistry.
4. LB Kirk Morrison (Raiders): Productive middle linebacker is in his prime years. A restricted free agent, he'd cost a third-round draft choice and would have to be signed to a new contract. The Patriots don't currently have a third-round pick, so they would either have to acquire one to execute an offer sheet or work out a sign-and-trade with the Raiders.
5. DE Jason Taylor (Dolphins): Like Pennington, he's another high-character player who also showed last season that he can still bring it in rush situations (7 sacks).
6. RB Thomas Jones (Jets): Veteran running back wouldn't help the Patriots get younger, but he'd help them get tougher.
7. DL Justin Bannan (Ravens): Veteran defensive lineman's role with Baltimore was similar to the one Green played for the Patriots.
8. C Kevin Mawae (Titans): It sounds like the veteran center wants to return to Tennessee, but he'd add toughness to any unit looking for a short-term fix.
9. TE Anthony Fasano (Dolphins): The Patriots need to generate more production out of the tight end spot in the passing game. A restricted free agent, Fasano would cost a second-round pick.
10. WR Derrick Mason (Ravens): Veteran receiver likely will want to stay in Baltimore. The Patriots visited with him in 2005 and he remains productive entering his 14th season.
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.