Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/25/12
In a three-part segment leading into the start of training camp, we examine the expectations for the Patriots' free-agent acquisitions, rookies, and veterans this season. Let’s start with the free agent acquisitions.

There are five categories we will use to rate these players.











1 Randy Moss: Obviously the best rating possible. His 23 touchdowns in his first season with the Patriots were unprecedented. He exceeded every expectation that year and solidified his legacy with the greatest single-season by a receiver of all time.

2 Mike Vrabel: This is the second-best category a player can be put into. Vrabel’s 40 solo tackles (63 total), along with three sacks and two interceptions in 2001 were a key part of the Patriots' Super Bowl run. Not Moss status, but a big part of the team's success nonetheless.

3 Donte’ Stallworth: Again, going back to 2007, Stallworth was picked up after his short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. Was he Moss? No, but he came in and contributed to the team. He did not play above expectations, he did not play below them. He met them.

4 Chad Ochocinco: I know his last name is Johnson again, but he was Ochocinco on the Patriots so I am keeping it that way. Ochocinco came in to New England with pretty high expectations, and while he was not absolutely awful, he definitely did not come close to meeting them.

With just 15 catches, 276 yards and 1 touchdown all year, he failed to do what he was signed to do. Not a complete disaster, but pretty much non-existent. Definitely not a Stallworth, Vrabel or Moss.

5 Albert Haynesworth: I am not even going to try and explain this one.

Now that the categories have been set, let us begin.

Brandon Lloyd (WR):
Fan expectations:Randy Moss / Mike Vrabel
What expectations should be:Mike Vrabel

Analysis: There is a lot of hype surrounding Brandon Lloyd. Some fans may think he should be in the “Mike Vrabel” category, but I think a lot of fans have him in the “Randy Moss” category because of how desperate they are for a deep threat.

Is Lloyd comparable to Moss? No, but is he the deep threat many people thought Ochocinco would be last year? It looks that way so far. That being said, he will not get as many looks as he would on another team because of all the weapons this offense already has. Should we expect the 1,448 receiving yards he notched with Denver in 2010? I do not think so, but I think a 70+ catch, 1,000-yard season is on the horizon.

Daniel Fells (TE):
Fan expectations: Donte’ Stallworth
What they should be: Donte’ Stallworth / Mike Vrabel

Analysis: Daniel Fells is going to be a weapon for this team, especially if there are injuries. I put him in the slightly-above-expectations category because I think that he can contribute, but he is not a big-name tight end. He is no Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten or Tony Gonzalez. But he is athletic, he can catch the ball pretty well, and he is a decent blocker.

Being the third tight end on this roster will give him some snaps, and he will contribute as a blocker, but expecting anything over a 400-yard season receiving-wise is really pushing it. That being said, this was a very solid addition in terms of depth and skill, and I think he can help make this New England offense even more productive at the TE position.

Joseph Addai (RB):
Fan expectations: Donte’ Stallworth
What they should be: Chad Ochocinco

Analysis: People expecting Addai to replace BenJarvis Green-Ellis seamlessly is wishfully thinking. These are two completely different running backs. Green-Ellis is a hard runner who never fumbled, while Addai is a receiving back who can block really well. Addai is also injury-prone, and has not been the force he was back in 2006 in quite some time.

I do think his veteran leadership will help the young guys (second-year players Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen) develop into mentally-tough players, but on the field he may not be much of a factor. If he even makes the roster, it will be hard for him to find playing time behind Ridley, Vereen and third-down back Danny Woodhead. Expect him to help on the sidelines, not on the field.

Visanthe Shiancoe (TE):
Fan expectations: Donte’ Stallworth
What they should be: Chad Ochocinco

Analysis: Shiancoe should make the roster due to his $1.2 million hit on the cap, but this is purely a depth signing. With Fells on the PUP list right now, Shiancoe will get some playing time in training camp and may be thrown in on third down or goal-line situations during the season because he is a pretty good receiver.

But let us be clear – as long as Fells is healthy, Shiancoe will most likely be the fourth tight end on this roster. The Patriots have stocked up at the tight end position because of what happened last year in the playoffs [to Gronkowski], and they are by far the best in the league at the position.

I do not expect too much from Shiancoe. He is 32 years old and is playing behind three other guys. If injuries pile up, the expectations will rise. Right now, he is there just in case…

Jonathan Fanene (DL):
Fan expectations: Donte’ Stallworth / Mike Vrabel
What they should be: Donte’ Stallworth

Analysis: Fanene was a highly-coveted free agent by the Patriots, and they got him – but it did not come cheap. Fanene signed a 3-year, $12 million deal almost immediately after free agency began. He was a nice role player in Cincinnati last year, so the same can be expected in New England.

However, Fanene suffered a leg injury on the first day of OTAs, and his status is unknown. It is a good sign that he is not on the PUP list, but he may be limited. If he is healthy, he should be a nice addition to the defensive line. I know most fans will have him in the Stallworth category, but I put him in the slash-Vrabel category because of how much the Patriots paid him.

For $4 million a year, he should register a few sacks, stuff holes against the run regularly, and put some solid pressure on the quarterback. I like this addition, and I expect him to be just as good as he was with the Bengals.

Steve Gregory (SS):
Fan expectations: Mike Vrabel
What they should be: Donte’ Stallworth

Analysis: I think a lot of people have high expectations for Gregory because of how bad the secondary was last season. They gave up a ton of yards – the second most ever in an NFL season. Gregory is an experienced player who should get to start alongside Patrick Chung. How effective will he be? He started a few games with the Chargers last year, but he never really showed any ball-hawking skills.

He is a hard hitter, and is also pretty fast. My biggest fear is whether or not he can defend the pass. I do not think that he will live up to every expectation, but only because after last season they are so high. He should not be so far below them that he reaches Ochocinco status, so I’ll put him in the Stallworth category.
 

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