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Taking a look at Koppen's return

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  April 13, 2012 02:12 PM

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Veteran center Dan Koppen is back with the Patriots, with a two-year deal that will pay him close $6 million according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

A league source has confirmed the deal and the parameters.

What does it mean for the line and draft plans? Not quite sure yet. The devil will really be in the details of Koppen’s contract, which we won’t know for a couple of days.

It’s possible the agreement is a one-year deal, and that the second year won’t happen. That’s what happened with Matt Light, who was given two-year, $12 million contract. It appears there was an agreement to retire after one season, and he won’t see about $5 million of that deal -- $8 million if he returns half his $6 million signing bonus.

I find it odd that Koppen would get a legit two-year contract – at solid money – after getting little interest on the free agent market. I mean, who were the Patriots bidding against? The Titans didn’t really pursue Koppen after his visit and certainly weren’t going to give him much money. That’s why I think it’s likely a one-year contract. Unless Tom Brady mandated that as part of his restructure the Patriots bring Koppen back at a decent wage.

Earlier this offseason, the Patriots gave Dan Connolly a three-year, $10 million contract with a signing bonus of $3.25 million. That was solid starter’s money, but not enough for the Patriots to feel bad about sending him to the bench if they have to.

I think the Koppen signing makes it a “best five” situation on the line. If Koppen beats out Connolly, he beats him out. And the Patriots won’t really care. But they think Connolly will win the job.

If anything, I think the Koppen move is further insurance for Logan Mankins. Maybe Robert Gallery isn’t the best option at left guard should Mankins not be ready for the beginning of the season. At the least, Mankins will have to take it slow in training camp and in the preseason. Connolly would then be thrown back into the mix at left guard.

As far as the draft, if Koppen is on a one-year deal, then I don’t see it altering the thinking that the Patriots will be looking for an interior lineman. Connolly isn’t getting huge money, and two top players – Koppen and Brian Waters – could be gone after next season. There’s too much unknown about Nick McDonald, Ryan Wendell, and Marcus Cannon to bank on them.

In any event, here’s the update depth chart. Of course, Connolly, McDonald, Wendell, and Cannon can play multiple positions:

Screen shot 2012-04-13 at 2.03.01 PM.png

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