Mike Loyko is trying to figure out what his team will do in the near future. So is every other team at this point. While New York Giants fans are wondering if they can repeat, every other fan base is wondering what went wrong and how they can make it right. Loyko is doing just that for the New England Patriots.
As he looks at the Pats' roster, it's clear the team has to make a move at center after the season-ending injury to Dan Koppen, the team's longtime starter, and his back-up, the versatile Dan Connolly. In the end, he believes Koppen will be gone.
He writes, "Koppen is a tough one. He missed the whole entire season and was replaced by Dan Connolly. Connolly is also an UFA so I would expect only 1 to be brought back. Koppen has been a very solid throughout his career but he is getting up there in age. Unlike Connolly he does not have experience playing OG and that may be a factor. The Patriots have a very solid offensive line and is built for the long term. The one hole could be at center, where they could opt to draft one and let Koppen walk. As of right now I think Koppen is let go."
A natural question for a former Patriot is to always look at his connection with Scott Pioli or Thomas Dimitroff and the Kansas City Chiefs could have a hole at center. While Casey Wiegmann has not officially retired, that seems the most likely move at this point for the Chiefs' incumbent at center. Rodney Hudson was drafted as his long-term replacement, but he only started one game last season against the Steelers and it's unclear whether he's ready. Hudson can also play guard, so that makes the center position possibly open.
Enter Koppen, coming off of a 2011 season lost to injury after fracturing his ankle in week 1. At 32, Koppen's best days are behind him, but he also has incredible experience and talent as a former Pro Bowler and multiple Super Bowl champion. Coming off of injury, he's going to be cheaper than he would have been in a contract year otherwise and it's possible Pioli could bring him in to mentor Hudson and make certain that he's ready, with the ability to move Hudson over if both are healthy and playing well -- likely spelling Ryan Lilja.