Chris Burke and Doug Farrar](http://nfl.si.com/2014/02/12/nfl-power-rankings-offseason-outlook/3/)* of *Sports Illustrated rank all 32 NFL teams based on their offseason outlook. Pending free agents, cap space, amount of draft picks and track record of GM/management are all factored in to the ranking. The Patriots come in at a tie for 8th.
"A safe bet: The Patriots will not stand pat with the seven draft picks they currently hold (none in Round 5; two in Round 6),' writes Burke. "Bill Belichick loves to wheel and deal, often doing so in ways that prove to benefit New England. He has less than $5 million in projected cap space at the moment and some very important free agents - i.e. Brandon Spikes, Julian Edelman, Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount."
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated believes that Patriots impending free agent RB LeGarrette Blount has a very good chance of returning next season.
"Blount was one of the NFL's most pleasant surprises in 2013, and one of the best examples of the player who thrives in Foxboro after iffy stops elsewhere," writes Farrar. "Given Bill Belichick's frequent praise, Blount should be considered to be a virtual lock to return as long as the price is right."
Jason Smith of NFL.com calls Patriots WR Julian Edelman one of the best free agent targets at wide receiver.
"He's system-proof and can fit on any team," adds Smith. "I'd be surprised if the Patriots let him get away -- considering they don't have any other receivers Tom Brady can really trust -- but I'd go after him hard with a big contract offer, somewhere along the lines of four years and $40 million."
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com projects tight end as one of the Patriots top needs in the draft and free agency.
"Even if free agents Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan return, the Patriots figure to be looking closely at tight ends who offer a bit more of a dynamic presence in the passing game and Rob Gronkowski insurance," writes Reiss. "D.J. Williams is already under contract for 2014, so he'll have a head start on whatever tight end(s) is brought into the fold."