March 14 marks the start of the new league year when all teams can begin the process of filling whatever needs they have through free agency and/or trades. Despite coming off a sixth Super Bowl title and third in the last five years, the Patriots have some areas that need addressing.
Currently the team has just one wide receiver under contract who has ever caught a pass in the NFL in Julian Edelman, so wideout would appear to be one. We're still waiting on Rob Gronkowski's decision for next year, so tight end is another position that deserves consideration.
With Trey Flowers and Trent Brown nearing free agency, the Patriots might also look along the lines on both sides of the ball for some help this offseason.
Basically, not many areas are off the table, so this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question will look for the one area that stands out above the rest. What position is the Patriots biggest need heading into free agency?
PFW's Andy Hart says …
Julian Edelman is the only wide receiver currently under contract who has caught an NFL pass. Obviously Edelman can't get the job done all by himself. The Patriots need to sign a veteran receiver – maybe two – and probably look in the draft as well.
The good news is there are several quality options at wide receiver who should be available. Golden Tate has openly talked about his desire to play in New England. He'd be a good fit in terms of a veteran with the toughness to compete for the Patriots. Tampa's Adam Humphries has been a productive slot receiver who might make sense behind Edelman as another option inside.
Of course this doesn't even mention the swing-for-the-fences types like Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown. Beckham continues to draw intrigue with his social media game, and maybe the Patriots could make such a blockbuster move.
Regardless, the need at wide receiver is apparent, and it's the biggest one heading into free agency.
PFW's Paul Perillo says …
No question wide receiver is a need, but I felt that was the case last season when Edelman basically was on his own in the playoffs and the Patriots made it work. I'm not as convinced that will remain the case if both wide receiver and tight end aren't addressed.
Clearly this depends a lot of Rob Gronkowski's status. It looks like he intends to play, but until we hear that from him there will be some concern. Dwayne Allen was released, Jacob Hollister hasn't been able to stay healthy and the Patriots love to use multiple tight ends. That's hard when there aren't enough options to choose from.
The Patriots should target a veteran like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert in free agency and look to add another in the draft. Perhaps Ryan Izzo, a 2018 seventh-rounder who was on IR as a rookie, can help in the blocking department. And if Gronk indeed returns the veteran can help in the receiving game and there will be some depth to use.
Tight end is as big a need as any on the roster heading into free agency.