The NFL offseason has been quite busy with big-name trades and rumors of other moves dominating the landscape - and official start of the new league has even arrived yet. That takes place next week (March 14) when free agency opens and the moves will come fast and furious.
Last season the Patriots were major players at the start, inking cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a big-money deal on Day 1. What will the team do this year?
Thus far the Patriots reportedly have been in the mix for some high-profile players who have switched teams, most recently Michael Bennett and Aqib Talib. New England wasn't able to land either guy, but there's still plenty of time for Bill Belichick to make some significant moves.
With that in mind and free agency set to begin, our Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week is: What position should be the Patriots priority to acquire in free agency?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The Patriots couldn't mount any consistent pressure on the quarterback at all last season and that ultimately proved to be the defense's undoing. It's time to add someone to the mix who might be able to change that.
The lack of heat on quarterbacks put too much pressure on the secondary, and the result was Nick Foles picking the Patriots apart in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick needs to find a way to add someone on the edge who can make a difference.
The problem there is there aren't many viable options in free agency. But we've already seen a pair of big-time rushers get traded in Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett. Maybe the Patriots can identify another one and make a deal that works. Unless the team can find a way to increase its pressure on the passer the defense will continue to struggle.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
The Patriots need to replace Malcolm Butler and it appears that Eric Rowe is targeted for the job. If that's the case, Bill Belichick might need to find someone to compete with Jonathan Jones for the slot job.
The Patriots have a need at the position regardless of inside or outside and I'd like to see them add a veteran to the mix rather than relying on the returners to improve. The coverage was spotty at times during the season, and even though the secondary didn't get much help from the guys up front, it still needs to be better.
If there isn't a suitable option available in free agency I think Belichick should get aggressive and look at the trade market as a possibility. Rumors of Richard Sherman's imminent departure from Seattle could be one way to go, or finding a way to acquire a versatile player like Tyrann Mathieu might be another. Either way the Patriots need some help in the secondary.