The Patriots jumped right into the free agency waters almost immediately, inking wide receiver Danny Amendola shortly after the start of the new league year. More moves followed as the team watched some veterans go (Patrick Chung, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Lloyd) while welcoming some more to the fold (Adrian Wilson, Donald Jones). But things slowed down noticeably during the recently completed owners meetings in Phoenix.
Now it's time to crank it back up again, and Bill Belichick said he expected a second wave of free agency to start soon. With that in mind we started thinking about which positions might be the target of the Patriots affections.
There are a handful of possibilities that make sense. The loss of Lloyd and Wes Welker leaves the depth at wide receiver in question. Sebastian Vollmer remains outside, leaving a hole to fill at right tackle. The Patriots always seem to be in need of pass rushers and John Abraham and Dwight Freeney have both reportedly been in town.
Clearly, there are a number of reasonable possibilities. So, we'll make this the subject of our weekly Samsonite Make Your Case debate.
What is the Patriots biggest remaining need?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
What do I have in common with nearly all the receivers on the Patriots depth chart right now? I've never caught a pass from Tom Brady. As it stands today, Matthew Slater is the only New England receiver who's hauled in a reception from No. 12, and he has one career catch. The rest – Danny Amendola, Donald Jones, Jeremy Ebert, Kamar Aiken, Andre Holmes – have never seen the field with Brady. And let's not pretend it's the same as when Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth and Kelley Washington had yet to haul in a spiral from Tom Terrific.
New England is very much lacking talent and depth at receiver. There is really nothing on the outside following the release of Brandon Lloyd. Amendola is an injury concern, Jones may not even make the roster and the rest are battling for their professional lives every single day.
There is no doubt the Patriots still need to add to the wide receiver position – probably through both free agency and the draft. I'd be all for adding a mid-level veteran talent as well as using one of the top three picks at the position. I'd love to see the team draft a guy like Baylor's Terrance Williams. There are guys at this point who could be reasonably expected to fill out the depth chart at defensive end, tackle and in the secondary. But right now the cupboard at wide receiver is as bare as a baby's new-born bottom.
Hey, if things don't change maybe I'll see about getting a tryout. After all, I have a lot in common with many of the guys currently at the position!
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I understand the team has lost some wide receivers, but the offense still has plenty of viable options in the passing game with Danny Amendola, the tight ends and the running backs to go with Tom Brady. Bottom line there – the offense will still be among the best in the league.
The same cannot be said of the defense. While there is some young talent to be excited about, the group is still in need of playmakers who are capable of changing games. Only Adrian Wilson has been added to the defense that finished the 2012 season, and at this stage of his career it's hard to imagine Wilson turning in many of those types of plays.
The best way to disrupt opposing offenses today is by generating pressure on the passer. In order to do that you need to have multiple players capable of getting after the quarterback. Right now the Patriots have just two such players in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. That's not enough.
Bill Belichick reportedly had John Abraham and Dwight Freeney in to talk, and Elvis Dumervil also as generated interest from the team. Any of these players would make sense and to me it's important that New England signs at least one of them.
My personal choice would be Abraham because I believe he would represent the best combination of production and value. But regardless of the specific player, the biggest remaining need is a pass rusher – and fortunately there are several still available for the Patriots to pick from.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.