The Patriots just wrapped up their sixth Lombardi Trophy, and even though the confetti has barely stopped falling there's still time to look ahead. The official start of the offseason will come March 13, and the Patriots will spend te next several weeks getting their house in order and figuring out how the 2019 roster will take shape.
New England has a handful of key free agents such as Trent Brown and Trey Flowers, as well as a few veterans like Rob Gronkowski and Devin McCourty who are considering retirement. The futures of these players and others will determine the course of action Bill Belichick takes, but as of now we'll operate under the assumption that all players under contract for 2019 will return.
With that in mind, looking ahead to 2019, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: What is the Patriots biggest area of need entering the offseason?
PFW's Erik Scalavino says …
Few players have been as dominant during their careers as Rob Gronkowski, but that wasn't the case in 2018. While Gronk was still an effective blocker, he was anywhere near as productive in the passing game as he has been. And who knows what the future will bring for the former All-Pro tight end?
Gronk has been weighing the retirement decision for more than a year now. It's possible that he returns, but even if he does the Patriots need to add some depth at the position. Dwayne Allen is a capable blocker but provides little in the passing game. Jacon Hollister hasn't been able to stay healthy. Ryan Izzo was on IR all season, and he looked like more of a blocker during training camp.
Belichick needs to add a well-rounded tight end to the mix, probably more than. Look for the Patriots to use at least one draft pick on the position come April.
PFW's Paul Perillo says …
Julian Edelman had a fantastic postseason but that should cover up the fact that the Patriots wide receiver corps was terribly thin all year. Making matters worse, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson are all free agent, so what little the Patriots had may not be back next year either.
The Patriots need a young, explosive player who can operate on the outside and make some plays down the field. Not necessarily in the deep passing game, but a polished route-runner who can beat man coverage and take advantage of the space provided by Edelman's work inside.
I'd love to see the Patriots draft two receivers in April, and use picks in the first two days in order to do so. Wide receiver hasn't always been an easy spot for the Patriots to evaluate, but whether it be through the draft or free agency it's a huge area of need.