The resolution of the Vince Wilfork's contract situation was yet another example of the strong work the Patriots have done during this eventful offseason. With the veteran defensive tackle in the fold, and the signings of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell complete, New England has strengthened its team in a number of ways.
But while the big money and big names are now largely off the free agent market, the Patriots could still use some help in different areas. Rob Gronkowski's sketchy injury history leaves tight end as one, and the offense could probably still use a dynamic playmaker on the outside as well.
On defense, the team relied heavily on Ron Ninkovich and Chandler Jones to provide pressure on the passer and the unit could use another pass rusher. In the secondary there appears to be room for a hard-hitting safety to complement the coverage of Devin McCourty along the backline of the defense.
So despite some solid work thus far, Bill Belichick & Co. are still hard at work looking for ways to improve the team. As always we're here to help, and this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: With Vince Wilfork's contract resolved, what area is still most in need of addressing?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The Patriots are clearly in the midst of a nice offseason that has dealt with many of the team's needs. That said, I still see a glaring hole at tight end. As it stands today – with Rob Gronkowski rehabbing his way back from a torn ACL – New England doesn't have a starting-caliber player at the position.
We saw last year that if Michael Hoomanawanui is the top tight end, then the position becomes a production-free afterthought on an offense that will struggle. He's a nice, versatile player but not a real option to make plays in the passing game. So whether it's a veteran option – say taking a flyer on Owen Daniels – or through the draft, New England needs to add a higher-level tight end talent to the roster. I'm partial to Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a potential first- or second-round pick, but he's not the only young player who might be able to come in and be an option if/when Gronkowski can't be on the field.
Tom Brady has plenty of options and depth at receiver. The backfield is pretty well stocked. But the tight end position is significantly undermanned right now as arguably the only spot on the team that doesn't have a reliable option to at least pencil in as a starter for opening day.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I love the moves the Patriots have made thus far, particularly at corner. But even the best cover guys need some help from their friends up front and right now the Patriots still need to find more options to get after the passer.
As it stands now the defense will still have two proven rushers in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich and it's unlikely those two players will be available to player virtually every snap again this season. Michael Buchanon and Jake Bequette aren't proven commodities at this point and the Patriots weren't able to sign a veteran to augment the edge rush.
So, it would appear as if the draft might be the best way to get the job done. I like Auburn's Dee Ford and Missouri's Kone Ealy, and there's a good chance Ford will be available at 29. Adding an athletic presence on the edge to augment the all-around play of the current defensive ends would make the defense deeper and more dynamic, not to mention it would make the secondary's job that much easier.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.