The Patriots are amazing. Since 2010, New England has slowly been rebuilding its entire roster, and they have made made the playoffs three times, the Super Bowl once and the AFC Championship Game twice in that time span.
That slow rebuild will continue in 2013. With Tom Brady‘s extension setting a likely end to his NFL career in 2017, we may start to see some urgency in winning now. That would mean spending more in free agency.
There are two areas the Patriots will likely try to address through free agency and the draft. There’s a lot of uncertainty at wide receiver and cornerback. Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Deion Branch are free agents and the Patriots will need to pick up an option to bring back Brandon Lloyd.
With the Brady extension, Welker will almost definitely be back, and sources have told me Lloyd’s locker room issues are being overblown. While it’s possible Lloyd won’t be back in 2013, it’s not a foregone conclusion. Still, even if Welker, Lloyd, Edelman and Branch are back, the Patriots still need to instill some youth at wideout, and having a player that can threaten defenses deep would help. Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers could be the big, strong target the Patriots need to take their offense to the next level.
At cornerback, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington and Marquice Cole are free agents, Devin McCourty was moved to safety and Alfonzo Dennard‘s 2013 status is up in the air as he awaits sentencing in April. Once again, even if all of those players are back, the Patriots could still need another cornerback, and it’s likely the Patriots will use a first or second day pick on the position at the NFL draft.
The Patriots will also likely need some depth on the offensive line, safety and linebacker once free agency is over. It would be wise to introduce some more athleticism at linebacker as well, and if the Patriots can find a nice value, I’d expect them to jump. Check out what we see the Patriots doing with their five 2013 draft picks.