The New England Patriots went on a free-agent frenzy Friday night, adding three players to fill major needs on their roster.
Let’s take an updated look at the Patriots’ depth chart to reassess their greatest needs:
Starter: Tom Brady
Reserves: Brian Hoyer
The Patriots should select a quarterback somewhere in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft to serve as Brady’s eventual replacement.
Starter: Rex Burkhead
Reserves: James White, Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden
The Patriots could be set at this position after signing Hill. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them draft a running back to compete for a role with Hill and Gillislee, though. Burkhead should take on a greater role with Dion Lewis leaving to go to the Tennessee Titans.
Starter: James Develin
The Patriots don’t need another fullback.
Starters: Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan
Reserves: Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Riley McCarron, Cody Hollister
The Patriots still need to re-sign Matthew Slater, but after that they could be set here too. With the contracts of Cooks and Hogan set to expire after the season, however, they could use a draft pick on a young wideout.
Starter: Rob Gronkowski
Reserves: Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister, Will Tye
The Patriots should still look to sign or draft a tight end. The best free agent available is Eric Ebron. They could try to sign Martellus Bennett to more of a team-friendly contract after releasing him last week. Luke Willson and Troy Niklas would be cheaper options. If the Patriots sign a tight end, and if they get an assurance that Gronkowski won’t retire, then they could elect to cut Dwayne Allen and his $5 million cap hit if he won’t agree to a pay cut.
Starters: Marcus Cannon, Matt Tobin
Reserves: Cole Croston, Antonio Garcia, Andrew Jelks
This is the Patriots’ biggest area of need, and it’s not even close. Tobin was a backup with the Seattle Seahawks on one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last year. Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia could fix him, but New England clearly needs more help here. The Patriots should look to re-sign either Cameron Fleming or LaAdrian Waddle, and they should spend their first-round pick on a left tackle.
Starters: Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason
Reserves: Ted Karras, Tobin, Croston, Jason King, Chase Farris
The Patriots will be fine here for 2018. The Patriots might need to draft a right guard of the future, however, with Mason set to hit free agency next offseason.
Starter: David Andrews
Reserves: Karras, James Ferentz
The Patriots are all set at center.
Starters: Trey Flowers, Adrian Clayborn
Reserves: Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Eric Lee, Keionta Davis, Geneo Grissom
The Patriots are looking a lot better now at defensive end after signing Clayborn. They could still choose to select a pass rusher high in the 2018 draft.
Starters: Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown
Reserves: Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Vincent Valentine
This is a position of strength for the Patriots after trading for Shelton.
Starters: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy
Reserves: Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin, Harvey Langi, Nicholas Grigsby, Brandon King
Here’s the Patriots’ biggest remaining defensive need. The Patriots would be fine with Hightower and Van Noy as starters, but they need better depth at the position. Navorro Bowman, Jonathan Casillas and Paul Worrilow are still available as free agents. The Patriots also should draft a young athletic linebacker.
Starters: Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty
Reserves: Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz
If the season started today, the Patriots would be fine at cornerback with McCourty replacing Malcolm Butler. Adding some more youth into the equation through the draft wouldn’t be the worst thing, however.
Starters: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
Reserves: Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner, David Jones, Damarius Travis
The Patriots could upgrade their No. 4 spot over Richards, but that’s a luxury rather than a necessity. Getting a player like Stanford’s Justin Reid could make sense since he also plays in the slot.
K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
There’s no need to spend any real capital on special teams. Some low-risk competition wouldn’t hurt.
Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images