With Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton both set to hit free agency when the NFL league year opens Wednesday, defensive tackle stands out as one of the New England Patriots’ greatest offseason needs.

Neither Brown nor Shelton has ruled out the prospect of re-signing, but if the Patriots choose to look elsewhere to shore up their defensive line, here are 10 potential candidates:

Henry Anderson
Age: 27
2018 team: New York Jets
2018 stats: 35 tackles, seven sacks, seven tackles for loss, 16 QB hits, four pass deflections in 16 games
2018 Pro Football Focus rank (among interior defenders): 35th

An end in the Jets’ 3-4, Anderson turned in a career year after signing a one-year prove-it deal last spring. His interior pass-rushing prowess is enticing.

Timmy Jernigan
Age: 26
2018 team: Philadelphia Eagles
2018 stats: two tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit in three games
PFF rank: N/A

The Eagles last week declined Jernigan’s contract option, which would have paid him $13 million this season. An offseason back injury sidelined the former Baltimore Raven for the majority of the 2018 campaign, so expect his next deal to be a more affordable one.

Malik Jackson
Age: 29
2018 team: Jacksonville Jaguars
2018 stats: 32 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, one pass deflection in 16 games
PFF rank: 85th

Jackson made it through half of the six-year, $85.5 million mega-deal he signed with the Jags in 2016 before being released Friday. A Pro Bowler in 2017, his numbers and playing time both diminished this past season.

Mike Pennel
Age: 27
2018 team: New York Jets
2018 stats: 27 tackles, two QB hits in 16 games
PFF rank: T-14th

A solid run defender, Pennel will be a free agent after the Jets declined to pick up his option, which would have locked him up for the next two years. Pennel was suspended twice during his time with the Green Bay Packers for substance abuse violations but played every game in his two seasons in New York, including seven starts in 2018.

Christian Covington
Age: 25
2018 team: Houston Texans
2018 stats: 15 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, four tackles for loss, eight QB hits in 12 games
PFF rank: 44th

Covington set career highs in sacks and QB hits this past season despite missing four games.

Brandon Mebane
Age: 34
2018 team: Los Angeles Chargers
2018 stats: 40 tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, three QB hits in 12 games
PFF rank: 80th

Before the Patriots’ divisional-round matchup with the Chargers, Tom Brady called the veteran Mebane one of the best run defenders he’s ever played against. He’s getting up there in age, though, and hasn’t been a dominant player in recent years. Mebane is one of several Chargers D-tackles set to hit the open market this week.

Darius Philon
Age: 25
2018 team: Los Angeles Chargers
2018 stats: 33 tackles, four sacks, seven tackles for loss, nine QB hits, one forced fumble in 16 games
PFF rank: 72nd

Philon is relatively young and can rush the passer (8 1/2 sacks, 18 QB hits over the last two seasons). He played under Patriots assistant Bret Bielema and alongside Pats D-linemen Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise at Arkansas.

Corey Liuget
Age: 28
2018 team: Los Angeles Chargers
2018 stats: 14 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, five tackles for loss, five QB hits, one fumble recovery in six games
PFF rank: N/A

The third Charger on this list, Liuget was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season after being popped for PEDs, then landed on injured reserve in November after tearing his quad. LA declined to pick up his contract option last month but expressed interest in re-signing the 2011 first-round pick.

Allen Bailey
Age: 29
2018 team: Kansas City Chiefs
2018 stats: 38 tackles, six sacks, five tackles for loss, 10 QB hits, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries in 16 games
PFF rank: 91st

Bailey had one of the most productive seasons of his career in 2018, but he might not have the body type the Patriots are looking for. At 6-foot-3, 288 pounds, he’s much leaner than Brown (320 pounds), Shelton (345) or Lawrence Guy (315).

Ndamukong Suh
Age: 32
2018 team: Los Angeles Rams
2018 stats: 59 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, four tackles for loss, 19 QB hits, two fumble recoveries, four pass deflections in 16 games
PFF rank: 20th

Suh, who was not particularly well-liked by Patriots players during his stint with the Miami Dolphins, is back on the market after one season in LA. He’s no longer the tornado of destruction he was earlier in his career, but he’ll still be one of the better defensive tackles available this spring and should command a hefty paycheck.

Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images