Much of the Patriots chatter this offseason has been about how Bill Belichick and Co. can fix the offense.
Ironing out the quarterback situation should be New England’s top priority this spring, but the Patriots also need improvements on the defensive side of the ball.
The Patriots defense was OK at best over the course of the 2020 season. New England most often was exposed up front, as its defensive line and linebacker depth ranked among the weakest in the league. In turn, the Patriots undoubtedly should be in the market for front-seven players this offseason.
What players should New England target? ESPN NFL writer Matt Bowen, for one, likes the idea of defensive end Melvin Ingram joining Belichick’s defense.
“Ingram is likely past his prime, and he didn’t have a sack in five games last season. But he’s talented. And in Bill Belichick’s defense, I could see the Patriots using Ingram as a schemed-up pass-rusher who can slant inside off stunts or loop to the edge,” Bowen wrote.
“This would be a great match for a veteran who has 49 career sacks — and is the type of low-cost, high-ceiling move Belichick likes to make.”
Ingram had a down season by his standards in 2020, but he was one of the NFL’s better edge defenders in the campaigns prior. The 31-year-old racked up a combined 43 sacks, 60 tackles for loss and 92 quarterback hits between the 2015 and 2019 seasons. Belichick has a history of seamlessly adding veteran players to his defense later in their careers, so it’s easy to understand why Bowen is intrigued by Ingram’s potential in Foxboro.
The Patriots are expected to receive a defensive boost from within via the return of linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who opted out of the 2020 season. Adding a player like Ingram to bolster the pass rush probably would be a sharp follow-up move for New England.