The owners and the players are wrapping up a new CBA that’s said to be a 10-year deal. With that, the fast and furious free agency period will commence and every NFL team has to be ready to sign and re-sign players. They also have to bring them in immediately and start the acclimation and teaching process. The Patriots, while in a good position overall compared to most NFL teams, have plenty of work to do as well. Here are the Pats’ Top 5 personnel priorities once the NFL resumes business.
1. Lock up Logan Mankins long-term. The Patriots franchised guard Logan Mankins before the lockout began, and are seemingly willing to pay him the $10.1 million single-year salary it brings. Bill Belichick thinks very highly of Mankins, as evidenced by Belichick’s video presentation of Mankins in the NFL Networks “Top 100″ series. The Pats are in good shape cap-wise, so it’s time to make Mankins happs and make him a long-term fixture on the offensive line.
2. Re-sign LT Matt Light. All players enter camp behind the eight ball, none more so than the rookies. Do the Pats really want a rookie with no camps or exposure to coaching this late protecting Tom Brady’s blindside? I don’t think so either. They need to retain Matt Light to keep Brady upright until rookie Nate Solder is ready.
3. Sign the rookies ASAP. The Pats, like every NFL team, need to get the rookies under contract and in the facility sooner rather than later to try and make up lost time.
4. Sign an outside linebacker. The Pats need more help on the outside, be it a premier pass rusher or a solid depth guy. Both types of players are available in free agency and the right move could help put them over the top come playoff time. (Click HERE for the top 5 OLB free agent spotlights covered a few weeks ago)
5. Sign BC’s Mark Herzlich. This could help settle the OLB problem, though that’s looking more long-term. Herzlich is the best rookie free agent available and he plays a position of need, so it sounds, at least on paper, like a match made in heaven. He also has the support of the entire New England region behind him for his leadership and courageous battle with cancer. He’s not the solution now, but he could certainly help on special teams and provide depth. Let’s get it done.