When free agency began, the Patriots main priorities were their “Big 3″ free agents, Sebastian Vollmer, Wes Welker and Aqib Talib. Now that Sebastian Vollmer has agreed to a four year deal, the Pats were able to resign two out of the three guys. Obviously Welker left for the Broncos, but the Pats got the next best thing when they signed Danny Amendola. Locking up Vollmer for four years, and getting Talib to sign were huge moves for New England. It obviously it makes their whole team much better. As I have written numerous times, Vollmer is a huge key for the Patriots offense to run smoothly and Talib is a big difference maker on the defensive side of the ball. With Vollmer back in the fold, the Pats offensive line figures to be another strength for the team in 2013. The safety position was also addressed in the best way possible, as the Pats went out and got former Cardinal Adrian Wilson. He is a physical safety, and is the perfect compliment to Devin McCourty. The cornerback situation is still a bit “murky” for the Patriots however, and that is one of the big needs I see for the Pats heading into next season.
A trio of Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington at corner is solid but not quite perfect. Talib showed that he is a play-maker in 2012 and that is the main reason the Pats brought him back on a one year deal. He is a very aggressive player, and it allows the Pats defense as a whole to be more aggressive and that turns into more positive plays. Dennard has the potential to be great in my opinion and he will continue to develop, and Arrington is solid in the slot but he is pretty awful anywhere else. This is why the Pats should go after a corner in this years draft, or get a corner from what is left of the free agent defensive backs. If Dennard were to face jail time in the upcoming season, then that would force Arrington to play on the outside until Dennard gets back. As all Pats fans know, Arrington outside is an absolute disaster. If the Pats were able to get a player that could have the potential to make some plays on the outside, then I would feel much better about the Patriots secondary.
The second need I see for the Pats at the moment would be a pass rusher. There have been countless rumors surrounding the Patriots and former Falcon John Abraham, but nothing has been confirmed yet. If the Pats are not able to sign Abraham then a pass rusher becomes a big need for them. I would prefer that they went after an interior pass rusher, as that is where they need the most help. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are very good on the edge, but big Vince Wilfork needs help on the inside. We have seen the one thing that seems to slow Tom Brady is pressure up the middle, and if the Pats were able to do that on defense, then their defensive unit instantly becomes much improved. Getting a veteran edge rusher like Abraham or Dwight Freeney would be great as well, because the Pats could really get creative on passing downs with all the pass rushers at their disposal. Maybe even creating a ‘NASCAR’ type of look that the Giants are able to use so effectively (unfortunately for Pats fans).
The last need I see for the Patriots as of right now is receiver. If the season began today, the two starting receivers for the Pats, would be Danny Amendola and Donald Jones. I see Jones as a guy that can come in on three wide receiver packages and make some plays, but I don’t think he is starting material yet. I have been pushing for the Patriots to get Emmanuel Sanders from the Steelers because he would really bring a different element to the Pats receiving core. Amendola and the TE’s would be solid between the numbers, but Sanders is a guy that can make plays outside of the numbers and that has been missing from the Patriots offense for quite awhile. If Sanders isn’t signed then getting a good prospect at receiver in the draft is a necessity for New England. I also could see them bringing back Brandon Lloyd at a reduced salary, because he was solid for them in 2012 despite all the criticism he received.