Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (90) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency: Wide Receiver, Pass Rusher Should Be Next Priority

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) leaps over Denver Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan (not pictured) in the first half of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots have had a terrific offseason thus far. Their secondary is now one of the best units in the league, and by the end of the year, they may beat out Seattle’s group for the number one spot. But they still have a lot of big needs, with the receiver position, and the defensive end position at the top of the list (this is for free agency, defensive tackle can be addressed through the draft). There are still plenty of talented guys left on the market, but if New England waits much longer, no one will be left.

This point has been beaten to death, but as of right now, Tom Brady’s offensive weapons are pretty bad. Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola would be the two starters if the season started today, and while both are solid, that won’t cut it. There have been reports saying that the Patriots are trying really hard to re-sign Julian Edelman, and at this point, I would be happy with that. I have been hoping Emmanuel Sanders would be brought in for quite some time, but it doesn’t seem like either side has much interest. Edelman has a great rapport with Brady, he knows how to get open, and while he lacks the ability to take the top off of a defense, he is better than nothing. If New England lets him walk, their receiving corps would be in shambles. If Amendola can stay healthy, he will have a great year. Maybe even better than Edelman’s 2013 season. But after him, who will step up? Thompkins is a possession receiver, Aaron Dobson just had surgery, and Josh Boyce is coming off of an injury as well. Belichick better be gearing up for a run at some receivers at some point, because Brady deserves to have some quality weapons.

After this is addressed, the Pats should look into signing a veteran pass rusher, who can not only spell Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but become a productive third down pass rusher. Julius Peppers isn’t what he used to be, but I know that he still has some gas left in the tank. As of right now, New England hasn’t shown any interest in him, but it makes sense to me. At this point in his career, I think he would be willing to take a step back, and become more of a situational player. This would help elevate the front four of the Patriots, which is the only thing lagging in what is shaping up to be an elite defensive unit.

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Tags: Emmanuel Sanders Julian Edelman Julius Peppers New England Patriots NFL Free Agency

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