Dec 2, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) in a game against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency: Assessing New England's Situation

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Their team isn’t perfect, but there are much fewer holes in their roster now, than when the free agency period began. I would put defensive tackle, defensive end, and tight end at the top of their “needs” list.

Vince Wilfork is likely to be cut, which will leave the middle of their defense extremely thin. I don’t see any great free agent defensive tackles left on the market, so this has to be addressed through the draft. Louis Nix III seems like the perfect replacement for Wilfork, although he will probably command a late first round pick, or a very early second rounder.

The Patriots have two quality defensive ends in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but they need some depth. Those two played 95% of the defensive snaps in 2013, which is just ridiculous. One of the top edge rushers on the market was signed by Green Bay yesterday, as Julius Peppers inked a three year deal with the Pack. That is way too much money for New England to spend on someone that wouldn’t even be starting. So at this point, I think Bill Belichick and company will just have to find bargain free agents, and maybe try to select some pass rushing talent in this year’s draft.

As for the tight ends, I have been pulling for the Pats to draft Jace Amaro this year, and my position on that has not changed. New England has a fine backup “blocking” tight end in Michael Hoomanwanui, but they need a receiving threat to pair/insure Rob Gronkowski. I don’t see any price friendly guys that can do this in free agency, so I say fill this need with the younger college prospects.

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