The New England Patriots have had a great offseason, but that doesn’t mean their work is done. Here is their post-free agency needs on defense.
Welcome to the first of a two-part series examining the New England Patriots’ post-free agency needs heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. The Patriots may have won Super Bowl 51, but they have not stood still after the postseason. In fact, they have been very active in the offseason so far.
New England uncharacteristically struck early in free agency, grabbing former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore and signing him to a top-of-the-market deal to become their number one cornerback. They also were very active in the trade market: New England turned their first round draft pick over to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for 23-year old wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
The trades continued with former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen coming to the Patriots from Indianapolis. On the other side of the ball, Super Bowl 50 star and former Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy was added from Carolina. New England also made an under-the-radar move to nab up-and-coming defensive tackle Lawrence Guy from the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
New England also took care of their own: their biggest move this offseason was re-signing Super Bowl 51 hero and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower. Hightower was a key piece who the defense desperately needed to keep. Free safety and fifth defensive back Duron Harmon was also re-signed keeping the excellent group of safeties together.
The Patriots added running back Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati while re-signing special teams ace and backup running back Brandon Bolden. Special teams players Brandon King and Justin Coleman returned along with back-up offensive tackle Cameron Fleming. Veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch returned after testing free agency keeping a key piece in the trenches.
However, despite all the signings and wheeling and dealing, there are still moves to be made by New England to improve their roster. The Patriots still have no resolution to date to the Malcolm Butler Saga.
The Patriots have work to do adding depth on defense. Also Hightower was re-signed they still have a hole at linebacker and need more depth at the defensive end position after free agent Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long left via free agency.
Let’s go further into detail on the Patriots’ needs on both sides of the ball after their offseason moves starting with the defense.