The New England Patriots have had a great offseason. However, they still have some holes to fill on offense in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Welcome to the second of a two-part series examining the New England Patriots’ post-free agency needs heading into the 2017 NFL Draft (part one examining the defense can be found here). The Patriots may have won Super Bowl 51, but they have not stood still this offseason. In fact, they have been uncharacteristically active in free agency and making trades prior to the 2017 season.
New England finally fulfilled the dreams of their fans by making a big move on the first day of 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. Also on defense, the Patriots traded for former Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy. New England also nabbed under-the-radar defensive tackle/defensive end Lawrence Guy from the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
New England also took care of their own on defense: they re-signed Super Bowl 51 hero and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower; free safety and fifth defensive back Duron Harmon was also re-signed; and veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch returned.
New England also made a number of moves on offense this offseason: New England turned their first round draft pick into 23-year old wide receiver Brandin Cooks; former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen was brought in; they added running back Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati; and re-signed running back Brandon Bolden and offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.
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 Malcolm Butler under contract after he signed his one-year tender deal but rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of him being moved during the 2017 NFL Draft. Back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is in the final year of his rookie contract and could still be traded during the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Patriots still have some work to do on offense. Running back is still a concern after the team has not worked out a deal to keep LeGarrette Blount and his 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns (all stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted). The interior offensive line could use some depth as well and competition to push the young starters.
Let’s go further into detail on the Patriots’ needs on both sides of the ball after their offseason moves finishing with part two focusing on the offense.