The Patriots’ free agency pickup run is, for the most part, over. There are few viable free agent options in any position available for any team at this point. So what’s next?
The Pats were successful in free agency, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done building. There’s still some need on the roster, and the team will most likely look to the draft and to trades to get those spots filled.
Some of the biggest holes are still in the defensive line. With the defensive ends, there isn’t much good depth behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. The linebackers took a hit with the departures of Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher. The need for defensive tackles isn’t as urgent now that Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are both back with restructured contracts, but it’s something to consider with their age. Having a good, solid defense is arguably the most important part of football, so it’s never a bad idea to draft guys to build up when there’s a foreseeable need rather than an immediate one.
Once upon a time, the Patriots relied a lot on their tight ends, and it was a great system. But with Aaron Hernandez embroiled in a murder trial and star Rob Gronkowski constantly on and off of the injury reports, that system has changed drastically. If Gronkowski can stay healthy, the Patriots could move back to that tight end tandem, but they’d need a better tight end. Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams are their only other TEs. It’s unlikely that they’d be able to get a good deal from a trade, so they should look to see who is left in the draft. It’s been mentioned that wide receiver Brandon LaFell has the ability to play tight end, but that’s most likely not going to happen in 2014.
As we mentioned before, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, and Brandon Bolden will all be up for free agency this season. Jonas Gray is under contract until 2015, but that’s about it. The Patriots will host former Chicago running back Michael Bush, who recorded 197 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown. Bush has 29 rushing TDs in six seasons in the league.