New England Patriots free agency 2018: 5 potential upgrades at linebacker

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Dont'a Hightower
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Dont'a Hightower /
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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With free agency approaching, the New England Patriots will be looking to address their weakness at linebacker.  Here are 5 free agent targets that would upgrade the position.

Due to injuries and a lack of depth, the New England Patriots linebacker group was one of the weaknesses of the team.

Exposed in Super Bowl LII and throughout most of the season, the unit lacked speed and a general awareness in pass coverage.  With an inability to set the edge, opposing running backs found consistent success running the ball towards the outside of the Patriots’ defense until the team signed veteran linebacker James Harrison.

The fact that the team had to depend on a 39-year-old linebacker summed up how desperate the Patriots were to patch up that weakness.  It did not help in pass coverage, as teams constantly found success against the Patriots second level of defense.

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While veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy had a solid season, players like Elandon Roberts and Marquis Flowers showed flashes, but lacked consistency against the run and in covering running backs out of the backfield.

Some of the issues the linebackers had should be fixed with the return of Dont’a Hightower and promising rookie linebacker Harvey Langhi.  Then again, the Patriots would be relying on the health of Hightower and the youth and experience of Langhi.

That’s why one of the offseason needs in free agency has to be to sign a reliable linebacker to go with both Hightower and Van Noy.

There will be quite a few available on the market and here are five linebackers the team should sign.