The roster building portion of the offseason has pretty much come and gone, but yet the Patriots still have a few needs that need some addressing before training camp opens at some point this summer.
New England lost a number of key players this offseason and while some of its draftees will help replace them, not all positions were addressed.
Here are a few areas of need and spots to keep an eye on between now and the summer.
1. Wide receiver
As of now, the Patriots currently have a wide receiver depth chart of Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Marqise Lee, Damiere Byrd, Quincy Adeboyejo, Will Hastings, Isaiah Zuber, Devin Ross, Sean Riley and Jeff Thomas. That's not exactly the deepest group and even the players who were on the team last year have some questions.
Edelman will be 34 years old and takes a beating each and every game. Sanu is had offseason ankle surgery and it’s unclear how he will bounce back, and then no one knows what Harry and Meyers will be like in their second year. While the team did add some veterans this offseason, those are not locks to step in and make the team. It would be in the Patriots’ best interest to continue to scour the free agent wide receiver market and add another veteran or two with actual NFL experience before training camp opens.
2. Backup center/interior line
While not a top priority since it is a backup role, it should be on the Patriots’ mind given what they have. David Andrews will be back, but no one knows for sure how he will react following missing all of last season due to blood clots in his lungs. It’s possible at the beginning he’s not fully back to 100 percent and maybe cannot take all of the snaps. Seventh-rounder Dustin Woodard is the only player on the roster with real experience at the position, so another body would be beneficial.
Also, Joe Thuney’s situation still bears watching. Currently, he’s signed his franchise tag deal which has him counting for just under $15 million against the salary cap. There’s still a chance he’s traded and if that happens the team will definitely need some veteran depth on the interior. Thuney also could serve as a backup center, but even if the team plans for that, it still needs another backup interior lineman. Ideally, the Patriots would add a veteran who has experience at all three interior spots. For what it’s worth, James Ferentz, who has experience with the team, fits that bill and is still available.
3. Defensive line
The Patriots got away with not having much depth at this spot last year, but with Lawrence Guy being 30 years old, he cannot be counted on to play as much as he has the past several seasons. Besides Guy, there’s Adam Butler, Byron Cowart, Beau Allen, Nick Thurman, Nick Coe, Courtney Wallace and Bill Murray at the position. Of that group, only Butler and Allen have real NFL experience, so it would be wise to search for a player who has played in the league and could add some depth to the position. It helps that these players are generally low cost.
Right now, rookie Justin Rohrwasser, who the team selected in the fifth round, is the only kicker on the roster. It wouldn’t be smart to go into training camp with just one kicker on the team. Ideally, Rohrwasser would impress enough over the summer to earn the job, but the Patriots need to have a backup plan in case that doesn’t happen. Sure, they could sign a kicker still available prior to the start of the season, but it makes more sense to have someone already in the system who can help push and teach the rookie out of Marshall.