Roughly a week into free agency, the Patriots look a lot different than they did just seven days ago.
The biggest change is obviously losing Tom Brady, but he wasn’t the only player the team lost. In addition, Stephen Gostkowski, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Nate Ebner, Ted Karras and Elandon Roberts will not be back in 2020.
The team has added a few players in safety Adrian Phillips, safety/special-teamer Cody Davis, quarterback Brian Hoyer, linebacker Brandon Copeland, fullback Dan Vitale, defensive lineman Beau Allen and wide receiver Damiere Byrd.
So, after all that, what are the biggest needs at the moment?
1. Tight end
This was arguably the biggest need going into the offseason and yet it still has not been addressed. Some of the bigger names are now off the board, but some names to keep an eye on are Jordan Reed, Darren Fells, Tyler Eifert and Eric Tomlinson. It’s also very likely the team addresses the position in the draft as well. New England absolutely cannot go into next season with just Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, so this position needs to be added to — and will be.
Stephen Gostkowski was released after 14 seasons on Monday, which leaves the Patriots with no kickers on the roster. After Gostkowski landed on injured reserve last year, it showed just how valuable he was over the years, as there were times where the offense was forced to stay on the field on fourth down because there was no confidence in making a long field goal. It’s likely the team will look to find the next Gostkowski/Adam Vinatieri in the draft. One name to keep an eye on is Rodrigo Blankenship out of Georgia.
With Van Noy, Collins and Roberts all leaving, more needs to be added besides Copeland. Dont’a Hightower is going to be 31 years old next season so it may be time to find the next linebacker of the future via the draft. This is a popular position for the team to select at pick No. 23 overall with a few intriguing names likely being available. Besides Hightower, there’s really only Ja’Whaun Bentley on the roster as a true linebacker.
4. Defensive line
The Patriots dodged a bullet at this position last year with Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton not getting injured because there really wasn’t much depth behind them. After losing Shelton to the Lions, Allen was added, but it feels like another player or two needs to be added. One of those players could be via the draft and it also shouldn’t be hard to find a player still available as a free agent on the cheap.
5. Wide receiver
This position has a decent amount of depth in Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Byrd, but a few more pieces are needed. It will be interesting to see what they do in the draft because it is said to be a historic class, but with Harry and Meyers already in place, how many young receivers are too many? Adding a solid veteran with a lot of experience would be nice for whatever quarterback is under center at the start of 2020.