There is a lot of talk about next season for the Patriots (obviously since this season came to a screeching halt) and just what they should do in the draft and free agency. Let’s take a look and see just what the Patriots need to be a legit contender next season and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not much. I think when you go to the Super Bowl and then follow it up by an albeit depressing, but successful year making it to the AFC Championship there aren’t many things you have to do. Some fans choose the “In Belichick we trust” motto, but I like to weigh the options and address what you all want to know.
As far as Wes Welker I would expect he comes back, but it will be up to Welker to bring down his asking price to a price that fits his skill set more. Wes Welker is the heart of the offense, but he won’t be as effective on another team in the NFL and he is a 31 year old, 5’8 slot receiver that takes a pounding; eventually it catches up (I’m going to get so much crap for saying that). We as Patriots fans value Wes Welker, but you can get relatively what you get from Welker from Edelman for way less and if that doesn’t work you can even shift Brandon Lloyd to slot if he’s not too scared of the middle. Lloyd is just as quick; he’s a great route runner and has better hands than Welker. You don’t get exactly the same results, but they will be pretty damn close.
Offensively they are right where they want to be, but bringing in a big target that poses a deep threat will make this offense average 50 points a game. This offense seemingly has it all, but when it comes down to it no defense has to fear them deep which shrinks the field and makes defenses job easier. Some notable names on the free agent market are Dwayne Bowe from Kansas City and Greg Jennings from Green Bay. I say forget those guys because the one I want is in Pittsburgh right now and his name is Mike Wallace. He was put on a “franchise tag” this past year because Wallace and the Steelers couldn’t reach an agreement. Wallace is Boldin-like, but is able to stretch the field more consistently. What I mean by Boldin-like is he’s a big receiver that doesn’t mind being physical and that’s the attitude we need.
Defense for the Patriots is not as big of a question mark as is being portrayed and maybe I’m in the minority on this one. They need a few players in a few positions, but for the most part I think they just need time; it’s the youngest defense Belichick has ever coached. Maturity on the defensive ball is the Patriots biggest struggle in my opinion because you will see missed tackles, corner backs not turning their head around and an occasional blown gap assignment, but the main point we should all see is the players ARE there they just aren’t making the play. The only thing I would leave untouched is the line backing crew; they are pretty talented all around.
The Patriots biggest needs defensively are anything resembling a pass rush because it’s awful and a viable safety. There is no one really out there so it will most likely be filled through the draft. I like some of the things Gregory has done this year, but big picture he’s a special team’s player. A notable name could be someone as unlikely as Ed Reed. He will be a free agent and a Baltimore radio host thinks he might be on the out as he gets older. Wouldn’t he just fit perfectly; Belichick salivates for that guy. Assuming they bring back Talib, another need is a nickel corner that can be a legit back-up if Talib or Dennard go down again. Third corners often get stuck covering the slot position (Aka Wes Welker types) so their value shouldn’t be sold short.
That’s all I’m looking for the Patriots to do this offseason and if they solve those problem areas they will be raising the Lombardi Trophy once again. In an early prediction, I predict you will see the Patriots get to and win Super Bowl next season, but for this year let’s just watch a Super Bowl we don’t have to be biting our nails over. I also love to hear what you guys think are the Pats biggest needs or if you hate these suggestions so feel free to comment below or tweet at me @TitleTownTalkSB.