Things did not end well though; Jones was never the same after his ankle injury and Wilfork was nearly non-existent in the AFC Championship game. Ninko was the only player who made a big impact in the last couple weeks of the season. Do the Patriots need to make a big free-agent splash to upgrade the D-Line? Absolutely not.... BUT maybe adding another credible veteran wouldn't hurt, particularly at the DT position; Wilfork needs to be able to come of the field at times to regain energy.
It is unlikely that the Patriots will sign some of the bigger names, as there is no need (or interest, I'm assuming) to invest big bucks into a position that they already have covered, but here is a list of some of the notable free agent Defensive Linemen (Courtesy of FootballsFuture.com):
1. Richard Seymour DT/DE
2. Osi Umenyiora DE
- Once part of the Giants highly touted D-line, Umenyiora never received the deal that he was looking for and is now testing the market. Unfortunately for him, at 31 years old and coming of a 6 sack season, he will most likely not gain to much interest for a big contract. Could the Patriots maybe show interest? If the price is right...
3. Dwight Freeney DE
- Probably the most talked about free agent DL with regards to the Patriots' interest. Brendan Annely wrote a great piece covering the former Colt's chance of landing in New England. The article will answer a lot of your question, check it out.
4. Desmond Bryant DT
- SB Nation put a lot of thinking into Bryant and the Patriots possibly coming to terms. They seem to believe that the veteran could be a great fit for the Patriots. However, they also said that although the Patriots may put some thought into this beforehand, ultimately they will only seriously pursue him if they are unable to find any DT talent in the draft.
Speaking of the draft, it is hard to overlook Ohio State junior DT, Johnathan Hankins. No, seriously it is physically hard to overlook this guy; he is 6'3", 335 lbs. I previously wrote a brief article about the DT and the possibility of the Patriots drafting him. Unfortunately, NFL.com projects him to be a top 12 pick, but crazier things have happened on draft day. Check out some of his college highlights, this guy would be a perfect protege for Wilfork.
: With today's signing of DL Jason Vega and the previous agreement with DL Armond Armstead, the Patriots have put plenty of faith in the CFL's player development. Will the Patriots continue to add to their D-line in case the CFL plan flunks? It wouldn't hurt. Especially since they could use another solid pass rusher. In the end though, the Patriots are arguably one of the league's toughest teams to predict in regards to player movement.