5 Players New England Patriots Must Chase for Success Next Season
By evidence of their second Super Bowl defeat in four years, the New England Patriots need to bring in some new blood in order to finally take that proverbial next step to a fourth Super Bowl title.
The Patriots have usually done a good job year in and year out by collecting a good amount of talent through the draft and free agency and will look to do so once again in what's going to be a very long offseason for the team.
They have to worry about Wes Welker's contract, but must bring in some fresh faces. Here are five players the Patriots must go after—either through the draft or free agency—in order to make another run at a championship and possibly win it next year.
Brent Grimes: DB (5'10", 183 Lbs)
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Brent Grimes will be an unrestricted free agent come the beginning of the new league year.
Since the Atlanta Falcons have another high-priced cornerback in Dunta Robinson, they may choose to slap Grimes with a franchise tag.
If they do not, the Patriots should take a serious look at Grimes.
The Patriots' biggest problem all season long, especially during the Super Bowl, was poor play from their cornerbacks. The Giants receivers simply made the Patriots defensive backs look bad at multiple points of the game. The Patriots had no answer for Hakeem Nicks as he caught 10 passes for more than 100 yards.
Grimes was a part of an Atlanta secondary that let Nicks gain more than 100 yards and score twice during the Wild Card Round a month ago, but when looking at who is available in the free-agent market, Grimes is the best out there.
Whitney Mercilus: DE (6'4", 265 Lbs)
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As the Patriots see every time they play the Giants, a good pass rush can help you stop almost any offense and win a lot of games.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they have not had this luxury ever since veteran defensive end Andre Carter suffered a season-ending injury.
What the Patriots need is a young stud to rush the passer similar to what the Giants have in Jason Pierre-Paul.
Enter Whitney Mercilus out of Illinois. Since the Patriots are picking at No. 31, Mercilus has a chance to fall right into their laps.
Mercilus is an athlete the Patriots sorely lack coming from the outside. He's big, long and athletic, which means Bill Belichick could use him in a number of different ways.
Mario Williams: DE (6'6", 283 Lbs)
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If the Patriots go the free-agent route with a rush defensive end, they could go after Mario Williams—if he's healthy.
Again, he is a guy that can get the job done without his hand on the ground, which means another guy for Belichick to put in different places and spots on the field in an attempt to confuse offenses.
Not sure if the Pats can afford this, but if they can draft Mercilus and and somehow sign Williams, who is an unrestricted free agent, it will be a real coup and create a good, if not great pass rush for them.
But all of this depends on whether he's healthy.
Vincent Jackson: WR (6'5", 230 Lbs)
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The Patriots have a ton of weapons on offense. They really do not need a lot of help here. But if there's one thing they have trouble with, it's stretching the field. When they had Randy Moss, they became a little more one-dimensional, but it still turned out to be one of the best offenses in NFL history.
Stretching the field is something Vincent Jackson is more than capable of doing. In 2011, Jackson caught 60 passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns. But the big stat that will be very important to the Pats is that he averaged a little more than 18 yards per catch.
The Patriots are usually pretty good with working the salary cap and could possibly fit Jackson on to the payroll. The only hitch may be that Jackson will look for a long-term deal if he does not get a franchise tag from San Diego.
Ben Grubbs: G (6'3", 310 Lbs)
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Ben Grubbs will not be replacing left guard Logan Mankins, but he could replace right guard Brian Waters on the right side.
Waters is a good guard that brings veteran leadership, but the reason why is a veteran leader is because he is in his 12th season and is up in age.
Grubbs is much younger than Waters and is just as productive.
The Achilles' heel for the Pats during the last two Super Bowls was protecting the "golden boy" Tom Brady when they really needed to. Grubbs could bolster an already-good offensive line.