If the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints was any indication, New England's offensive line is in trouble. Without Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer and Brian Waters—arguably the team's top-three offensive linemen—the Patriots may need to look to free agency for help.
Let's take a look at some viable options for the Patriots:
Jake Scott (Guard)
Between giving Peyton Manning stellar pass protection for four years in Indianapolis and providing enough run-blocking ability for Chris Johnson to tally four consecutive seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards in Tennessee, it's clear that Jake Scott is a well-rounded guard that would add a huge boost to New England's offensive line.
Should Waters decide to retire, Scott could potentially fill the right guard position going forward.
Even if Waters does play this season, Scott could move to left guard while Logan Mankins recovers from ACL surgery.
At this late point in free agency, it seems that the Patriots and Scott could come to a reasonable contract agreement. If that's the case, this seems like a no-brainer.
Stacy Andrews (Tackle/Guard)
The 31-year-old Stacy Andrews is a big body (6'6'', 320 lbs) who has experience playing both tackle and guard positions. He even saw time as a blocking tight end in the New York Giants offense last season.
That kind of versatility has "Patriots" written all over it.
With Marcus Cannon struggling at right tackle, Andrews could be a nice stop-gap until Vollmer can return to health, while also providing depth at both guard spots.
Floyd Womack (Tackle/Guard)
Like Andrews, Floyd Womack would provide veteran depth at both tackle and guard having played both positions throughout his 10-year career.
While certainly not a Pro Bowl talent, Womack's experience alone would likely put him higher on the depth chart than the collection of undrafted rookies the Patriots have along the offensive line.
At 33 years old, Womack is definitely on the back nine of his career. I'm sure he would jump at the chance to take one more run at a Super Bowl title with the AFC's finest in 2012.
Mark LeVoir (Tackle)
Mark LeVoir would find himself in familiar territory in New England, as he played with the team from 2008 to 2010.
LeVoir didn't get many starts in a Patriots jersey, but he did fill the role of "swing tackle" (playing a little of both left and right tackle) pretty well, and at 30 years old, he might still have a little something left in the tank.
Though not a top-tier talent by any stretch of the imagination, LeVoir would certainly add a nice veteran presence to what has become a very young and unproven group of offensive tackles.
One or two of these free-agent signings could patch things up nicely while the starters are out and could also provide quality depth for when (and if) they all return.
Patriot Nation may find solace in the fact that New England boasts the best offensive line coach in the business in Dante Scarnecchia. Unfortunately though, you can't coach talent, and as it stands today, the offensive line is missing a whole lot of it.
Did I miss anyone you think could be a good fit? Sound off in the comments section below!
For more Patriots updates and news, follow James on Twitter @JamesDiMaio.