The New England Patriots have struggled against tough physical, aggressive defenses when it comes to recent postseason play.
Patriots' opponents know the team doesn't have a deep threat and will abandon the run if playing from behind.
If New England wants to advance deeper in the playoffs, they need to identify veteran NFL wide receivers that could come in and be the deep threat the team desperately needs.
One of the few knocks that you can say about the Patriots is that they have struggled under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to develop young wide receivers the way they've developed young tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
By adding a deep threat and fully committing to the running game next season, the Patriots offense could be even more dynamic than the group that scored 557 points last season.
Looking at the potential free-agent crop that might be available come March, four names jumped out from this list compiled by Nate Bouda at NFL Trade Rumors:
Much like the Patriots took Wes Welker from the Dolphins years ago, the 26-year-old Hartline is exactly the type of no-name receiver the team could add to the aging receiving corp.
Who should the Pats sign for a deep threat?
The fourth-year receiver is something of an enigma at this point. Not considered to be a great route runner, but he would stretch any defense the Patriots would play. The 24-year-old is also used to playing the Ravens twice per season.
The 29-year-old Jennings has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, which might make him a little more affordable to the Patriots if they decide to move in his direction.
Avery managed to find a home with the Colts, catching passes from QB Andrew Luck. Avery would help space the field and allow the underneath passing game to work a little easier.
The Patriots are very close to being a Super Bowl team again, but they need to address their wide receiver corps going into next season. Brandon Lloyd could be the only current Pats receiver to return to the team.
New England needs to give Tom Brady help in order to avoid another postseason failure.
Thankfully, there are plenty of good options on the market.