New England Patriots' Top Remaining Offseason Priorities
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The New England Patriots have already done a great job in the offseason, but still have some major decisions to make before the 2013 season starts.
The Pats desperately need to pick up some receivers for Tom Brady. Having Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Amendola is great, but the Pats still need to find a deep threat.
New England also needs to strengthen its pass defense which certainly needs much improvement. There are options for the Patriots as they fill in the missing pieces on both sides of the ball through free agency and the draft.
Here are the top priorities for the Patriots for the rest of the offseason.
Sign a Deep Threat for Tom Brady
Devery Henderson was a good deep threat for Drew Brees.
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The Patriots are very thin at wide receiver and need to pick up one through free agency. Tom Brady needs a new deep threat and there are many speedy free-agent receivers.
First off is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has tremendous speed and was a top-10 pick in 2009. The former Maryland Terrapin was productive in his past two seasons and caught 11 touchdowns over four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Heyward-Bey would flourish by having Brady at quarterback.
Free agent Early Doucet was limited last season and not much of a factor in the Arizona Cardinals' offense. It's not all his fault, though, as the Cardinals did not have a reliable quarterback and even Larry Fitzgerald was negatively affected in 2012.
Two season ago, however, the 6'0" Doucet caught over 50 passes for five touchdowns. He could be solid in a Patriots uniform this season.
Former Saints receiver Devery Henderson was a big weapon for Drew Brees over nine seasons, grabbing 20 touchdown passes. While he may be on the downside of his career, Henderson could still be a solid deep threat for Brady.
Another option may be Steve Breaston who spent the past two seasons with the Chiefs. Like Doucet, Breaston had a tough 2012 season. He has been solid over his career, however, having at least 700 receiving yards in four of his six seasons in the league.
For the Pats to use Danny Amendola and the tight ends effectively, they will need somebody to be a deep threat to stretch the defense.
Pick Up a Solid Cornerback in the Draft
Jamar Taylor would fit in very well with the Patriots.
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There is no question that the Patriots need to address the secondary in this year's draft with some talented cornerbacks in this class that the team could snag with its early picks.
Taylor racked up four interceptions and three forced fumbles during his senior season. His ability to force turnovers would be a huge addition for the Patriots.
Another great pickup would be cornerback Desmond Trufant of the Washington Huskies. He has a lot of promise and has shown great athleticism and quickness in coverage.
Trufant is a versatile player and would be utilized in a number of ways by the Pats.
There is also Johnthan Banks who played in the rough SEC with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Banks, who has tremendous size for a cornerback standing at 6'2", is versatile as well and could come through with some clutch interceptions for the Patriots.
Making sure that the future is secure at cornerback by taking one early in the draft would be a smart move by the Pats.
Sign a Veteran Starting Cornerback
The Pats need to pick up a starter opposite to Talib at CB.
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Though it is important for the Patriots to draft a cornerback, it is almost just as important for them to try to pick up a free-agent veteran at the position as well.
He has 39 interceptions in 10 seasons in the league and just last season, Hall put up a solid campaign with a career-high 68 solo tackles. This veteran would be a tremendous addition for the Pats.
His best season came in 2010 when he had five interceptions, 87 tackles and knocked down 23 passes. The one question about Grimes is how he will return from an Achilles injury which may scare away a lot of teams.
Bringing in Terence Newman would be a solid move by the Patriots as well. For 10 seasons, Newman has been a consistent cornerback and has collected 34 interceptions.
Tracy Porter would also be a nice addition to the Pats' secondary. He could fit in as the nickelback or No. 3 cornerback and would not be too expensive for NE.
Adding a reliable veteran cornerback to play opposite of Aqib Talib would be a smart decision, meaning the Patriots would not have to rely too heavily on Kyle Arrington.
Draft a Reliable Wide Receiver in the Early Rounds
Terrance Williams could be dangerous with Tob Brady.
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The Pats should definitely make sure to add a wide receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The team may not have to take a receiver in the first round, although it would be smart to do so. If not, they could still find a reliable set of hands in Rounds 2 and 3 as well.
He also played well as a junior with Robert Griffin III at quarterback, but played even better last season with 12 touchdowns. Williams has great size at 6'2" and would be a fantastic red-zone target for Brady.
Former USC Trojans receiver Robert Woods could become a great NFL receiver as well. What makes Woods such a great prospect is his route-running and quickness.
Da'Rick Rogers, of Tennessee Tech, would be an intriguing pick for New England and will likely be available in Rounds 2 or 3. Rogers has amazing size and a ton of potential despite the off-field issues that forced him off of the Tennessee Volunteers' squad in August.
Unlike Rogers, receiver Justin Hunter was a key contributor for the Volunteers last season and was very productive. Hunter has a 6'4" frame that cannot be ignored and also topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2012.
The Patriots must address the need for a wide receiver early on in this year's draft.
Re-Sign Julian Edelman
Edelman is a great utility player and has been solid with NE.
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The Patriots should definitely bring back wide receiver and special teams player Julian Edelman, who has been a great role player and has played well while in New England.
With open opportunities at the receiver position, Edelman could be used more on offense. He can play in the slot at times and the Pats could use him often with quick routes.
Edelman not only brings a solid game as a receiver, but is also a great player on special teams. The former college quarterback has returned punts and kickoffs with the Pats, returning three punts for touchdowns.
He has also played defense on occasion and was having a strong 2012 season before injury. On offense, Edelman caught three touchdowns in nine games for the Patriots last season.
The Pats need to add some depth at receiver and since Edelman would not be an expensive addition, it makes sense to bring him back.
Sign a Veteran Pass-Rusher
Parker and Chandler Jones would be great in the Pats' pass rush.
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Chandler Jones showed In 2012 that he is going to be animal for the Patriots at defensive end for years to come. The team could still use a veteran defensive end to bring some pressure from the other side as well.
A good option for the Pats would be Juqua Parker who can still produce, even after 12 seasons in the league. Last season, Parker corralled six sacks and forced two fumbles.
Parker would not be a star with the Pats, but he would bring veteran leadership and solid pass-rush skills.
John Abraham is possibly the best defensive end available on the market. Abraham recorded an impressive 10 sacks last season with the Atlanta Falcons and can still get to the quarterback with ease.
Another legitimate threat would be Dwight Freeney, who has had an amazing career with the Indianapolis Colts. Freeney has been superb in his 11 seasons in the league, amassing 107.5 sacks along the way.
The Pats could definitely use any of these three veterans, but Parker could be a smarter addition since Abraham and Freeney may be out of the team's price range. Continuing to build the defense should be the Pats' top priority.