As we approach midseason, the New England Patriots and their fans are understandably in tunnel-vision mode.
Yes, scouts and armchair GMs will constantly give thought to the Pats' future, but the true scouting and signing evaluation does not start for another five months.
Nevertheless, midseason also means we have a more definitive view of the Patriots' weaknesses. Some of these shortcomings were predictable, such as the perilously thin defensive tackle depth. Others have emerged in spite of preseason optimism—for instance, the right interior line has been a struggle all season long.
The Patriots' job is to win now, and Bill Belichick and Co. are only concerned with week-to-week results, as they should be. But as fans, sometimes it is useful to step back and re-evaluate the roster makeup, both to identify pressing weaknesses going forward, as well as potential long-term solutions.
It's hard to completely evaluate the Patriots' future free agent signing potential, especially considering the cap mess created after Aaron Hernandez's release. But taking an early look at the 2014 free-agent class, here are the five players who would best fit with the Patriots' needs and system.
*All stats courtesy Pro Football Focus' premium section (subscription required).