NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
It was clear Malcolm Butler wasn’t going to be re-signed after he was benched for the Super Bowl. With Stephon Gilmore able to handle the bigger receivers, look for New England to target someone to handle the smaller fast receivers.
The absence of Dont’a Hightower left a void. Elandon Roberts hasn’t developed as hoped, and Kyle Van Noy is a role player. New England could use a linebacker who can match up in coverage to help their 30th-ranked pass defense.
Despite finishing seventh in the league in sacks, the Patriots haven’t had a true edge rusher since Chandler Jones. Adrian Clayborn was signed from Atlanta and his presence will help, but they need at least one more athletic edge rusher to help out Derek Rivers.
Starting left tackle Nate Solder signed with the Giants, and that forces the Patriots to decide whether Antonio Garcia is ready to take over after being cleared to return from blood clots. Adding another tackle for depth would be ideal.
Tom Brady turns 41 in August. With Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett being traded during the season, the Patriots need to find a young quarterback to groom and eventually replace Brady.
With Rob Gronkowski seriously flirting with retirement, the Patriots have to be considering finding a replacement. Veteran additions including Dwayne Allen have not panned out, which could lead the Patriots to target one in the middle rounds.
Interior offensive line
New England has three young players starting inside in Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason who have played well at times but have been inconsistent.