After Vollmer, what next for Pats?

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
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The Patriots were able to retain their top remaining free agent when they reached an agreement with right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on Sunday, which, as colleague Mike Reiss writes, also keeps the starting offensive line from 2012 intact.

It also means that the team re-signed two of its top three free agents this offseason, with cornerback Aqib Talib now under contract through next season.

The question to ask now is, "What's left for the Patriots this offseason?"

From a positional perspective, the team still needs to build its depth at both cornerback and wide receiver. If Alfonzo Dennard does not face jail time from his April 2012 arrest, the team has its top three cornerbacks in place, as Kyle Arrington also was brought back in free agency. Veteran Marquice Cole also was re-signed, and Ras-I Dowling returns from injury, but one more capable cornerback could go a long way to solidifying the group.

Wide receiver is an even bigger area of need at this juncture. While the team has added both Danny Amendola and Donald Jones, it is still in need of a perimeter receiver to fill the role that Brandon Lloyd played last season. The free agent market doesn't have a ton of experienced names left (as of this writing there isn't an update on restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who recently visited the team), which could lead the Patriots to draft a receiver next month.

There are a number of high-upside wide receivers who could be available when the Patriots pick at No. 29, with names such as Justin Hunter of Tennessee and Keenan Allen of Cal among those that come to mind.

Beyond wide receiver and cornerback, other positions that could use a boost include both defensive tackle and defensive end. The team could look to find a player to tag-team with Vince Wilfork on the interior, and also might be looking for a veteran pass rushing presence, as was indicated by the recent visits from both John Abraham and Dwight Freeney.

While the feeling here is that the team could experiment with new safety Adrian Wilson as a sub package linebacker, the Patriots may also look to add a full-time linebacker with coverage skills.

The Patriots have a track record of finding quality free agents after the first wave of signings, and though there aren't a ton of big-name players still on the market, the Patriots will naturally continue to stay on top of both free agency and the draft to round out their roster.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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