|What’s next on Patriots’ list of priorities?||03.14.13 at 12:43 am ET|
Now that the Wes Welker situation has reached a conclusion, here’s a quick look at some of the other priorities the Patriots have to focus on in the coming days:
1. Resolve the situations involving their own high-priority free agents: Even though Welker (and Donald Thomas and Pat Chung) is out the door, New England still has some key free agents of their own to worry about, particularly cornerback Aqib Talib and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. There has been remarkably little buzz regarding both of them in the first day or two of free agency, but expect that to pick up in the next few days, particularly in Vollmer’s case as more tackles start to come off the board. In addition, there are other free agents like running back Danny Woodhead, wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Kyle Arrington who have to have their own situations addressed sooner rather than later.
2. Make a decision on wide receiver Brandon Lloyd: He’s due a $3 million bonus if he’s on the roster on March 17. It’s not like this will play a huge role in the decision-making process, but the Patriots are extraordinarily thin at the wide receiver spot right now, even with Lloyd in the fold. At this moment, they have four receivers under contract for the 2013 season — Lloyd, Danny Amendola, Kamar Aiken and Matthew Slater. Even though they are deeper than most at tight end — remember, they have Jake Ballard joining a group that includes Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez — that’s amazing.
3. Continue to work the free agent market: Whether it’s because they are doing a good job keeping it quiet or they just aren’t making much noise overall, other than the Amendola move, they have been remarkably quiet when it comes to kicking the tires on available free agents. It’s important to remember that New England has always played it close to the vest when it comes to operating in free agency, so this isn’t necessarily a surprise. But at this point, roughly 36 hours in, they’ve been one of the more quiet teams. (For what it’s worth, there are some intriguing names out there at some positions of need for the Patriots.)
4. Work the pro days: This period remains a key part of the collegiate scouting process, and with pro days continuing throughout the month of March, several members of New England’s scouting department will be on college campuses throughout the country. On several occasions, player personnel chief Nick Caserio has said that the pro day experience — particularly for players who aren’t invited to the combine — can play a colossal role in the overall evaluation of a potential prospect. In addition, private workouts will continue throughout March and into early April as the Patriots try and get a handle on who they should target in next month’s draft. (In that vein, check out DJ Bean’s story here on whether or not New England should try to go after a wide receiver in the draft in hopes of trying to help replace the production offered by departed free agent wide receiver Wes Welker.)
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