With the team-building process still in its relative infancy, here’s a position-by-position look at how the 2014 Patriots are starting to shape up. It’s important to stress this is by no means a definitive breakdown — there are still plenty of moves to be made on both sides of the ball over the next couple of months. Instead, this is a snapshot of where the roster stands after the first wave of free agency and prior to the draft, comprised of the players who are under contract or have agreed to deals with the team for the upcoming season.
QB: (2) Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett
Analysis: The Patriots always add a late-round or undrafted free agent at quarterback, at the very least to serve as a camp arm.
RB: (3) Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden
Analysis: In a depressed market for running backs, free agent LeGarrette Blount could return for next to nothing if both sides can connect on the specifics.
TE: (2) Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui
Analysis: Given his recent injury history, Gronkowski is by no means a guarantee here, and so they will likely need some more depth. Matthew Mulligan is a distinct possibility to return, and while there’s not much left on the free agent market, it’s conceivable the Patriots use at least one relatively high draft choice (Jace Amaro? Eric Ebron? C.J. Fiedorowicz?) on a pass catching tight end.
OL: (6) Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Chris Barker, Josh Kline.
Analysis: Free agent center Ryan Wendell remains the wild card. If the Patriots can retain him, that would allow last year’s starting group to move forward without any break in consistency. Will Svitek is also a possible re-sign as part of the second wave of free agency. Regardless, at least two more bodies will be added between now and the start of the season.
WR: (6) Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Mark Harrison, Matthew Slater.
Analysis: Like tight end, there’s still the likelihood the Patriots add to this spot soon, perhaps with the re-signing of Julian Edelman. Emmanuel Sanders is also a free agent possibility.
DL: (9) Tommy Kelly, Armond Armstead, Sealver Siliga, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette
Analysis: There’s still some uncertainty about Vince Wilfork‘s status, but regardless of what happens, expect some movement here with the subtraction of some and the addition of others, either in free agency or the draft. In terms of pass rushing defensive ends, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers are also available, and Andre Carter is also a possibility to return. From this viewpoint, we’ve advocated going after one of the talented collegiate prospects like Louis Nix III, Ra’Shede Hageman or Aaron Donald, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them pick up at least one veteran free agent.
LB: (6) Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Steve Beauharnais, Chris White, Ja’Gared Davis
Analysis: If Dane Fletcher can’t find what he’s looking for in free agency, there’s a good chance he’s back in Foxboro in 2014. Beauharnais, White and Davis will all fight for depth and special teams roles.
CB: (5) Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington.
Analysis: Yikes. This appears pretty well locked in, but it wouldn’t be surprise to see the Patriots augment this group with another body or two between now and the start of the season, particularly given the fact that Browner will sit for the first four games of the season because of his PED suspension.
S: (5) Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Adrian Wilson, Duron Harmon
Analysis: This area feels a little light — maybe another area that could use some depth through free agency or the draft. Adrian Wilson is no guarantee to make the final cut, at least not at this point. Kanorris Davis, whop spent the bulk of the 2013 season on the practice squad, is also a possibility as an addition.
Specialists: (3) Punter Ryan Allen, long snapper Danny Aiken, kicker Stephen Gostkowski
Analysis: This spot is locked in, although there could always be some camp competition down the road.