Erik Scalavino takes a top-to-bottom look at the New England roster to see where the most pressing needs may be. Today's snapshot: the offensive line.
One gets the sense, however, that change is coming to an area that has remained unusually consistent over the past several years.
Depending on what happens with the upcoming labor negotiations between the NFL and the players' union, Mankins could become an unrestricted free agent. The possibility of an uncapped year, though, leaves his status in limbo at the moment. His counterpart on the right side, Stephen Neal, openly discussed the idea of retirement following the loss to the Ravens. And Vollmer's emergence raises questions about the future of both Matt Light and Nick Kaczur.
Vollmer isn't the only young player on New England's offensive line who appears to have a bright future either. Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, and Rich Ohrnberger all appear to have found their niches with the Patriots. But this is clearly a position that the team could target for an upgrade or two once the current uncertainty surrounding free agency is settled.
- Andy Hart offers his take on four of the 53 underclassmen set to enter the 2010 Draft: Sam Bradford, Golden Tate, Rolando McClain and Derrick Morgan.
- CBA Questions and Answers: Heading into the swirling uncertainty of a potential uncapped year and the changes that designation brings to the NFL offseason, the league put together a Q and A to help clear up any questions fans might have moving toward March.
- Adam Kilgore offers a quick rundown of all the defensive coordinator moving and shaking.
- Albert Breer puts his money on Matt Patricia to be the Patriots new defensive coordinator.
- Jeff Howe looks at the most difficult personnel decisions Belichick faces in the coming months with four high-profile players who remain under contract.
- Michael Felger, Tom Curran, Troy Brown, Fred Toettcher and Michael Holley look at how to fix the Patriots' play-calling this offseason. (2:36 min. video) They all should have shut up and let Troy Brown talk.
- Adam Kilgore hands out his own 2009 Patriots awards and Sebastian Vollmer wins Best Rookie.
- Mike Reiss offers his 2009 positional review of OLB/DE: Tully Banta-Cain, Adalius Thomas, Derrick Burgess, Rob Ninkovich.
- Mike Reiss notes ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has put together his first NFL mock draft (Insider), and with the 22nd overall pick he gives the Patriots Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Ricky Sapp.
- Kerry Byrne thinks the Patriots have swapped personalities with the Colts. They need to get back to tough football.
- Karen Guregian talks about what separates the Jets from the Pats. Warning: Swagger alert with much arrogant bragging and raving about how tough they are.
- Karen Guregian says former Patriot Damien Woody brought his SB rings with him to San Diego to inspire his Jets teammates.
- Karen Guregian notes Jets CB Darrelle Revis can't stop talking about Randy Moss. If Moss is such a 'slouch' why does Revis keep bragging about stopping him?
- Bill Reynolds says Jets head coach Rex Ryan has breathed new life into the Jets and the NFL.
- Tom Curran asserts the balance of power has shifted from the AFC to the NFC. Really Tom? It might be prudent to have at least one NFC Super Bowl win in the new decade before declaring a change.
- Patriots' hunt for new defensive coordinator. (ESPNBoston) Bruschi offers his take on the
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Freeney thinks Colts' loss to Jets is "irrelevant".
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Jets can make Colts pay for kindness.
- Woody Paige (Denver Post) Mike Nolan right guy, unjust end.
Tim Graham (ESPN) Bills fire personnel chief John Guy.