The Patriots have some actions on their check list before the start of free agency at 4pm on March 11th.
They need to release Isaac Sopoaga to create an additional $2.08mm of cap space (remember that a player at the bottom of the roster will start to count against the cap so his full cap saving won't be realized).
They need to try their best to sign Aqib Talib to a contract that won't extend the Patriots too thin on the cap boundaries.
They need to restructure Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Dan Connolly, Stephen Gostkowski, Matthew Slater, and Devin McCourty, not just to reduce their cap hits, but to keep them within the franchise for a few more years.
And then they need to address whatever holes are leftover once free agency opens.
They need to think about adding depth to the safety position, due to the release of Steve Gregory. They need to have contingency plans at cornerback in case Talib isn't signed.
They need to address their interior offensive line with the potential departure of Ryan Wendell- and the potential cap casualty in Dan Connolly.
They need to bring back depth at linebacker as the loss of both free agents Brandon Spikes and Dan Fletcher would all of a sudden turn a position of strength into one of potential need.
How will the Patriots evaluate their defensive tackle position? Will they bring in a veteran defensive end for the rotation? What about the future of the wide receiver position? Are there any tight ends worth signing?
How does their draft plan factor into free agency?
You have to remember that if you think a position should be filled in the draft, then jumping for a top veteran in free agency might not be the most economic move. And if you believe that a position can't afford to wait for a player to grow (do we want a rookie manning the interior line and protecting Tom Brady?), then maybe what could be a developmental position in the draft escalates into a priority move in free agency.
So we come to you for a discussion. Assuming the Patriots are able to restructure the necessary contracts and free the expected cap space, what are the Patriots biggest needs in free agency?
Here's a list of free agents. Who would you like to see the Patriots bring in?