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#PostPulpit Mailbag: What are New England’s biggest offseason needs?

You asked, Brian Hines answered.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

NFL Draft season is in full swing as the New England Patriots coaching staff concluded their week at the Shrine Bowl with a 12-3 victory. New England now turns their attention to the Senior Bowl on Saturday where DeMarcus Covington serves as one of the defensive coordinators.

With free agency on the calendar before the draft, we’ll touch on all things offseason in this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

@Mc2Jason What do you want to see the Patriots do in free agency and the draft???

Address their needs. It sounds simple, but the Patriots’ biggest needs currently reside at some of the most premium positions in the sport (offensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback).

At the offensive tackle spot, frequent readers know I’d advocate for them to sign one and draft one. Trent Brown is on an expensive contract and could become a cap casualty while every player that took a snap for them at right tackle last season (Wynn, Cajuste, McDermott, Cannon) is set to hit free agency. They need an overhaul at this position.

As for wide receiver, this room could look very different next year with Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor hitting free agency. Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker also have just one-year left on their deal and could be released to create cap space. To me, the biggest box to check here is to find the right receiver to play the slot/Z-receiver in Bill O’Brien’s offense. Maybe it’s someone of the roster or perhaps you have to go out and acquire such player (Jerry Jeudy? Draft?).

The third biggest need is cornerback and just resigning Jonathan Jones is not the answer. He’d obviously be welcomed back, but New England needs some size along the boundary at the position. Lucky for them that appears to be an early strength of this year’s draft class. Wouldn't surprise me to see them pick a lengthy cornerback on Day 2.

From there, New England will have to check off some other boxes as well. The second tier of needs include finding a true James White replacement (Ty Montgomery? Pierre Strong Jr.?), adding another off-ball linebacker with more athleticism, and a free safety (especially if Devin McCourty retires). Tier three includes specialists - specifically figuring out the punter position - and tight end.

@MikeD30607280 Your take on best OLT in draft.

Good news for the Patriots is this year’s offensive tackle class rules. There’s at least four or five surefire first-round selections and a strong group just below them that will go Day 2. To me, it’s hard to go wrong with players like Peter Skoronski, Broderick Jones, or Paris Johnson Jr. Either would be great but Jones might be my personal favorite be a margin (give me all the Joneses).

Behind the top three, tackles such as Dawand Jones, Darnell Wright, Jaelyn Duncan are currently projected to go in the second round but easily could work their way up. Tyler Steen and Warren McClendon are two other names to potentially watch later on Day 2.

@Skywal1Thaddeus If the Pats decide to draft or sign a pass catching RB, what names should they consider?

The first question New England should address here is is the pass catching back already on the roster? Are they confident in Ty Montgomery returning from injury to handle those duties or did Pierre Strong show enough behind the scenes to take on that role in his sophomore season?

If the answer is no, they have to go look elsewhere. In the draft, USC’s Travis Dye was a name that jumped out to me in the Shrine Bowl due to his productivity and versatility in college. But, he’s coming off a season-ending leg injury and has amassed over 700 touches already.

At the Senior Bowl, Illinois’ Chase Brown was an interesting watch. He had some struggles, but improved in pass protection throughout the week and has track star speed. Coming from former Patriots’ assistant Bret Bielema’s program, perhaps a potential fit there in the middle of the draft.

@Brian_Pelo #PostPulpit With the potential fire sale of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, what are your thoughts about the Patriots acquiring Chris Godwin? Is it feasible capwise, what would the expected compensation be? Is it doable?

@ChillJoe26 Should Bill call about the Bucs receivers?

Depending on who Tampa Bay brings in as their next quarterback I could see them selling off some of their players, especially as they enter the new year above the salary cap. The soon-to-be 27-year old Godwin has just two years left on his contract. A pre-June 1 trade would free up $8.75 million in cap space for Tampa but comes with a $15 million dead cap hit. If they wait till post-June 1, those numbers moves significantly in their favor with just a $3.75 million dead cap hit and $20 in savings.

It’s a similar story for Mike Evans. A pre-June 1 trade results in just over $2 million in cap savings and a dead cap hit over $21 million. If they wait until after June 1 the dead cap hit reduces to roughly $9.2 million with $14.5 million savings.

The timeline on both of those players makes potential deals interesting. I wouldn't hang my hat on either for the Patriots.

@WolfesGoneGrey The offense looked sluggish this year. (Coaching situation did not help.)- there was no crispness, no explosiveness. I see many picks out there indicating speed, but speed does not equal suddenness. Thoughts on players that could correct this?

It’s a strong point as the Patriots went out last year and acquired some of the fastest players in the draft (Tyquan Thornton, Pierre Strong Jr.) but the results still were not there. It’s not about just getting the speed but using it correctly. Bill Belichick has always been known to put his players in the best situations to succeed but they did a poor job utilizing their weapons last season.

Hopefully that changes with a new coaching staff and players like Thornton and Strong will be able to showcase that speed more.

@Cheky011 Do you think Devin McCourty retires this year?

My gut would say yes. But, I would gladly take DMac back for another season. He obviously has lost a step physically, but he still plays an extremely important position in the defense at a high level.

@kirb410 BB drafting a Kicker yet again?

I could see it as Nick Folk is not getting any younger. Quinn Nordin is still with the team after spending the year on the non-football injury list so it will be interesting to see if the team views him as apart of their future plans. If they were to draft a kicker, Michigan’s Jake Moody put on a show in front of New England’s staff in the Shrine Bowl Thursday night.

@FRunner08 How could the Patriots sign Lamar Jackson?

Paying him a lot - and I mean a lot - of money.

@BrianCo84 Can Nick Folk kick that stupid groundhog to the moon??

Let’s let Quinn Nordin handle that fraud Punxsutawney Phil. He’ll send him to the sun.

@ReadNFLtweets Does Brady sign a 1 day?

@RamoDelMar I have a bet going with my wife, do you think Tom will sign a one day deal with the Pats?

The one day contract is interesting to me. We know Mr. Kraft wants it but does Brady want it after how things went down when he originally left? Plus, he’s still under contract so those logistics could be funky.

Personally, I don't really care if he gets it or not. I just hope they plan on a bigger retirement ceremony on a stand alone day. No halftime of a game or during the Patriots Hall of Fame ceremony. Pick a day, invite all his former teammates, coaches, and maybe even some rivals like Peyton Manning to share stories. Something like Larry Bird’s ceremony comes to mind.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!