The New England Patriots have made clear what their intentions are for free agency in 2012. The Patriots have signed three wide receivers which is more than any other position. However, for a team that had one of the worst defenses in 2011, the Patriots have only signed three players on that side of the ball.
The Patriots had one of the most prolific NFL offenses in 2011 averaging 428 yards per game and 32.1 points per game. That ranked them second in the league in yards and third in the league in points. The only problem with that offense was the need for a top wide receiver which they covered with the signing of Brandon Lloyd. They deepened the receiving corps by also signing Anthony Gonzalez and Donte’ Stallworth. However, the Patriots don’t need as deep of a receiving corps as most teams because of how much they use tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Where the Patriots do need help is on defense. New England had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2011 giving up 21.4 points per game and a staggering 411.1 yards per game. While the team was in the middle of the league in points given up, they were second to last in yards against. The two biggest needs for the Patriots were for a good pass rusher and at defensive back. Despite these clear needs, the Patriots have only signed defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene and Trevor Scott, safety Steve Gregory, and cornerback Marquice Cole.
While the Patriots have signed players for those defensive positions, they’ve clearly not focused much attention on them. In signing Lloyd, the Patriots got one of the best available free agent receivers. On defense, they could’ve gone after better players which would have solved bigger problems. Defensive backs such as Carlos Rogers, Cortland Finnegan, Brandon Carr, and Rashean Mathis were available for the Patriots to attempt to improve their defense. As for pass rushers, Jason Jones and John Abraham were two very good pass rushers and both were not approached. For a team that had over $16.2 million under the cap, it’s rather surprising they haven’t addressed bigger needs.