By Chris Peterson @cpetersonHDN on May 16, 2014
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick remembers what it felt like to lose the AFC Championship game last year in Denver. Here are five moves the Patriots should make to avoid the same fate next season.
The Patriots did address the defensive tackle position in the draft by selecting Dominique Easley in the first round, but depth along the defensive line is never a bad thing. Williams is aging but still had 3.5 sacks last season and could prove valuable if either Tommy Kelly or Vince Wilfork are unable to stay healthy.
With the injury history of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots can't count on him being healthy for an entire season. Therefore, they need to add a reliable backup who can make plays in the passing game. Keller, who visited the New England this offseason, would be a perfect fit. He did miss the entire 2013 season with an injury of his own, but he passed a physical and should be ready to go in 2014.
Whether it is to the Houston Texans or some other NFL team, the Patriots need to trade Ryan Mallett before the start of the season. If not, they will get the benefit of having him as a backup for a fourth straight season but they will miss out on draft compensation. With Jimmy Garappolo in the fold, the urgency to move Mallett should increase greatly.
McCourty has been a key player on the Patriots' defense for the past four seasons and has quietly become one of the best safeties in the NFL. In his four-year career, the former first-round pick has 17 interceptions, 50 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and 244 tackles. He is a key cog in the secondary and cannot be allowed to become a free agent following the 2014 season. Signing him to a long-term deal now is simply good business.
Andre Johnson has recently voiced his displeasure with the Texans' offseason and the general direction of the franchise. He sounds like a player sick of losing who wants to play for a contender, and the Patriots should jump all over this opportunity. They need a big-time wide receiver, and if Johnson is willing to restructure his contract, a trade is possible. A second-round pick plus Aaron Dobson should be enough to sway Houston.
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