There New England Patriots do not have a lot of adjustments that need to be made in free agency, but an upgrade to the offensive line, a leading rusher and depth at the receiver position will become priorities once the market and the NFL Draft begin. While the team is in a good position in terms of their salary cap, the Patriots could look to save some money and Danny Amendola could be the first to go.
According to the Boston Herald, there is doubt about Amendola's future going forward with the Patriots. The wide receiver had a much better 2015 season. He stepped up big time when Julian Edelman went down with a broken foot, but as he approaches 30, is his value worth his contract? The Herald writes that Patriots can save $4.1 million if they release Amendola. They will owe him $2.7 million in dead money, but it opens the door for a younger upgrade.
Outside of Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots' receiver rotation struggled. Brandon LaFell had a forgettable 2014. The Patriots could save $2.67 million if they release him. Aaron Dobson never showed anything. Keshawn Martin got some praise from Brady, but that was late in the season when he was the only option. New England needs upgrades and they could search for a better option in free agency and use the money saved from Amendola towards the contract.
Travis Benjamin, Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews and Marvin Jones are the best available free agents on the market this year. All four of them will not come cheap, but can still have manageable contracts to their name and all of them would just at the chance to have Tom Brady throwing them the ball. That would give the Patriots a younger option downfield alongside Edelman. Will they put up better numbers than Amendola? That is debatable, but given Amendola's injury history, the chances he repeats the 2015 success are slim.
Outside of the wide receiver position, the run game will also come into play. According to the Herald, the chances that LeGarrette Blount re-signs are slim, leaving the Patriots without a leading rusher. New England has young talent in James White and they will get Dion Lewis back from injury, but they need a power rusher. Over-spending on someone like Matt Forte or Marshawn Lynch will not be where the Patriots look for help. The team could try to chase someone like Lamar Miller or Chris Ivory while the NFL Draft could bring New England Derrick Henry or Ezekiel Elliott. Without a first round pick, unless the Patriots draft a running back first, they will miss out on both options.
According to ESPN.com, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels wants more talent at the running back position this year as he believes it could open the offense up more. The Patriots were forced to throw more than normal with the run game having issues, so expect McDaniels to push the priority.