Up next in the team needs features for the draft section are the New England Patriots. THN will be filling in all of the needsí pages throughout April, so keep checking back for your favorite (or least-favorite) team.
New England Patriots
2005 Results: 10-6 (1st place AFC East)
2006 Projected Cap Status: $18,420,000 (as of 03/10/06)
2005 Season Recap: The defending champions had an up and down year. What started with a whimper (3-3), finished with a bang as New England rolled off six wins in their last eight games to win their division and make the playoffs. Impressive considering how many people wrote them off after such an auspicious start to the season.
Bill Belichek was kind enough to let Doug Flutie come into the final game and score the first drop kick since 1941. Now departed kicker Adam Vinatieri joked that, "Flutie might have been there the last time it happened," referring to Flutie's age of 43.
After a wildcard win against Jacksonville, the Patriots quest for yet another Super Bowl was stopped short by the Broncos in the divisional playoff round.
Cornerback - Eric Warfield and Mel Mitchell were brought in as free agents but probably only fill a nickel role. The Patriots struggled with injuries and performance in their 2005 secondary and with Bill Belichek's penchant for drafting talent and not needs, Pats fans may be hoping that there's a top prospect corner at number 21.
Wide Receiver - David Givens left this year, David Patten last year... that leaves Deion Branch and Troy Brown. This year's WR draft class isn't that strong but the Pats will still likely try and improve in this area at some point on the first day.
Linebacker - The Patriots needing a linebacker? Willie McGinest is out via free agency and both Vrabel and Bruschi aren't exactly spring chickens anymore. The linebackers are widely considered the strongest class in this draft, so expect the Pats to add one early and maybe another later if there's value there.
Running Back - could be added for depth. Not a high priority, but a mid to late round pick would add to a stable that is aging... especially when you have 11 picks.
Free Agency Status: Unrestricted Free Agents: QB Doug Flutie.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents: WR Michael McGrew; OL Gene Mruczkowski; DL Santonio Thomas; OL Billy Yates.
Players Re-signed: WR Troy Brown; WR Bam Childress; LB Don Davis; FB Heath Evans; CB Randall Gay; DB Artrell Hawkins; OG Stephen Neal; CB Hank Poteat; CB Chad Scott; S Guss Scott; S Michael Stone; OL Ross Tucker.
Players Acquired: WR Reche Caldwell; PK Martin Gramatica; S Tebucky Jones; S Mel Mitchell; CB Eric Warfield.
Players Lost: OT Tom Ashworth; LB Chad Brown; LB Matt Chatham; WR Andre' Davis; WR Tim Dwight; TE Christian Fauria; WR David Givens; WR Cedric James; LB Willie McGinest; CB Tyrone Poole; CB Duane Starks; PK Adam Vinatieri.