This is the first in a series of position-by-position looks at the Patriots heading into free agency. Today's position: Safety.Who's on the roster?Patrick Chung, Sergio Brown, Josh BarrettPatriots need level? Let's call it an 8. A solid 8.Position overview?Patrick Chung is a borderline Pro Bowler. Josh Barretthas great size and seems like he has upside, but his injury-marred 2011makes it hard to know what the team ultimately thinks of him. He was okay at best before he got hurt.Sergio Brown is a valuable special-teams guy. He didn't impress when he got his shot next to Chung near the startof the season. James Ihedigbo is more than adequate, but he'll be a free agent himself. Expect the Patriots to try and re-signhim.We could throw Devin McCourty and Sterling Moore into the safety conversation, as well. Certainly, McCourty's preferred position is corner, but if he doesn't get his edge back on the outside he could land back at safety. Moore is short and has only adequate speed but he's instinctive, makes solid plays on the ball and hits. The Patriots need a guy who can really cover some ground back there and they don't really have it. Who's out there?LaRon Landry, Washington Redskins: He's 27 and has been dogged by an Achilles injury but he's a ferocious hitter and was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Still, he's gotten very bulked up and may not be as suited to a conservative, coverage style system as he would in a more aggressive scheme.Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati Bengals. The 28-year-old Nelson is a true center fielder. The Bengals want to re-sign him, though, so it could be an uphill fight to pry him loose. After a thoroughly average start to his career in Jacksonville, he was dealt to Cincinnati and played very well with four picks and 102 tackles. Other names of note?James Sanders, Sean Considine, Gibril Wilson, Bob SandersFree agent forecast?It's a position of need, but the Patriots don't have a lot of candidates to pick through here. Expect them to address the position through the draft and with the slew of defensive backs already on the roster. Expect Ihedigbo to be re-signed as well.
With injuries mounting on offense, the Patriots winning behind their defense might have to become the rule rather than the exception.