By Tom E. Curran
This is the third in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Offensive tackle.Who's here?
Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Nick Kaczur, Mark Levoir, Steve Maneri.
Who's out there?
Matt Light (Patriots), Willie Colon (Steelers), Marshal Yanda (Ravens), Sean Locklear (Seahawks), Tyson Clabo (Falcons), Ryan O'Callagahan (Chiefs), Doug Free (Cowboys), Langston Walker (Raiders).What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it a 4.Previous to the draft, it was a 10 as in - they have to sign a free agent left tackle, probably Matt Light. But now that they've drafted Nate Solder, the urgency is gone. Still, the Patriots will want a tutorsafety net for Solder and the feeling here is that Light will be retained to fill that role.
As for the rest, Vollmer's got the right side locked down. Kaczur makes too much money, gets hurt too much and isn't that good when he actually plays. He's staring at a pay cut or a release. Levoir is a depth guy. Maneri? The converted Temple tight end may have some upside to him. He hasn't yet gotten out to display it yet. Who do they chase?
Higher-end guys like Colon, Clabo and Free are unlikely. The Patriots just simply need depth and versatility behind the two guys they surely expect to bookend their offensive line for the next six seasons at least. Light is a layup. Also, the versatile Marshal Yanda or the slightly banged-up Jared Gaither could be possibilities. Who do we look at next?
Interior offensive linemen
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2.
The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively.
With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.
Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.
Must be Bills week.
After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.
Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?
"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."
There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday.
Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both.