With free agency set to begin March 5, ESPNBoston.com will look at the "free-agent fit" at each position, while projecting possibilities for the Patriots. Today, it’s cornerbacks:
RATING THE NEED: High
CURRENT PERSONNEL: Shawn Springs, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, Kyle Arrington
KEY CONSIDERATION: Leigh Bodden, who was the team’s most consistent corner in 2009, is scheduled for unrestricted free agency. In a year with few top corners on the market, Bodden could generate interest from other teams, but the Patriots figure to remain in contact with him throughout the process. Bodden is seeking a lucrative long-term contract and it makes sense to think he’d like to see what he might command on the open market.
NOTABLE TARGETS ON MARKET: Leigh Bodden (Patriots, unrestricted), Nick Harper (Titans, unrestricted), Ken Lucas (Seahawks, unrestricted), Dunta Robinson (Texans, unrestricted), Carlos Rogers (Redskins, restricted)
MOST LIKELY TARGETS FOR PATS: Leigh Bodden, Deshea Townsend (Steelers, unrestricted)
SLEEPER POSSIBILITY FOR PATS: Ralph Brown (Cardinals, unrestricted)
OUTLANDISH THOUGHT FOR PATS: Ellis Hobbs (Eagles, restricted), Ty Law (Broncos, unrestricted)
WRAP IT UP: This will be a make or break year for Wheatley, the 2008 second-round draft choice who has yet to emerge. Because of that, coupled with Bodden’s unrestricted free-agent status and Springs entering his 14th season, the Patriots figure to address this position aggressively – possibly in both free agency and the draft. Bodden would be the top choice if the sides can agree on a deal. The team targeted Townsend in free agency in 2006 and perhaps they revisit that possibility again.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Which of these cornerbacks would you most like to see in a Patriots uniform? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.
Coming tomorrow: Safeties