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Free-agent fit: Safeties

Seventh in a multipart series on free-agent fits at various positions leading into the start of free agency March 13.

Position: Safety

Players under contract for 2012: Josh Barrett, Sergio Brown, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty*, Ross Ventrone, Malcolm Williams

Level of need: High

Projected top targets: Mike Adams (Browns), James Ihedigbo (Patriots), LaRon Landry (Redskins)

Why Adams fits: The Patriots hosted him on a visit in 2009, which highlights that the club viewed him as a potential fit at that time. The 30-year-old Adams (5-11, 200) is coming off the first season of his eight-year career in which he started all 16 games.

Why Ihedigbo fits: He's smart, tough, knows the system, and contributes on special teams. It wasn't part of the initial plan to have him playing 67 percent of the defensive snaps in 2011, but having a player who can step in like that when needed is valuable.

Why Landry fits: After being limited because of injuries in each of the last two seasons, he could be an undervalued asset on the market. Might be in position to sign a "prove-it" type of one-year deal, and the Patriots have had success with those in the past.

Other names of note: Jordan Babineaux (Titans), Melvin Bullitt (Colts), Brian Dawkins (Broncos), Abram Elam (Cowboys), Steve Gregory (Chargers), Tyrell Johnson (Vikings), Jim Leonhard (Jets), Brandon Meriweather (Bears), Reggie Nelson (Bengals), Jarrad Page (Vikings), James Sanders (Falcons).

Market conditions: Three safeties were assigned the franchise tag -- Oakland's Tyvon Branch, Tennessee's Michael Griffin and San Francisco's Dashon Goldson -- and that thinned out the top end of the market. The draft is considered a bit light at the position. Teams looking to upgrade here might have to be more aggressive than the norm.

Questions to answer at position: Who starts alongside Patrick Chung? ... How much should be invested in a free-agent signing when Chung's contract, which expires after the 2012 season, is also on the radar?. ... Was cornerback Devin McCourty a short-term fix at safety in sub packages or part of a long-term solution? ... How many times will Ross Ventrone be cut and re-signed? (insert chuckle).

YOUR TURN: Which of these would you like to see in a Patriots uniform? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.