Patriots defensive snapshot: contracts

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
9:00
AM ET
Following up on colleague Field Yates' player-by-player positional review series, the following is a current Patriots defensive snapshot based on players under contract, which gives a feel for both the present and future outlook (with length of players' contracts):

Defensive end
Chandler Jones (2015*)
Rob Ninkovich (2016)
Michael Buchanan (2016)
Jake Bequette (2015)

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What is the Patriots' biggest need on defense?

  •  
    26%
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    21%
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    40%
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    5%
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    8%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,423)

Free agent: Andre Carter

Quick hit: Solid with Jones and Ninkovich as starters, the development of Buchanan (seventh round, 2013) will mostly determine how significant of a need there is at this spot. The Patriots have an option to extend Jones’ contract through 2016.

Defensive tackle
Vince Wilfork (2014)
Tommy Kelly (2015)
Armond Armstead (2015)
Sealver Siliga (2014)
Chris Jones (2016)
Joe Vellano (2015)
Isaac Sopoaga (2015)
Marcus Forston (2015)
Cory Grissom (2015)

Quick hit: Wilfork’s $7.5 million base salary and $11 million salary-cap charge could spark extension talks. Sopoaga is expected to be released based on his $3.5 million salary, or perhaps returns with a significant pay cut. A lot of players here who fit different systems and Armstead remains a wild card.

Linebacker
Jerod Mayo (2017)
Dont’a Hightower (2015)
Jamie Collins (2016)
Steve Beauharnais (2016)
Chris White (2014)
Ja’Gared Davis (2015)
Taylor Reed (2015)

Free agent: Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher

Quick hit: The starting trio in 2014 -- comprised of all top draft picks -- has big-time upside. With Spikes passing the torch to Collins in the playoffs, it seems a safe bet that Spikes will be playing elsewhere this year. Fletcher is a solid core special-teamer whose return is likely contingent on if another team views him as a possible bigger piece of its defensive plans.

Cornerback
Alfonzo Dennard (2015)
Kyle Arrington (2016)
Logan Ryan (2016)
Justin Green (2015)

Free agent: Aqib Talib

Quick hit: If Talib returns, which figures to be a top priority, the picture is solidified and it’s more of a matter of adding depth.

Safety
Devin McCourty (2014)
Steve Gregory (2014)
Duron Harmon (2016)
Adrian Wilson (2015)
Tavon Wilson (2015)
Nate Ebner (2015)
Kanorris Davis (2015)

Quick hit: Adrian Wilson isn’t expected back after spending the year on injured reserve. Tavon Wilson (2012 second-rounder) played just 18 defensive snaps as his development hit a notable snag.

Specialists
K Stephen Gostkowski (2014)
P Ryan Allen (2015)

Free agent: LS Danny Aiken

Quick hit: Aiken is a restricted free agent and his return, if the team is interested in keeping this trio intact, shouldn’t be financially difficult to ensure.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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