Free agency is one area in which a team can fill needs, and the Patriots have been busy.
Here is a snapshot view of a few areas that still figure to warrant the team’s attention:
Interior offensive line. Center Phil Costa (signed with Colts) and guard Shelley Smith (signed with Dolphins) were among the team’s early free-agent visitors. Starting center Ryan Wendell remains a free agent.
Coverage linebacker/special teams. With top backup Dane Fletcher signing with the Buccaneers, the Patriots lose a core special-teams player (led the club with 15 tackles in 2013) who led the dime package after Jerod Mayo was lost to a season-ending injury Oct. 13. With a top trio of Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, the Patriots have a promising outlook, but they explored adding another piece with Wesley Woodyard before he signed with the Titans.
Defensive line. With Vince Wilfork’s future with the team hanging in the sensitive balance, the Patriots hosted defensive tackle Letroy Guion (formerly of the Vikings), who remains on the market. Nickel rusher Andre Carter is a free agent, so the depth is thinned behind starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones.
Safety. After releasing veteran Steve Gregory a few weeks ago, the Patriots would likely start second-year player Duron Harmon opposite Devin McCourty if the season began today. The rest of the depth chart is filled with more special-teams types.