Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/18/13
The New England Patriots have been the most consistent NFL franchise for the past decade-plus, winning 10 or more games in every season since 2003. The Patriots have continued to maintain a high-powered offense during this time, with Tom Brady at the controls.Brady has continued to improve every season and he has managed to do it with a rotating cast of mostly unknowns at wide receiver. Aside from Randy Moss, Wes Welker and now Rob Gronkowski, Brady has had average receivers at best and the offense never misses a beat, scoring over 30 points per game every season.The most consistent Patriots receiver over the past six years has been Wes Welker. Welker is coming off of his second consecutive season with more than 115 receptions (118) and he has more than 110 catches in five of his six seasons in New England. Welker played last season on a $9.515 million franchise tag and it is highly unlikely the Patriots will franchise tag him again.Another one of Brady's targets from 2012 is questionable to return at receiver as well. Brandon Lloyd had a solid season (74 catches, 911 yards, 4 TD) during his first year in Foxboro, but he is due a $3 million roster bonus on top of his $1.9 million base salary and the Patriots may see it as a time to cut ties.It's no question that the Patriots could use a big-time play-maker for Brady to play opposite the Gronk, especially if they don't bring Welker back, but who is available and at what cost. They may not even want to focus on a receiver in free agency and wait for the Draft to pick a young replacement.They could choose to focus on the defensive side of the ball once the free agency period starts next March 12th. The Patriots continue to struggle when it comes to playing good, solid defense. They have consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in passing defense and Belichick just can't seem to find the right mix of talent.The acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay last season helped shore up the secondary to an extent, but they don't have that dominating cover corner guy, or a ball-hawking Ed Reed type at safety, which may change starting in 2013.If the Ravens don't re-sign Reed, who is a free agent, then it is likely he will become a Patriot. It is widely known that Belichick has a lot of respect for Reed and his game and the feeling is mutual from Reed. If not Reed, then maybe recently released All-Pro cornerback/safety Charles Woodson?Here are five free agents the Patriots should target for the upcoming season.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Former NFL LB Armstrong, wife reportedly killed by 16-year-old son

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again


Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

Is it time to start taking West Ham seriously?

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker