Originally written on cover32 - Patriots  |  Last updated 12/27/14
This is the final installment of the New England Patriots team needs feature at cover32.com this off-season. If you missed any previous position installments, they can be found here. The series finishes with a look at the special teams performers, particularly the kicker and punter positions. At kicker the Patriots may have a bigger need than many anticipate. Although kicker Stephen Gostkowski earned a trip to the Pro Bowl after making 39 of 41 field goal attempts, he enters the last year of his contract and carries a $3.8 million salary cap charge in 2014. While there is an expectation that Gostkowski works out an extension, one only has to consider the previous Pro Bowl kicker in New England to remember a contract extension with the Patriots is never a sure thing. Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri was the most clutch kicker in the NFL and a vital part of three Super Bowl championships after the 2005 season. Vinatieri seemed a lock to remain in New England a long time despite having the franchise tag placed on him the prior season. When the Patriots failed to move quickly on resigning “Automatic Adam” he spurned them for AFC rival Indianapolis, where he has continued to excel. With Gostkowski nearing the end of his contract the Patriots have to make a decision if they apply the franchise tag on him next season or work out an extension. Gostkowski not only excels kicking field goals but is a weapon on kickoffs as well. As a bonus, he even stepped up at punter in the AFC Divisional game versus Indianapolis when punter Ryan Allen was sidelined with a shoulder injury. With his high cap charge there still remains a possibility the Patriots bring in serious competition at kicker this offseason. They set the precedent last season with the punter position. You may also be interested in:The Kicking Game: Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan AllenShould the Patriots target a top 10 kicker from the NFL Draft?National Rewind: Power Rankings, New England Patriots pick in our latest mock draft

Lovie Smith denies Bucs tanked to secure #1 pick in 2015 Draft

Report: Jets will fire Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik on Monday

Braxton Miller has 'expressed interest' in Duke transfer?

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers mutually part ways

Mike Wallace benched for disciplinary reasons

Browns owner sends stern message to Johnny Manziel


Report: Ray Allen is leaning toward retirement

Ravens clinch playoff spot

DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant set Cowboys records in win

Report: Browns feel Josh Gordon 'has to go'

Jets contacted Rex Ryan's agent about replacements for him

Justin Gilbert inactive after being late to team meeting

10 takeaways from NFL Week 17

WATCH: Mike Tomlin goes after Reggie Nelson after game

WATCH: Ndamukong Suh steps on Aaron Rodgers

Nation's top recruit says he won't follow Jim Harbaugh

Eric Decker's wife was concerned about hubby's groin

WATCH: Lamar Miller has longest run in Dolphins history

WATCH: Pats fans serenade Pete Frates with 'Happy Birthday'

Harbaugh rumors affecting Mich. basketball ticket prices?

WATCH: Dez Bryant burns Redskins defender for TD

Detroit bar offering free food, booze if Lions beat Packers

Jameis Winston: I would throw in Richard Sherman's direction

WATCH: Nebraska safety pukes on field, keeps playing

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.

WATCH: Suh steps on Aaron Rodgers

Browns owner sends message to Manziel

Ray Allen leaning toward retirement?

Ravens clinch playoff spot

Murray, Bryant set team records

Pats fans serenade Pete Frates

Browns to part ways with Josh Gordon?

Manziel was late after throwing party?

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans

Harbaugh to Mich. is done deal

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence supports Louisville with chant

Did Bielema do ‘Horns Down’?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.