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Patriots training camp opens on July 27.
The team is currently on summer vacation but the Pats still have three open spots on their 90-man roster. Historically, the Patriots head into camp with a full roster.
That begs the question — where do they look to add?
The Pats have had a busy offseason with several free-agent additions and a 10-player draft class. The Pats have lost, via free agency or trade, veterans J.C. Jackson, Shaq Mason, Kyle Van Noy, Chase Winovich, Ted Karras and Brandon Bolden. Along with their draft class, they’ve added 10 veteran players and five undrafted free agents.
While looking over the current roster, it’s clear there are a few positions that could use some reinforcements. There have been big changes at the guard, wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker and edge-rusher positions.
The Patriots do have a cap-space issue — only $142,280, according to Miguel Benzan of PatsCap.com — but that was before they restructured center David Andrews' deal on Friday. They converted $3.15 million of Andrews’ compensation for the 2022 season into a signing bonus and that freed up $2.1 million in cap space. The team usually goes into a season with at least a few million to work with.
In the event the Patriots want to fill their last three roster spots, these five veteran free agents would help:
Nate Solder, tackle
The Patriots have questions at the tackle position. This spring, Trent Brown switched to left tackle and Isaiah Wynn moved to right tackle. Right now, their best backup is Justin Herron. Bringing back Solder makes sense. He knows the Patriots system and has experience at both tackle spots. Considering Brown and Wynn’s injury history, it would make sense to bring in a veteran. Solder feels like an upgrade to Herron, Yodny Cajuste, Yasir Durant, Will Sherman and Andrew Stueber. He’s started every game played since 2012, including 16 games last season for the New York Giants.
Eddie Goldman, defensive tackle
The Patriots have three solid defensive tackles in Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore, but lack run-stuffing depth beyond that. Top backup Daniel Ekuale will be suspended for the first two games of the season for a reason that hasn’t been disclosed. Byron Cowart didn’t participate this spring. That leaves Carl Davis and Bill Murray. Goldman, 28, has started 73 games since 2015. He’s 6 feet 3 inches and 325 pounds and made 22 tackles last season in Chicago as their nose tackle. His best season was in 2018 when he made 40 tackles to go with three sacks. He would provide solid depth for the Patriots.
Dont’a Hightower, linebacker
The Patriots underwent many changes at outside linebacker this offseason. Van Noy is in Los Angeles while Hightower and Jamie Collins are still free agents. Although the Pats are getting younger and faster with the likes of Josh Uche, Ronnie Perkins, Cameron McGrone and Mack Wilson, bringing back Hightower makes a lot of sense. He has the versatility to play inside or outside linebacker. Hightower is also a great leader and would help the younger linebackers and edge rushers. He started all 15 games he playlast year for the Pats, finishing with 64 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Kevin King, cornerback
The Patriots are rebuilding their cornerback depth chart after J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers. They brought in veterans Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell while drafting Jack Jones and Marcus Jones. They join Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones at the top of the depth chart. Someone like King, 27, would add depth at outside cornerback. He started 31 games for Green Bay over the last three seasons. He earned a 70.6 grade from Pro Football Focus last season. That would’ve been second after Jackson on the Patriots. King’s best season was in 2019 when he finished with a career-high five interceptions.
Ereck Flowers, guard and tackle
It’s clear that the Patriots view Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu as their starting guards. The top backups, however, leave something to be desired with Darryl Williams, Arlington Hambright, Drew Desjarlais and Chasen Hines. Flowers, the ninth overall pick in 2015, hasn’t had an easy journey in the NFL. He’s played for four teams and was released by Washington this offseason after starting at left guard. The 28-year-old has started 101 NFL games at both guard and tackle. He would instantly provide better depth at guard and tackle. The biggest question is whether he would sign with a team on which he wouldn't be a guaranteed starter.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: The Pats still have three spots to fill heading into training camp