Patriots Future Focus: Safeties

Twelfth in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:

Safety: Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, James Sanders, Sergio Brown, Bret Lockett, Ross Ventrone

Stat check: Chung was second on the team with 89 tackles, while no safety played more than Meriweather (80 percent), followed by Chung (72 percent) and Sanders (70 percent).

First instinct: Some of the team’s best plays (e.g. James Sanders’ game-sealing interception of Peyton Manning) and worst plays (e.g. Brandon Meriweather’s $40,000 fine for hits to the head) came from this spot, which reflected an up-and-down year at safety.

Storyline not to be overlooked: Chung’s ability to bounce back. The second-year safety improved from his rookie campaign, but had the botched fake punt in the playoff loss. That can be a tough miscue for a player to carry with him over the course of the offseason.

Future: Jarrad Page, Brandon McGowan and Josh Barrett have contracts that expire. Barrett, who rehabbed an injured shoulder while missing the 2010 season, was claimed on waivers from the Broncos and could be part of the mix. Meriweather and Sanders enter the final year of their contracts, while Chung is signed through 2012.

Final thought: While deep in numbers, planning for the future is a consideration for the Patriots because Chung is the only player at the top of the depth chart with a contract that ends past the 2011 season.

Your thoughts: How do you think the Patriots should approach the situation at safety? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog.