Deep thinking at these spots for Patriots

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that top offensive line backup Allen Barbre had agreed to a three-year extension through the 2017 season.

The Eagles already had their five starters under contract through 2016, meaning they have both short-and-long term stability at a critical position group.

It got us thinking about areas where a similar sentiment could be felt for the New England Patriots. In no specific order, here are a few positions where the team has depth with players on longer range contracts.

Defensive end. Starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are both under contract through 2016, as is 2013 seventh-round draft choice Michael Buchanan. And 2014 sixth-round pick Zach Moore is under contract through 2017. First-round pick Dominique Easley has the flexibility to play outside as well, though he projects to play more on the interior. Veteran Will Smith provides one year of depth after inking a contract through 2014 this offseason.

Offensive line. There’s something of a power-in-numbers effect here, as the Patriots have 14 offensive linemen currently on the roster. But also consider that they have long-term contracts for Logan Mankins (through 2016), Sebastian Vollmer (through 2016), Bryan Stork (through 2017), Cameron Fleming (through 2017) plus a litany of others with two years left on their current contracts, and the offensive line is in good shape. Assuming left tackle Nate Solder is a recipient of an extension prior to the expiration of his deal (after 2015), this group should be a strength going forward.

Wide receiver. This one could spark some debate. One could stack up the Patriots’ current depth chart this way: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins. Of those players, only Thompkins is not under contract through 2016. The counter would be that this group has a lot to prove, as Edelman was the lone consistent target throughout the course of 2013. If Amendola stays healthy and plays to his skillset, he’s a difference maker. If Dobson progresses once healthy, he has the raw skills to patrol the perimeter. LaFell’s size makes him a difficult mismatch and Boyce has unique speed. The jury is still out on this group as a whole, however.