FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With a good portion of media coverage in recent weeks devoted to the New England Patriots' new acquisitions and the upcoming NFL draft, it's could be easy to overlook what is already on the roster, and some potential pressing questions.
Here are five on the mind today:
Can Dominique Easley rise up to first-round expectations? The 2014 first-round pick (29th overall) entered the NFL with health/durability questions out of Florida and has finished both years on season-ending injured reserve. He's shown flashes of excellence in bursts at defensive tackle, but there are questions about whether he can sustain that. His best fit has been as an interior sub rusher. The offseason is a critical time for him to build a foundation to withstand the pounding of the NFL season.
What would be the sweet spot with Danny Amendola's contract? Amendola is scheduled to earn $5 million in base salary and count $6.8 million on the salary cap, and it is assumed that the team won't keep him around at those numbers. Last year, Amendola took a significant pay cut down to a base salary of $1.5 million and outperformed it. It's hard to imagine that type of cut again, so one wonders if $3 million may be a potential compromise for a base salary if the team asks for a reduction.
Will urgency of situation bring out the best in Aaron Dobson? The 2013 second-round draft choice from Marshall projects to be in a fight for a roster spot, especially after the Patriots paid big for Chris Hogan and also brought in veteran Nate Washington at receiver. After three years of high expectations based on his draft status, Dobson can cut it loose this year as he could be flying under the radar.
Will there be anything to show from the Jon Bostic trade? The linebacker acquired from the Bears for a sixth-round draft choice didn't make much of an impact last season, and now the Patriots have signed his former teammate, Shea McClellin. Having entered the league as a second-round draft choice, Bostic isn't a huge factor on special teams, which further could lessen his value and threaten his spot on the roster.
Does Michael Williams get a look at offensive tackle? The Patriots are loaded at tight end with Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and Clay Harbor atop the depth chart, with Williams a powerful blocking presence. Williams played tight end in college at Alabama, was switched to offensive tackle with the Lions in the NFL, and then returned to tight end with the Patriots after being acquired in a trade last year. With a need to develop a swing tackle, it will be interesting to see if Williams is part of the consideration.