New England Patriots

De'Vondre Campbell #59 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

After a 10-7 season, the New England Patriots re-established themselves as a team on the rise. But they still have glaring holes on their roster that must become offseason priorities, particularly on defense.

After Buffalo scored 47 points to eliminate the Patriots in the wild card round, the league watched a defense in need of lateral quickness in the front-seven and depth in the secondary. Fortunately, if they choose to keep spending big in free agency, they’ll have some options.

  • With work to do on the defensive side of the ball, here are five established free agents for the Patriots to target for immediate improvement in 2022.

  • Rasul Douglas, CB

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 28: Rasul Douglas #29 of the Green Bay Packers returns an interception for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on November 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    In his fifth season in the NFL, Douglas broke out. With Green Bay’s top corner Jaire Alexander playing just four games, Douglas stepped up to make plays in the secondary. He defended 13 passes with five interceptions and made two pick-sixes, which were most in the league.

    Douglas will have multiple suitors after his 2021 campaign. New England will have to rely on Green Bay’s inability to work him into an already difficult cap space situation and outbid other teams.

  • Harold Landry, LB

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 26: Harold Landry III #58 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates sacking quarterback Carson Wentz #2 of the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

    Landry is no stranger to playing strong defense in this region, as an alum of Boston College. Landry is dynamic on the edge and continues to improve his game. In 2021, Landry made his first Pro Bowl with Tennessee with a career-high 75 tackles and 12.0 sacks.

    While New England’s need at linebacker focuses more on the inside, Landry would be dominant on the edge opposite a refreshed Matthew Judon, to pressure and contain opposing offenses.

  • Desmond King, CB

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 14: Desmond King #25 of the Houston Texans avoids the tackle of De’Jon Harris #46 of the Green Bay Packers in the first half during the preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    King offers an ideal fit for New England’s needs. Pro Football Focus ranked King as the sixth-best slot corner in the NFL entering 2021, and he continued to make plays in that role with Houston. King defended six passes with three interceptions and a forced fumble.

    With Jonathan Jones only under contract through next season, New England could use long-term insurance for slot coverage through a capable player like King.

  • De’Vondre Campbell, LB

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 14: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks is tackled by De’Vondre Campbell #59 of the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    As another potential target from Green Bay, Campbell offers an intriguing mix of size and speed. The 6-foot-3 linebacker tied for sixth in the NFL with 111 tackles, while forcing two fumbles with two interceptions.

    With stability needed in the linebacking core, Campbell would be a player entering his prime to tighten the interior of the New England defense.

  • Charvarius Ward, CB

    Charvarius Ward #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Nick Bolton #54 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    Charvarius Ward #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Nick Bolton #54 of the Kansas City Chiefs tackle Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    At age 26, Ward offers productivity and playoff experience with Kansas City. The Super Bowl LIV champion matched his career highs in 2021 with two interceptions and 10 passes defended. Ward would likely fill the slot in New England.