But until they find his replacement - not discounting the idea it may be Meriweather - they have a big, Rodney-Harrison-shaped hole in their roster.
It won't be quick or easy to replace Harrison's veteran leadership (this may be where Tank Williams comes in), but the Patriots can keep their eye out for someone who can at least replace his tough hits and aggressive attitude - James Sanders just ain't cuttin' it for me in that department, and neither is special-teamer Raymond Ventrone. I would love to see the Patriots pick up a hungry young draft pick at this position like Jerod Mayo.
Some safeties have been in the mix during the combine and pre-draft workouts for the Patriots. Patrick Chung of Oregon, William Moore of Missouri, and Louis Delmas of Western Michigan have gotten pre-draft workouts. Chung is said to be intense and competitive, and can also serve as a punt returner. Delmas played as a free safety and is said to be a hungry, aggressive young player with good leadership skills.
Also among the top safety prospects this year is Alabama's Rashad Johnson. Scouting reports on him are tantalizing; Patriots Football Weekly writer Erik Scalavino says Johnson "Reminds me of Brandon Meriweather with better hands."
Who knows what kind of gamesmanship it might mean coming from Belichick and Co., but from the mix of players that have been worked out, the impression seems to be the team would like to draft at this position around the second round. Moore, Johnson and Delmas are all expected to be available between the second and third rounds, and it's likely the Patriots will snap one of them up with their 34th pick.