Tom Brady is by far the most important piece to the New England Patriots’ championship hopes. So, keeping him upright and well protected should be a top priority. Nate Solder and Logan Mankins were two of the NFL’s best blind-side blockers in 2012, keeping Brady comfortable inside the pocket consistently throughout the season. The right side of the line was equally as impressive, led by arguably the best right tackle in football Sebastian Vollmer. But the Patriots will have to make a hefty investment this offseason if they plan on keeping their All-Pro tackle in New England for the foreseeable future –and they should. Tackles are a valued commodity in the NFL and it’s not every day that you come across guys with supreme talent like Vollmer. Through four NFL seasons, Vollmer has developed into a consistent and reliable blocker on Brady’s front side. He has established himself as one of the leagues’ premier pass protectors and become a strong run blocker for Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and the rest of the running backs. Needless to say, he’s turned into one of the most valuable members of the Patriots’ offense, and now he deserves to be paid like one. Vollmer is headed for free agency this offseason and should command some big dollars if he hits the market. The Patriots can’t let their franchise tackle get that close to the long line of suitors awaiting him, though. They need to lock him up now, even before Wes Welker or Aqib Talib. Welker and Talib have commanded the headlines and most of the chatter this offseason, but Vollmer should be the primary focus over the next month. No, he doesn’t post the flashy numbers of Welker or make the eyebrow-raising interceptions like Talib, but his job is to keep Brady safe and that is more important than any single touchdown or turnover. Sure, Vollmer’s injury history is a concern and should raise some red flags about offering him a long-term extension. Vollmer has played in just 51 of the 64 possible games during his four-year career and recurring back problems have limited him to just 21 games over the past two seasons. But even with the lingering issues, the potential reward is well worth the risk in Vollmer.

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2013/02/sebastian-vollmers-contract-extension-should-be-patriots-first-order-of-business-this-offseason/