Are Patriots vulnerable this season?

Despite being more vulnerable, the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC East. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag once a week during the NFL season. Got a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: How will the New York Giants' signing of Victor Cruz affect their ability to re-sign Hakeem Nicks?

-- Roger (New York)

A: Not much, Roger. I actually think what has gotten overlooked in keeping Nicks is the emergence of former second-round pick Rueben Randle. If Randle can play the way the Giants are hoping, New York might not be as willing to give Nicks the type of money he will be able to command after this season. New York always can use its franchise tag on Nicks and likely would if he had a Pro Bowl-caliber season. But let me flip it to my scenario. What if Randle does emerge this season? Then losing Nicks becomes a lot more palatable. To me, Randle's season might have a larger impact on whether Nicks stays than Cruz's deal.

Q: Do you agree with Dannell Ellerbe that the New England Patriots are vulnerable this season? I like Miami's offseason moves, but I don't think they can compete with New England yet.

-- Jason (California)

A: No team has had a worse offseason than New England. Aaron Hernandez and now Alfonzo Dennard. Are you kidding, Dennard? It's incredible. But I digress; let's get back to the football part of it. The Patriots are more vulnerable, but they're also still better than anyone else in the AFC East and can play with anyone in the AFC. Here's my take on Miami: The Dolphins added some great talent this offseason, no question, but people are completely overlooking that they also lost a lot of talent. They lost their starting left tackle, Jake Long, a former No. 1 overall pick in the draft, whom they wanted to keep but couldn't. They lost a running back, Reggie Bush, who was very much wanted in Detroit. They lost a productive tight end in Anthony Fasano, a tackling machine in Karlos Dansby and a desirable cornerback in Sean Smith. None of those players was good enough to get Miami to the playoffs last season, but they were good players. Now they're elsewhere. So let's not take away the AFC East title from a more vulnerable Patriots team just yet.