The New England Patriots need to bolster their defensive line whether Vince Wilfork comes back or not.

Wilfork should return, but the Patriots defensive tackle might need to take a pay cut to make that happen. He’s on the books for an $11.6 million salary-cap hit in 2014, the last year on his contract. The Patriots are desperate for cap room this offseason.

Chances are the Patriots will attempt to restructure Wilfork’s deal in order to pay for free agents and draft picks this offseason. It might be time to start planning for life without Wilfork, though.

The Patriots drafted Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Wilfork in the first round of the 2001, 2003 and 2004 NFL drafts, respectively. The highest the Patriots have drafted a defensive tackle since their last Super Bowl win was Ron Brace at No. 40 overall in 2009. It’s time for them to take a top-tier interior defensive lineman again.

The Patriots have plenty of depth at defensive tackle, but after Wilfork and Tommy Kelly went down with season-ending injuries, it was a struggle to get through the 2013 season. Kelly’s uncertain to return in 2014 after tearing a ligament in his knee in 2013. The Patriots also have Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Armond Armstead, Isaac Sopoaga, Cory Grissom and Marcus Forston returning at the position.

Ideally, the Patriots would take a defensive tackle who can get pressure on the opposing quarterback. But the Patriots also could elect to draft a replacement for Wilfork, since he’s 32 years old, coming off an Achilles tear and on the last year of a massive contract.