In today’s NFL, with tight end-heavy offenses and zone-read options sprouting up everywhere, you can’t get away with safety being a weak link. More than anything, it needs to be a position of strength.

Sure, getting that elite pass rusher is important. So is a lockdown corner, or at least one that allows you to single-cover an opposing team’s top receiver. That’s your 1-2 punch when building a defense, according to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

But the middle of the field is where most of the action is these days, so safety play is vital. That’s why Carroll has one of the best tandems in the business in free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor.

That’s also why this offseason is so important for the Patriots. Safety is a top need, a high priority with or without Devin McCourty moving back to corner.

When you surrender the fourth-most passing yards in the league (4,342), there’s a need to fix parts of the secondary. For the Patriots, the safety position ranks chief among them.

Looking at what the Pats have in house, after McCourty, there’s Steve Gregory, along with Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner. Patrick Chung is a free agent and an unlikely candidate to be re-signed.

Bottom line? The Pats need a presence back there, a super-charged, super-talented partner to complement McCourty, who has shown to be a decent fit as a free safety given his ability to cover ground quickly, his instincts, and tackling ability.

Having him start the year as a safety, with a full offseason of workouts and training camp at the position, should make him even better.