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Well, it's never too early. So here's an early look at how I think the Pats will approach the beginning of their offseason, whenever it shall come:
Retained: Tom Brady, Kevin O'Connell
Re-signed: Matt Gutierrez (ERFA)
Depart via FA: Matt Cassel (UFA)
Retained: Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Re-signed: Heath Evans (UFA)
Not re-signed: LaMont Jordan (UFA)
Retained: Benjamin Watson, David Thomas
Re-signed: Tyson DeVree (ERFA)
Retained: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Sam Aiken, Kelley Washington, Matthew Slater
Future contract: Maurice Price
Re-signed: Jabar Gaffney (UFA), Ray Ventrone (ERFA)
Retained: Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Nick Kaczur, Billy Yates, Ryan O'Callaghan
Future contract: Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell
Re-signed: Russ Hochstein (UFA), Mark LeVoir (ERFA), Wesley Britt (RFA)
Injury settlement: Barry Stokes
Retained: Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Jarvis Green, Le Kevin Smith
Future contract: Titus Adams
Re-signed: Mike Wright (UFA)
Injury settlement: Kenny Smith
Retained: Mike Vrabel, Adalius Thomas, Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Shawn Crable, Bo Ruud
Future contract: Darrell Robertson
Retire: Tedy Bruschi
Re-signed: Pierre Woods (RFA), Eric Alexander (RFA), Larry Izzo (UFA), Vince Redd (ERFA)
Retained: Brandon Meriweather, Ellis Hobbs, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite
Future contract: Mark Dillard
Re-signed: James Sanders (UFA), Tank Williams (UFA), Antwain Spann (ERFA), Mike Richardson (ERFA)
Retire/Not re-signed: Rodney Harrison (UFA)
Not re-signed: Deltha O'Neal (UFA), Lewis Sanders (UFA), Jason Webster (UFA)
Retained: Stephen Gostkowski
Future contract: Tom Malone
Re-signed: Lonie Paxton (UFA), Chris Hanson (UFA)
...I put the secondary in bold because that's where I think the most change could come. I have Sanders and Williams both being re-signed, but it could go either way. Meriweather, Wheatley, Hobbs (for now), and Wilhite are the obvious base, and how the Pats go about (re-)building around that, I am not sure. Could be FA, could be a draft, could be a mix.
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and Vrabel hasn't really gotten to the QB(some would blame it on the shoulder), but we need a demarcus ware, james harrison, joey porter, or shawn merriman.
But they've never had a player of that caliber at OLB - in 2003-2004, they had three steady rushers in Vrabel, McGinest, and then Colvin in late 2004. So when 3rd down came, you had a steady dose of at least Vrabel, McGinest, Green, Seymour, and then usually another LB and/or a safety.