Just some perspective to clear my own head this morning. Take from it what you will. Disclaimer though: I'm NOT saying that each of these things should be 100% expected to happen. Just that these are all viable ways that a team could improve from one year to the next: Free Agency/Trades I'll get this one out of the way, since it's the hot topic. Adding veteran talent to areas of need is the quickest and sexiest way to go about it. You have a better indication of what this player is than, say, a draftee, and can target those you feel would fit your team better. There are risks though: Free agents cost more money for what you get, and there's always the risk that a change of environment may not translate their skills. There's also the occasional case of a player getting their big payday and losing the drive that earned them the money in the first place. Draft This is the opposite really. Rookies are the biggest unknowns, most don't work out. But, if you're drafting roughly 7 kids (and adding X number of UDFA), most years you're going to get at least ONE player who impacts your team in year one. Last year was a slower year for the Pats, though Collins, Dobson, Thompkins, and Ryan all contributed at various parts of the season. I expect at least one rookie this year to earn a starting spot come playoff time, just playing the odds. Young Player Improvement Not as unpredictable as the draft, but still nothing certain. Any player entering his 2nd or 3rd year could be reasonably expected to improve. How much is the question, and some players do regress, but the following players are all capable of being better than they were in 2013: Chandler Jones Donta Hightower Tavon Wilson (doubtful he'd make any impact, even with improvement) Logan Ryan Duron Harmon Jamie Collins Aaron Dobson Josh Boyce Chris Jones Alfonso Dennard Nate Solder Eleven players who all have the ability to add talent to the team, just by learning the NFL more. Consistency This is another one that may work against the Patriots this year. The longer a unit plays together, the better it tends to be (all other things being relatively equal of course). Losing Talib means the secondary loses a little bit of that consistency, though it's not like they didn't have experience playing without him last year. Losing Edelman might have a bigger impact, just because of his chemistry with Brady. If he's kept though, the consistency of roster should be relatively good. Not including potential moves like having to cut Wilfork, etc. Anyway, I guess my point is, we all want to see the team take every avenue it can to make the team better. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking because they haven't made the big free agent moves (yet), that they're going to be the same team they were last year. There's plenty of ways for them to get better (and I didn't even mention health), no reason to concede the season before it begins.