Even as he still was processing the Patriots’ loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game Sunday night, coach Bill Belichick declared that he would start work on the 2014 season beginning Monday.
During his day-after news conference, Belichick said he’d likely be headed to this week’s Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., for draft preparation, and he will need at least six weeks to assess all the free agency decisions New England has to make.
With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the Patriots’ roster, with players grouped by position and information on their respective contracts:
Signed: Tom Brady (through 2017), Ryan Mallett (2014).
No changes expected here, obviously. Brady signed an extension almost a year ago that is slated to keep him in New England through age 40. Mallett didn’t play a snap in the regular season this year, which could make it tough to trade him, but the Patriots still could field calls for him.
Signed: Brandon Bolden (2014), James Develin (2014), Stevan Ridley (2014), Shane Vereen (2014). Free agent: LeGarrette Blount.
Interesting group here. None are signed beyond the coming season, and though Blount impressed with his late-season play, it remains to be seen if the Patriots will bring him back given the young players they have under contract. If New England wants Blount back, it won’t overpay.
Signed: Danny Amendola (2017), Josh Boyce (2016), Aaron Dobson (2016), Mark Harrison (2015), TJ Moe (2015), Matthew Slater (2014), Kenbrell Thompkins (2015). Free agents: Austin Collie, Julian Edelman.
The first year of the Amendola deal did not work out for the Patriots — 54 catches for 633 yards and two TDs. Not only did Amendola suffer a groin injury in the season opener that he dealt with all year, but both Brady and Amendola said as recently as last week that they still were working to get on the same page — not good news given the investment the Patriots made to get the receiver. But will they spend to keep Edelman and Amendola? Edelman got tepid interest as a free agent last year, but that likely will change after his 105-catch, 1,056-yard season.
Signed: Rob Gronkowski (2019), D.J. Williams (2014). Free agents: Michael Hoomanawanui, Matthew Mulligan.
If ever there was a question as to how important Gronkowski is to the Patriots’ fortunes, the answer resoundingly came this season. For the six-plus games Gronkowski was healthy, the Patriots were able to move the ball effectively, and were better in the red zone. New England may look to the draft to bolster this position, though Hoomanawanui could be brought back at a team-friendly rate.
Signed: Chris Barker (2015), Marcus Cannon (2014), Dan Connolly (2014), Josh Kline (2015), Logan Mankins (2016), Nate Solder (2014), Sebastian Vollmer (2016), Markus Zusevics (2014). Free agents: Will Svitek, Ryan Wendell.
Wendell, who has started at center each of the past two seasons, is really the only decision the Patriots will have to make in this group, though an extension for Solder could be coming down the pipe as well.
Signed: Armond Armstead (2015), Jake Bequette (2015), Michael Buchanan (2016), Cory Grissom (2015), Chandler Jones (2015), Chris Jones (2016), Tommy Kelly (2014), Rob Ninkovich (2016), Sealver Siliga (2014), Isaac Sopoaga (2015), Joe Vellano (2015), Vince Wilfork (2014). Free agent: Andre Carter.
Perhaps the silver lining in the injuries to Kelly and Wilfork was found in the playing time youngsters such as Siliga, Chris Jones, and Vellano were able to get. But it will be interesting to see if the Patriots approach Wilfork about restructuring his deal — he’s 32 and coming off a ruptured Achilles’, and has a base salary of $7.5 million for the coming season. Also, hard to think Sopoaga will be kept at his current base salary of $3.5 million after being a healthy scratch for the final four games of the season.
Signed: Steve Beauharnais (2016), Jamie Collins (2016), Ja’Gared Davis (2015), Dont’a Hightower (2015), Jerod Mayo (2017), Chris White (2014). Free agents: Dane Fletcher, Brandon Spikes.
When it comes to the players slated to become free agents, Fletcher, a core special-teamer and top reserve, is likely to be re-signed, but Spikes probably will not be. Although Spikes played a good deal of the season through pain and was strong against the run, it hasn’t been a great marriage of personality and team philosophy.
Signed: Kyle Arrington (2016), Kanorris Davis (2015), Alfonzo Dennard (2015), Nate Ebner (2015), Justin Green (2015), Steve Gregory (2014), Duron Harmon (2016), Devin McCourty (2014), Logan Ryan (2016), Adrian Wilson (2014), Tavon Wilson (2015). Free agent: Aqib Talib.
What to do with Talib is probably the biggest free agent question facing the Patriots. When he’s healthy, he’s the best cornerback New England has had since Ty Law. But can he stay healthy? The hip injury that affected him in 2012 popped up again in 2013. The 2014 franchise tag for cornerbacks is projected to top $11 million.
Signed: P Ryan Allen (2015), K Stephen Gostkowski (2014). Free agent: LS Danny Aiken.
Aiken had a bad snap in the Patriots’ divisional-round game against the Colts, but to the best of our recollection, it’s the only bad one he’s had in his time with New England. He’s a candidate to remain with the team.