Spotlight on Connolly & free agency

INDIANAPOLIS -- Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly is hitting free agency at the right time, having started 24 regular season games over the last two seasons and increasing his worth to the club.

The sides are now expected to talk about a contract extension before the start of free agency March 13.

"Dan would obviously like to stay in New England, but he understands it's a business, and he has a family," said Connolly's agent, Rocky Arceneaux of Alliance Sports. "At this point, it's up to New England. They've had opportunities to basically re-sign him throughout the season, and we'll just wait and see. He'd love to stay in New England. Hopefully it will work out."

Arceneaux naturally thinks highly of what Connolly can bring to a team.

"I think the biggest thing with Dan is his versatility and I think he showed everybody this year that he's capable of being a starter in the NFL at center and in the past he's proven he can also start and play effectively at either guard position -- left or right. I think there is a lot to be said for his versatility," Arceneaux said. "He's a hard-working, blue-collar guy, and he's a very solid citizen. I think that adds value to it."

As for the dynamic of having top Patriots centers Connolly and Dan Koppen both hitting free agency at the same time, Arceneaux views the situations as a strong reflection on the Patriots.

"I think it's a compliment to New England. If you look at the Patriots organization, they always seem to have guys who are able to fill in. I think when you're that type of organization, at some point in time you have multiple guys at the same position who are up," he said.