Quick hits to start week

Some Patriots-based quick hits to lead off the week:

1. Free agency starts at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. It's a bit different from the days when it started at midnight, which created a unique dynamic of late-night action. But based on the league-wide moves to this point, there should be no shortage of excitement.

2. The Patriots are currently in talks with some of their own free agents, as is standard operating procedure. They have about 24-36 hours before they'll be competing with others, which can alter the picture.

3. The salary cap for the year has been set at $120.6 million. This is a slight increase from last year and in the neighborhood of what was expected by teams. The Patriots, when accounting for Wes Welker's $9.5 million franchise tag, have about $16 million in cap space (Pro Football Talk first reported the numbers). Salary cap figures can fluctuate quickly, so the bottom line when it comes to the Patriots is this -- they have plenty of flexibility to be as aggressive as they'd like.

4. Patriots offensive lineman Marcus Cannon tweeted that he's headed for Baltimore, where he'll be part of the annual Ed Block Courage Awards. Cannon was selected by teammates for the honor this year.

5. Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" piece on SI.com has a Patriots hook. King explains how the big Rams-Redskins this weekend was partly influenced by Michael Holley's "War Room" book on the Patriots/draft.