Patriots rank low in roster turnover

When looking at the Patriots' roster from the final week of the 2009 season -- including those on injured reserve -- the team has retained 51 players. That 86.4 percent retention ranks fifth in the NFL in terms of continuity, according to ESPN.com's Mike Sando.

Notables departures include tight ends Benjamin Watson and Chris Baker, defensive lineman Jarvis Green, outside linebacker Adalius Thomas and cornerback Shawn Springs.

But overall, the Patriots' core remains intact.

One might be surprised at the retention rate being so high given that part of the fallout from the 2009 season was the need for better locker-room chemistry. The idea of "blowing up" the locker room could have been viewed as a quick-fix for that problem.

Yet the flip side is that locker-room chemistry has many layers (as explored in this Patriots mailbag), and it takes more than an addition or subtraction to produce better chemistry.

The 86.4 percent retention highlights one of the major story lines for the 2010 New England Patriots.

If the team is to retain its perch atop the AFC East, the development of young players on the roster will be key. The team had 12 draft choices from 2009 that remain on the roster, including one rookie free agent (No. 2 QB Brian Hoyer). Add those 13 to another dozen draft picks in 2010 and that's potentially almost half the roster.

The high retention percentage, coupled with the large 2010 draft class and a smattering of veteran free-agent signings, should create solid across-the-board competition for roster spots.