FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Changes will be coming fast for the New England Patriots, both on the coaching staff and with players. While the disappointment of Super Bowl LII is still fresh for the team, as quarterback Tom Brady said after the game, “No one will feel sorry for us. We’ll evaluate like we always do. I’m sure everyone is pretty tired after a long year -- that’s football.”
Part of that evaluation is tied to the roster, which makes it timely to pass along a breakdown in terms of the season when each player’s contract expires.
While there is much work to be done from a team-building perspective, the snapshot below highlights how the Patriots are still in a solid place from both a short- and long-term perspective:
QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: Amendola has taken a pay cut each of the last three seasons to return, and as he showed in the Super Bowl with a strong performance, he still has plenty left in the tank. He should be a strong consideration to re-sign, although with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia landing head-coaching jobs, it's possible there could be increased competition from others for players like him. ... Three offensive tackles -- Solder, Fleming and Waddle -- represent a significant chunk of the depth chart. Solder can not be assigned the franchise tag, per the terms of his deal. ... Lewis and Burkhead were No. 1 and 3 on the running back depth chart. ... A fresh start for Butler seems likely. ... Slater remains a top special-teams player in the NFL.
QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: Branch likely won't have the 2018 part of his deal picked up, making him a free agent. ... McClellin, who spent the 2017 season on injured reserve, could be challenged to see the final year of his deal. ... Cooks, Flowers and Mason would be top projected candidates to consider for a contract extension prior to them reaching the end of their contracts after the '18 season.
QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: Bennett is unlikely to have his bonus picked up this offseason, which would make him a free agent and negate the 2018 and 2019 seasons of his contract. Then again, he might retire beforehand. ... Gronkowski is due a base salary of $8 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019, which is still a bargain and might have some connection to some remarks after Super Bowl LII about his future.
QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: With a smaller-than-the-norm 2017 draft class, the Patriots are a bit thinner than others with players signed through 2020, so it makes sense to think they'll go with more of a volume approach in this year's draft, when the majority of players selected will be signed through 2021.
QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: Gilmore played like a No. 1 cornerback down the stretch, and if that continues, the Patriots will have a top player at a hard-to-fill position locked up for the foreseeable future.