When it comes to personnel, Patriots' offseason has different feel in '16

Tom Brady will return to the forefront on March 3 when oral arguments are heard in the NFL's appeal of the QB's suspension. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Mike Sando of ESPN.com Insider was putting together his columnInsider on the teams potentially facing the wildest offseasons based on roster turnover with key contributors, one thing stood out to him from a New England Patriots perspective.

They aren't taking a walk on the wild side this year. Not even close.

In fact, when factoring in released players, potential free agents and their 2015 regular-season snap totals for all clubs, the Patriots ranked 32nd out of 32 teams. The Patriots don't have a lot of free-agent questions this year.

In that sense, the 2016 offseason is a sharp contrast from last year at this time, when the free-agent status of cornerback Darrelle Revis was a huge storyline, as was the future of franchise cornerstone player Vince Wilfork as well as others such as cornerback Brandon Browner and running back Shane Vereen.

Add in that the Patriots don't have a first-round draft pick this year, which the NFL stripped away as part of the Deflategate punishment, and it's an offseason that lacks some of the normal buzz that follows the team.

Of course, there remains the huge story of the NFL's appeal of quarterback Tom Brady's suspension, which will be back in the news March 3 when oral arguments are heard. Brady's legal fight with the NFL was also a big part of last offseason.

So while the Patriots aren't completely off the radar, the differences between this offseason and last are still extreme.

Yes, there is still important business to handle – the draft remains critical to build depth, there should be a few supplemental free-agent signings, and this is the early stages of the two-year window to address contract extensions for key defenders Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones and Malcolm Butler.

But if the Patriots' offseason was summed up briefly, “quiet” and “under the radar” are two thoughts that come to mind.

So different from 2015.