Free-agent OL Ryan Wendell in a holding pattern as he returns to health

Could the return of Dante Scarnecchia as the Patriots' offensive line coach mean Ryan Wendell is more likely to return to New England? Jerome Davis/Getty Images

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Free-agent veteran offensive lineman Ryan Wendell is in a holding pattern contractually as he continues to return to health from a knee injury that ended his 2015 season after just two games, his agent, Frank Bauer, said Monday at the NFL's annual owners meeting.

Wendell, 30, was a New England Patriots captain last season.

One line of thinking is that the return of veteran offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to the Patriots could be good news for a possible return for Wendell, who was developed by Scarnecchia from practice-squad player (2008) to valuable starter at all three positions on the interior of the line.

But the Patriots' acquisition of Jonathan Cooper from Arizona, coupled with the influx of young interior linemen the last two seasons -- a group including centers Bryan Stork and David Andrews and guards Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson -- could create a pinch with Wendell.

Wendell is one of the notable remaining Patriots free agents, along with running back LeGarrette Blount and cornerback Tarell Brown.