If a list was created of Patriots priorities for a contract extension, receiver Randy Moss would currently fall behind nose tackle Vince Wilfork and quarterback Tom Brady, and possibly even behind Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins.
That might best explain why Moss, who enters the final year of his contract, said Saturday night that he believes 2010 will be his final season with the Patriots.
There is no contract extension imminent for him at this point. In fact, there probably haven't been any talks at this juncture.
Because Wilfork's contract expires, his situation is now at the top of the list. Feb. 25 is the deadline to place the franchise tag on players and all signs are pointing to the team assigning Wilfork the tag with the hope that talks can continue toward a long-term agreement.
However that unfolds, the next domino to fall figures to be Brady. He enters the final year of his contract and is scheduled to earn $3.5 million in base salary and a $3 million roster bonus.
A record-setting extension for Brady, which given the current market for top quarterbacks could be anywhere from $15-20 million per season, projects as one of the main pieces of the Patriots' team-building approach this offseason. Brady has never entered the final year of his contract as a Patriot and that's why he'd be the next line of business after Wilfork.
Assuming the Patriots reach resolutions with Wilfork and Brady, the question then would be who is the next priority for an extension.
Moss just turned 33 and while he's still one of the most dangerous receivers in the game, he's also closer to the end of his career than the beginning. The Patriots figure to be interested in re-signing him, but would they pay him No. 1 receiver money he might command elsewhere? Moss seems to think the answer is no. Perhaps the Patriots would be more inclined to invest big bucks in someone like Mankins, a two-time Pro Bowler in his prime years.
Moss's remarks Saturday night highlight the challenging contractual situation the Patriots currently find themselves. They have some big-time players nearing the end of their contracts, including Moss, whose $6.4 million base salary in 2010 is the richest of any player on the club.
How it all unfolds is part of what will make this Patriots offseason so compelling.