With less than two months until free agency begins, coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and the rest of the New England Patriots front office will begin the process of evaluating their current roster and building their squad for next season.
At the moment, the following players have expiring contracts and are set to become free agents in March:
Unrestricted free agents (18):
S/CB Will Allen
WR Deion Branch
G/C Jamey Richard
DE Trevor Scott
CB Aqib Talib
WR Wes Welker
LB Tracy White
Quick hit: Free agency could hit the Patriots hard at two positions: wide receiver and cornerback. It's likely that there will be turnover at these positions, even if the Patriots are able to retain two of their top free agents, Welker and Talib.
Restricted free agents (2):
TE/FB Michael Hoomanawanui
Quick hit: Both of these players should be back in the mix for next season.
The Patriots currently have 54 players under contract for the 2013 season. The offseason roster limit is 80, so the Patriots will have more than two dozen open spots.
Quick hit: One offseason storyline will be if any teams show interest in Mallett, who earned the backup quarterback job this season despite completing just 49 percent of his passes in the preseason. Kafka, who signed a future contract earlier this month, is a developmental project.
Quick hit: This group may remain fully intact for next season, especially if Woodhead is re-signed. Demps, the speedy ex-Olympian, will be a name to watch in 2013.
Quick hit: The Patriots stocked up at this position last offseason, but things didn't pan out with either Larsen or Tony Fiammetta, who remains on the "left squad" list. Larsen could get another shot to make the team next season.
Quick hit: The thinnest position on the roster entering the offseason. Lloyd is the only true, veteran receiver of the group. If the Patriots decide not to franchise Welker and can't retain him, there will be an alarming need for talent here.
Quick hit: With Hoomanawanui, a restricted free agent, likely back in the mix, this position will be deep entering 2013, although Fells' status could be in question, as he is due a $1.25 million base salary.
Quick hit: If the Patriots are able to re-sign Vollmer, this position will be in good shape heading into next season, depending on how the team evaluates Cannon as their top backup for another season.
Quick hit: If Thomas is re-signed, the core of this group remains intact.
Quick hit: The deepest position on the roster. Bequette could get a chance to prove himself in 2013 if Scott is not re-signed.
Quick hit: It's not a major need, but look for the Patriots to add some depth behind Wilfork, while also giving their interior pass rush a boost.
Quick hit: If special teams mavens White and Koutouvides are re-signed, and Fletcher is retained through restricted free agency, the Patriots should be in good shape here.
Quick hit: There's always the possibility that McCourty returns to cornerback, but the Patriots will need to add some talent at this position. Re-signing Talib would only be a start. Anything the Patriots get from DowLing at this point would be a bonus.
Quick hit: McCourty helped shore up this position in the second half of the season and could remain at safety. The odds are against Chung returning, but it will have little effect on the depth chart, with Gregory and Wilson likely remaining part of the mix.
Quick hit: Belichick likes continuity at these positions, and he could be looking at a third consecutive season with this group together.