Offseason Forecast: New England Patriots

*With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series kicks off with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. *

What's changing?

The parade is over, and now the work begins. The Patriots have stayed near the top of the NFL for so long because of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and constant change. That will remain true this offseason. While their team is mostly young, the Patriots have five starters set to hit free agency with Darrelle Revis' status also a huge question mark. They have big decisions to make in the secondary and at running back, but the coaching staff remains intact except for retiring special teams coach Scott O'Brien.

Biggest free agents

» S Devin McCourty: NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the safety will remain in New England. McCourty agreed to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, according to Rapoport, per a source informed of the situation.

» RBs*Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley:* The running backs were drafted together in 2011 and have enjoyed plenty of success, including Vereen's 12-catch Super Bowl performance. He is the new school Kevin Faulk, but might get good money to go elsewhere. Ridley is coming off a torn ACL.

» K Stephen Gostkowski: He's the third longest tenured Patriot behind Brady and Wilfork. The team decided to use their 2015 franchise tag in order to keep the kicker locked down in New England.

Other key free agents: G Dan Connolly, LB Akeem Ayers, DT Sealver Siliga, LB Jonathan Casillas, DT Alan Branch.

On the way out?

» CB Darrelle Revis: The Patriotshaven't ruled out paying Revis his $20 million salary. They don't have to pay him his big option bonus until March 10, the first day of free agency. The Patriots have an advantage in any efforts to keep Revis because he's already under contract.

» DT Vince Wilfork: Don't be stunned if the Patriots cut Wilfork. It would be cold blooded, but releasing Wilfork could save over $8 million in cap room, and he was a so-so starter this season. It would be a very "on to 2015" Patriots move.

» WR Danny Amendola: He salvaged his Patriots career with 34 catches in the last five games of the season, including a strong playoff run. But the third receiver has a $5.7 million cap hit, and the Patriots might consider moving on. They could save more than $2 million in cap space.

» LB*Jerod Mayo:* With the veteran coming off two injury-marred seasons, look for the Patriots to approach Mayo about a restructured contract. He has a cap hit of $10.2 million, but look for the Pats to work something out.

What they need

New England's best two defensive backs and running backs have uncertain futures. That will be a focus. Brandon LaFell was a big hit in his first season, but the Patriots need more speed on the outside. On defense, the team is desperately in need of some beef for their interior defensive line. Look for draft picks there.

Offseason crystal ball

McCourty should be retained by a huge long-term extension. The Patriots have leverage with Revis; look for him to stay at least one more season. The team can clear some room by cutting Wilfork, reminding everyone that Belichick is not sentimental. They can rebuild their running back position in the draft, letting Vereen walk.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps Super Bowl XLIX, including Malcolm Butler's game-sealing interception, Tom Brady's legacy and more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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