It's almost time. Speculation will soon be confirmed or denied, rumors will either be given life or snuffed out and players you couldn't imagine wearing different colors will wear gleaming smiles as they hold up jerseys you couldn't imagine them in.
Though the draft is the most important day of the NFL offseason, free agency takes the honor for the most important stretch of days. Players whizz around, from AFC to NFC, north to south, San Francisco to Miami. Some teams spend the time twiddling their thumbs, watching everyone else go nuts, while other teams park themselves right in the middle of the frenzy.
If you follow the New England Patriots and don't shut your football antenna down after Bill Belichick coughs and murmurs through his final press conference, you know that the defending AFC champions are at the heart of plenty of meat market rumors. The Pats need offense and they need defense. Even a team finishing one play away from a Super Bowl title can stand to be improved here and there.
Here are players the Patriots should be thinking about as we get closer to Tuesday and the start of this festive period. The Patriots won't come away with all of these players—heck, they might very well get none—but if New England is doing its due diligence, it's planning on being in the running for these players right down to the wire.