Jermaine Cunningham was facing a make-or-break season in 2012 but managed to carve out an interior sub-rusher role after Jonathan Fanene, Myron Pryor and anyone else they tried there didn't work out.
Cunningham was really starting to come on before he was suspended after Week 12 for PEDs.
Cunningham played just 48 snaps in 2011 after a promising 2010 rookie season that saw him make a solid transition to outside linebacker, primarily in the 3-4 defense. Before his suspension Cunningham was playing over 50 percent of the snaps and had four sacks, evidence that he was starting to blossom in the sub-rusher role.
When he returned, it appeared he was in Bill Belichick's doghouse, getting just six snaps against the Texans in the first playoff game, before getting 32 snaps against the pass-happy Ravens where he was mostly ineffective.
Cunningham will need to carve out a role for himself again in 2013. The Patriots will surely bring in new interior pass-rushers, and ones who are a more traditional fit for that role. If Cunningham cannot return to the form he was displaying just before his suspension, he might not make it out of training camp.
He still has some versatility to play defensive end and linebacker, and that might save him, especially if injuries strike early. But at this point it's tough to say where his best fit is, and that could hurt his chances of earning a new contract from the Pats.