For the 2013 New England Patriots, the offseason has been a time of turmoil, adjusting, learning and adjusting some more.
Seriously, the roster underwent a bigger overhaul than Michael Jackson’s skin pigmentation.
They trimmed the proverbial fat (if only I could shed real fat as easily) by releasing 2012 starters Brandon Lloyd, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick. They let Wes Welker test the free-agent market and he called the team’s bluff by joining archrival Peyton Manning in Denver.
It was a painful breakup for fans, and the local media reacted like a spurned high-school cheerleader when the Patriots signed Danny Amendola, proclaiming in essence, “Wes didn’t leave us, we dumped him. Danny was the guy we wanted the whole time. Besides he’s, like, way hotter and taller and he’s totally perfect for us.”
Danny Woodhead joined the exodus by plugging in with the Chargers, and Deion Branch is still swaying in the free-agent breeze.
Out with the old, in with the new. Change is constant for the Patriots and even though they bid farewell to many familiar faces, they welcomed even more newcomers to Foxboro.
Through it all, they kept plugging away in free agency and the draft, ultimately entering mid-June with 90 players competing for 53 roster spots.
Upcoming mandatory minicamps and next month’s training camp will go a long way towards shaping the final roster, as will the preseason, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the spring months. Rookie minicamps and OTAs (organized team activities) present players with their first opportunities to turn some heads.
Here are eight Patriots who’ve done just that, giving themselves an early edge to build on during the offseason’s ongoing roster competition.