Big-name Patriots veterans in contract years

Big-name Patriots veterans in contract years
July 21, 2014, 2:30 pm

When the Patriots start training camp later this week, 90 players will take the practice fields at Gillette to compete for their jobs. About a sixth of those will be veterans working toward something more: their next contracts.

Here's a quick rundown of the Patriots whose deals are set to expire after this season.

Darrelle Revis, CB
The lockdown corner has a $20 million option for 2015 that will almost certainly not be picked up by the Patriots regardless of how well he plays. Though he may be inclined to hit the free-agent market after this season, Bill Belichick and his front office could work to get Revis on a long-term deal midseason if all goes well in their new relationship.

Devin McCourty, S
With their versatile and dependable safety set to hit the open market after this season, McCourty could be another player who has a new deal in New England midseason. As the passing game around the league has become more important so has the safety position and McCourty is one of the best in the business, earning second-team All-Pro honors last season.

Stephen Gostkowski, K
The Patriots kicker led the league in points in 2013, was named to the Pro Bowl, and came through with multiple clutch kicks to help his team win games last season. He could make some serious cash as a free agent, but last year took a pretty laid-back look at his career saying "this is all bonus." Might that mean he'd be willing to take less if he likes life in Foxborough? Time will tell.

Dan Connolly, G
That the Patriots drafted three offensive lineman -- and two interior linemen -- this spring doesn't bode well for the veteran guard. Though reliable and a positionally-flexible fit in New England's scheme, Connolly will have to have a good training camp to fend off the likes of rookie Jon Halapio and well-liked second-year guard Josh Kline. Connolly may still be the best player among them, but he's also the most expensive as he carries a $2.5 millon cap hit.

Matthew Slater, ST/WR
As one of the best special teamers in the game, Slater has been invaluable to the third phase of the game that Belichick so reveres. The fact that he's one of the most respected players in the Patriots locker room certainly doesn't hurt his chances of getting a new deal in New England, either.

Shane Vereen, RB
Valuable when on the field, Vereen will need to prove that he can remain there as he goes into his contract year. He's the ultimate Swiss Army knife -- able to run and catch out of the backfield or line up wide to expose a matchup as a receiver -- but he hasn't yet had a season when he's gone wire-to-wire without an injury costing him time.

Stevan Ridley, RB
Ridley's issues haven't been injury-related. For him it's all about consistency. If he can prove to the Patriots coaching staff that he can be a reliable nearly-every-down back who isn't going to fumble, it may land him more than playing time. It could earn him a nice new contract.

Ryan Mallett, QB
Tom Brady need not be worried about his immediate future with the Patriots after they drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in May. Ryan Mallett? That's another story. Belichick mentioned Mallett's contract situation -- that he's up after this year -- as one of the reasons for drafting Garoppolo. A solid training camp performance would likely guarantee that Mallett remains the backup for now, but he's far from a lock to be a part of this team in 2015 and beyond.

Marcus Cannon, OL
There is value in a good swing offensive lineman, and Cannon could be lined up as that guy for the Patriots again this year. With a good camp, he has the potential to serve as Connolly's replacement at right guard, but his ability to play both guard and tackle whenever injury strikes makes him an important cog to the offensive line regardless of whether he's starting or not. If there's greener pastures elsewhere after this season -- and a team that's willing to hand him a starting role -- he could be gone.

Tommy Kelly, DT
After suffering a season-ending knee injury last season at the age of 32, Kelly will be more focused on making sure he cements a spot on the 53-man roster rather than looking ahead to his next deal. Nearing the twilight of his career, Kelly reportedly restructured his deal to free up about $800,000 in cap space for the team this offseason.

Brandon Bolden, RB
This is an important training camp for Bolden, who could be perceived as a player "on the bubble." Though he's been a valued special teamer during his time in New England, the team re-stocked its running back position this offseason. They drafted James White in the fourth round and picked up a couple of intriguing undrafted free agents in Roy Finch and Stephen Houston. There won't be room for all of them.

James Develin, FB/TE
We add the tight-end label above because that's where he spent his time during the days when media members had access to OTAs and mini-camp. A favorite of Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Develin is a well-rounded player who could make an impact in a multitude of ways -- as a tight end, as a blocking fullback, or on the goal line. His characteristics make him the kind of role player the Patriots might like to keep around.

James Anderson, LB
The veteran linebacker could fill a void as a coverage linebacker, something the Patriots had in the now-departed Dane Fletcher. Before he can think about his next contract, he'll have to show he has enough left in his legs to be a contributor this season. One would think that would be the case after he racked up 100 tackles for the Bears in 2013.

Will Smith, DT
Again, Smith is another player for whom thoughts of next season are likely a long way off. He knows he's much closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Coming off of a season-ending injury in New Orleans last season, he's likely just hoping to make the team and not be one of New England's annual big-name free agent releases.

Sealver Siliga, DT
An earth-moving tackle more in the mold of Vince Wilfork than Tommy Kelly, Siliga proved to be an important part of the Patriots defense at the end of last season when it needed all the help it could get stopping opposing running games. If he makes the team, and injuries strike once again -- Wilfork, Kelly and first-round pick Dominique Easley are all coming off of season-ending surgeries -- Siliga could make a case for himself to be considered for another deal.

DJ Williams, TE
Right now the numbers game doesn't look good for Williams. On what may be his last chance to stick with an NFL club -- he's already spent time with the Packers and Jaguars -- the lone true "move" tight end on the Patriots roster will have to earn a spot as the Pats seem to be moving away from their tight-end based sets and more toward looks that will feature a variety of receivers.

Patrick Chung, S
Might the second-go round for the Patriots be better than the first? His role will likely be reduced -- he would have to beat out up-and-coming second-year man Duron Harmon to start at safety alongside McCourty -- but he could provide some special teams value if he makes the team out of camp. After that? Who knows.

Danny Aiken, LS
On a one-year deal signed this offseason, Aiken will look to continue to go largely unnoticed in the kicking game. That'll mean he's doing his job. Tyler Ott, an undrafted long-snapper out of Harvard, will be in training camp to give Aiken some competition.