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New England Patriots Links 2/10/12 - Team, Coaching Staff in Good Shape Heading Into Off-Season

Paul Kenyon wonders if Belichick will give Matt Patricia the defensive coordinator title this year.

One item worth following between now and the beginning of next season will be whether Belichick gives Matt Patricia the title of defensive coordinator. It was not until late in the season when Belichick acknowledged that Patricia was calling the defensive signals. In theory, at least, Belichick has kept the title of defensive coordinator for himself. Patricia, who played his football at Rensselaer Poly Tech in New York, has been with the Patriots for eight years. He has worked his way up from offensive assistant, to assistant offensive line coach, the linebackers coach and this past season as safeties coach.

Even if he decides to give Patricia the title of defensive coordinator, there is no doubt that Belichick will remain heavily involved with the defense, as he is with the entire organization. The coach turns 60 in April, but has shown no indication of slowing down.

Glen Farley says with free agency a little more than a month away, the Patriots are in good shape to participate.

According to league-wide figures compiled by Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Patriots are currently at a salary cap figure of $101.887,741. That’s eighth lowest in the NFL, giving them $20 million or more of wiggle room under the projected 2012 limit of $121-$125 million.

It goes without saying that a portion of team owner Robert Kraft’s bank account will be needed to retain Wes Welker’s services. If the two sides are unable to come to terms, the franchise tag at wide receiver would cost the Patriots $9.4 million.

There is also a need to upgrade the supporting cast at a position where Deion Branch is also a free agent (and, if retained, would best serve as the third option). Also – news flash! – the team isn’t about to pay Chad Ochocinco $3 million in base salary to return in 2012.