This is a shameless steal from our friends over at Buffalo Rumblings, who are out of the playoffs and are looking at players who might be playing their last game for the Bills.
This isn't the Patriots last game, but this is the final regular season game on the road to the playoffs. A road that 10 key players might not be around for next season. Let's pay some respect:
10. LS Danny Aiken - Take a quick guess at when you think Aiken joined the Patriots. He's been shaky, sure, but he's been around since 2011. There's something to be said for consistency at the snapper position and after some early struggles, there haven't been many hiccups as of late. The 18th longest tenured Patriot might be snapping his last.
9. DL Alan Branch - The Bills are Branch's former team and he wasn't around for the first match. He's stepped in as an invaluable rotational lineman, playing with Sealver Siliga and Vince Wilfork to solidify the Patriots run defense. He also generates some quality push into the backfield, making the departure of Tommy Kelly a little less noticeable.
8. LB Jonathan Casillas - What a mid-season pick-up by Belichick. Casillas has stepped in as a core special teamer, a spot starter in the defense, and a versatile defender. The cost? Dropping from the bottom of the 5th round to the top of the sixth.
7. Edge Akeem Ayers - Ayers needs to be playing more (coach, please sit Rob Ninkovich to both rest him, but also because Ayers deserves time. If you're willing to rotate offensive tackles, you absolutely should see that Nink needs a break). But he basically saved the Patriots season once Chandler Jones went down with an injury. The cost? Cheaper than Casillas. The Patriots dropped from the back of the sixth round to the top of the seventh.
6. S Patrick Chung - He may be coming off of his worst game back with the Patriots, but literally one player played well against the Jets (hey, Danny Amendola!). He's been a crucial member of the secondary and the perfect complement to a single deep safety coverage. Chung packs a wallop against the run and is good enough at covering players in front of him.
5. OL Dan Connolly - O Capt'n. He'll be 33 at the start of next season. He's hurt. He's playing like the worst guard in the league. The Patriots absolutely can't afford to not improve their interior line. He's the fourth longest tenured Patriot (since 2007), behind Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, and Stephen Gostkowski. This might be his last ride.
4. RB Shane Vereen - Only 25, Vereen has done a great job as an outlet receiver to help move the sticks, as well as a change-up in the backfield. It still feels like the coaches don't know how to truly harness his abilities, and the drafting of James White might mean they never will. He's fourth on the team in yards, but this might be his last hoorah.
3. K Stephen Gostkowski - Mr. Automatic has lived up the big shoes he was asked to fill. His 32 field goals on the year is 2nd in the league, behind the Bills' Dan Carpenter's 33 completions. His field goal completion rate is 3rd all time, behind two players (Justin Tucker, Dan Bailey) who only started to qualify for the list this season. He's been with the team since 2006.
2. S Devin McCourty - McCourty has quickly developed into one of the premier free safeties in the league, after a semi-successful stint at cornerback (where he still might be if the Patriots ever had, you know, a safety). A two-time All Pro, once at cornerback and once at safety, McCourty is a leader in the locker room and a unifying presence on the defense.
1. CB Darrelle Revis - Either the Patriots sign Revis long term, or he'll be finishing his career somewhere else. He's lived up to his reputation this season and has gotten better as the year's worn on. Revis has provided Bill Belichick with the top cornerback that he hasn't had in a decade and has helped bring the Patriots to their top 6 ranking they are today (in points allowed per drive).
Of course, we have to acknowledge RB Stevan Ridley, who is injured, as well as those who will likely need a contract amendment in order to stick around (WR Danny Amendola, LB Jerod Mayo). But the above list is for players this Week 17 whose roster spots are a little more tenuous.
Who do you think should be priorities to resign?