The opening flurry of Free Agency is over, but that doesn't mean the Patriots are done adding new faces. All Pro Mike Vrabel signed in the Spring of 2001, while veteran guard Brian Waters didn't sign until September.
Rosters change, players grow, and the current team you see right now will look very different from the one finishing the 2015 season.
Over the past week, we've seen the following changes on the New England offense:
RB Shane Vereen to the Giants on a 3 year, $12 million contract.
OG Dan Connolly and RB Stevan Ridley are still free agents.
FB James Develin and WR Brian Tyms have signed back.
The Patriots have signed RB Dion Lewis (futures contract back in January), WRs Kevin Dorsey and Brandon Gibson (with more on the way), and TE Scott Chandler.
It wouldn't be too difficult to argue that the Patriots haven't stepped too far backwards on offense. In reality, the league's best offense, until they benched all of their starters in Week 17, will be returning most of the same cast, if not improving upon some positions.
Chandler is a more versatile player than either Michael Hoomanawanui or Tim Wright as he can both catch and block. The competition for the receiver spots behind Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell is wide open and, let's be serious, until the playoffs there was no real consistency or value from the Patriots receiver depth.
The loss of Vereen will have an impact on third down, but let's not forget that Bill Belichick has seamlessly moved from Kevin Faulk to Danny Woodhead to Vereen. Apart from 2011, the Patriots have had a running with 25+ receptions every season under Belichick. Don't forget that the recently extended Brandon Bolden was used as Vereen's replacement during injury.
New England is comfortable with the top tier talent they have on the offensive side and are just working to replenish and improve upon the back-end of their roster.
On defense, the Patriots have seen far more turnover:
CB Darrelle Revis to the Jets on a 5 year, $70 million contract.
CB Brandon Browner to the Saints on a 3 year, $15 million contract.
ED Akeem Ayers to the Rams on a 2 year, $10 million contract.
LB Jonathan Casillas to the Giants on a 3 year, $10.5 million contract.
DT Vince Wilfork is still a free agent.
DTs Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga, LB James Morris and Chris White, and S Devin McCourty have signed back.
The Patriots have signed ED Jabaal Sheard and Rufus Johnson (futures), DT Antonio Johnson (futures), LB Jonathan Freeny, and CB Chimdi Chekwa.
There is clearly a loss in the secondary with the departure of both starting cornerbacks, but Sheard is expected to be more of an impact player than Ayers was in his tenure. Casillas was a one-year rental, but the Patriots are expecting a major competition for the 4th and 5th linebacker spots on the roster.
The Patriots are not done addressing the secondary. Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, and Malcolm Butler are quality players with unique skill sets, but they have their obvious weaknesses. Arrington is the only player who can handle a receiver with speed, but he can't handle outside receivers.
Wilfork's status is in question, but the Patriots have making sure they have enough beef on the line in case he signs with another franchise.
The return of Dominique Easley and Jerod Mayo from the injured reserve will bolster the defensive front seven, while Sheard is paid like he'll be an active part of the defensive rotation. Sheard's 2015 cap hit is slightly larger than Rob Ninkovich's, so it makes sense that Sheard will not be considered a back-up.
The defensive front seven features top options at all three linebacker roles, at both defensive end spots, and offers elite potential at one of the defensive tackle positions. If New England is going to compensate for their secondary, they'll need their front seven to step up. The pieces are in place for that to happen.
For special teams the Patriots have signed kicked Stephen Gostkowski. Factor in the signing of long snapper Tyler Ott, while last season's snapper Danny Aiken is still a free agent, and you have a really battle on your hands.
New England is far from done with their roster build, but the losses are not as bad as they initially seem.