As the Patriots start practice today and begin a six-month journey that will hopefully culminate in the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title, here is my waaaaaaay too early projection of who will make the 53-man roster for Week 1 in Arizona.
Quarterback (2) - Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Obviously, Garoppolo is just keeping this spot warm for Tom Brady.
Don't be surprised if Belichick brings in a veteran quarterback to help with the load at training camp but I'd be shocked if he keeps more than Garoppolo and Brissett to start the season.
Running Back (5) - Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Donald Brown, James Develin
Lewis, Blount, and Develin are all returning from 2015 season-ending injuries so their health will be worth watching in camp.
Bolden's special teams contributions will once again earn him a spot on the team.
I have Brown beating out James White, who struggled to shine when Lewis' injury provided him an opportunity to play last year.
Tight End (3) - Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, A.J. Derby
I have Derby beating out Clay Harbor for now.
Wide Receiver (5) - Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Keshawn Martin, Malcolm Mitchell
Barring a breakout performance in camp or injury issues, Aaron Dobson's time in New England will come to an end.
Offensive Line (9) - Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Bryan Stork, Jonathan Cooper, Joe Thuney, Marcus Cannon, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, LaAdrian Waddle
This initial projection has the Patriots saving some money by saying goodbye to Josh Kline and starting Tre' Jackson on the PUP list.
One potential surprise cut could be third-year center Bryan Stork who has struggled with concussions and other injuries. Andrews did a fine job at center when he played in 2015 and rookie Joe Thuney can play guard or center.
Defensive End (6) - Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, Shea McClellin, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom
Despite the trade of Chandler Jones to the Cardinals, the Patriots pass rush should be in good hands with this group of defensive ends. McClellin should also provide additional roster depth at linebacker.
Defensive Tackle (4) - Terrance Knighton, Malcolm Brown, Alan Branch, Vincent Valentine
There is some serious size in this group. Knighton and Branch are proven run stuffers, Brown is coming off of a solid rookie season, and the rookie Valentine has the potential to contribute as well.
Linebacker (4) - Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jonathan Freeny, Kamu Grugies-Hill
Hightower and Collins are All-Pro caliber players. The only issue with them is their impending free agency.
Freeny is a decent backup who also helps on special teams. Hill, a rookie, should make the team for depth and special teams.
Safety (6) - Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Nate Ebner, Brandon King
I think Ebner will be back in time from his Olympic Rugby experience to make the Week 1 roster.
Cornerback (5) - Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts
No surprises at cornerback although if Ebner is not ready for Week 1, look for Jonathan Jones or E.J. Biggers to make the team.
Special Teams (4) - Stephen Gostkowski, Matthew Slater, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona
Absolutely no surprises.