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All of the key players are locked up through the coming season, though with Love heading into his fourth season, they could sign him to an extension. Scott signed a one-year deal and got more effective as the season went on. Pryor missed the entire year because of shoulder surgery.
■ Jerod Mayo (2017), Dont’a Hightower (2015), Rob Ninkovich (2013), Brandon Spikes (2013), Mike Rivera (2013). Free agents: Dane Fletcher, Niko Koutouvides, Tracy White.
Ninkovich was a playmaker and should be due for a pay raise, and the Patriots could try to extend Spikes as well. Fletcher, who was a top backup in 2010 and ’11, tore his ACL in the first preseason game this year and seems likely to be back. White is a special-teams ace and also saw spot time on defense; he played this season on a one-year deal.
■ Alfonzo Dennard (2015), Nate Ebner (2015), Tavon Wilson (2015), Devin McCourty (2014), Steve Gregory (2014), Ras-I Dowling (2014), Malcolm Williams (2013). Free agents: Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Patrick Chung, Marquice Cole, Derrick Martin
It already has been asked: Can the Patriots keep both Welker and Talib? They certainly need both. Talib’s importance to the secondary was underscored when he was hurt late in the first quarter against Baltimore. He is the best cornerback New England has had since Asante Samuel, but like Samuel, he could be gone. Though he comes with baggage, Talib may have rehabilitated his image enough during his time with the Patriots that another team will want him long-term.
■ K Stephen Gostkowski (2014), P Zoltan Mesko (2013), LS Danny Aiken (2013).
Nothing to see here . . . though these three do have good chemistry on and off the field.