With the expected release of outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin today, what does that mean for the rest of the team's linebacker corps?
While the Patriots like to have flexibility within their defense -- with linebackers capable of playing different spots -- the key piece appears to be Adalius Thomas. Colvin's absence could mean that Thomas makes a more permament shift to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. Thomas played arguably his best game last season in the Super Bowl, when he was on the outside. Thomas played mostly inside linebacker until Colvin suffered a season-ending foot injury Nov. 25.
If Thomas does make a more permanent switch to the outside -- opposite of Mike Vrabel -- that would leave some holes on the inside of the 3-4 alignment. Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi ended the year as starters at inside linebacker, and both are free agents.
Three other options to consider at this point:
As has been the case in past seasons, the answers usually become more clear as time passes and more pieces are put into place through the offseason's three elements -- the draft, free agency and trade possibilities.
Colvin was scheduled to count $7.6 million against the 2008 salary cap. The Patriots will save $5.8 million on the cap by releasing him.