Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/11/13
The Patriots have officially turned the page on the 2012 season, and now it’s time to look toward the future. But that future begins now. NFL free agency won’t begin for another month (March 12), but that doesn’t mean Bill Belichick isn’t already entrenched into his studies to reload for his next Super Bowl run. The Patriots finished as one of the final four in 2012, a few mistakes and unfortunate injuries away from their own trip to New Orleans. There were a number of deficiencies that kept them from returning to the big game this year, including a battered defensive line, an inconsistent secondary and a season-ending injury to Rob Gronkowski in the divisional playoffs. The Patriots have a lot of areas to address this offseason. Keeping Gronk healthy throughout an entire season is obviously a major factor, as will be finding help in the secondary. Aqib Talib is not a definite to return, so the Patriots may need to dig deep into their wallets to pay some worthy defenders. The same could be said for the receiving corps, as both Wes Welker and Julian Edelman are currently headed for free agency and Brandon Lloyd remains the only viable receiver left on the roster. There is no doubt that the Patriots will be back in Super Bowl contention again next season — in fact they’ve already been listed among the favorites for Super Bowl XLVIII – but improvement have to be made and money will need to be spent. So, with all that in mind, let’s dive into the Patriots’ postseason plans and see if we can prioritize just what they need to do this offseason to ensure a visit to the Meadowlands next February. Click here to see the Pats’ top 10 priorities this offseason >> Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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