Mike Reiss believes these Patriots players could be released ahead of free agency

Ron Chenoy | USA TODAY Sports

The NFL offseason is under way. It is a time for contract discussions, setting plans and even a little housekeeping (among players, that is).

There’s a lot that will go down over the next few months, with free agency, the draft, OTAs, training camp and much, much more.

But for now, we’ll take a look at some New England Patriots players who could potentially be released ahead of free agency. ESPN’s Mike Reiss dives deeper into these player analyses.

Tight end, Dwayne Allen, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.5 million in 2018 with $500,000 in per-game active roster bonuses. With a limited performance this year and a potential total compensation of $5 million next year, we could possibly see Allen and the Patriots part ways.

Fellow tight end, Martellus Bennett came back to New England in unusual fashion. With injury drama with the Green Bay Packers and hints of retirement, the tight end somehow found his way back on the Patriots’ squad. The team must decide whether to pay him a $2 million roster bonus by the first day of the 2018 league year in March. If they choose to do so, it would activate the final two years on his contract. Currently, he is set to earn a base salary of $3.6 million in 2018 with $2.6 million in roster bonuses.

Defensive tackle, Alan Branch, slid to the No. 4 option on the depth chart late this past season, which could affect his compensation. New England must choose whether or not to pay Branch a $1 million bonus on the first day of the 2018 league year, which would keep him under contract for the season at a $1.7 million base salary (including bonuses).

Running back Mike Gillislee in in an interesting situation. He started the year out strong, but hardly played in the latter half of the season. But Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are both scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Depending on what happens with them, there could be an option for Gillislee to stay with the Patriots.

Linebacker David Harris didn’t get much playing time at the end of the season and didn’t factor into special teams either. With a base salary of $1.75 million and a potential $500,000 more in roster bonuses, it seems a little pricey for a backup veteran.

Linebacker Shea McClellin spent the past season on injured reserve because of a concussion. His $2.125 million salary and health concerns bring up a bit of concern for his future on the team.

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