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New England Patriots Who Must Step Up in 2015

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Roster turnover in the NFL is inevitable and no one knows this better than the New England Patriots, who have put together the best record in the league over the last decade-plus with an ever-changing group of players surrounding Tom Brady.

This offseason has been no different, with the departure of starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, key receiving back Shane Vereen and long-time stalwart Vince Wilfork. With Wilfork's departure, Brady remains the only player still connecting the Patriots' Super Bowl title in 2004 to their most recent this past season.

Here are three players who are under  the radar and will need to step to the forefront this season.

Sealver Siliga

Siliga was a revelation replacing the injured Wilfork in 2013, and now with Wilfork's departure, Siliga could be the key space-eating defensive tackle on the Patriots' defense. Siliga looked primed to build on his success this season, but injuries held him to just seven games and just a quarter of the snaps. Wilfork accounted for nearly 74 percent of the snaps this past season, so that's significant amount of playing time that will need to be filled. 

Still, Siliga played almost just as many snaps as Wilfork in the Super Bowl, a sign that he could be a big part of the Patriots' plans going forward. Replacing Wilfork is no small task, literally and figuratively, but Siliga looks like a big piece of the equation.

Travaris Cadet

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Shane Vereen had 11 catches in the Super Bowl and that performance put him out of the Patriots' price range this offseason. He signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the New York Giants, leaving a hole in the Pats' backfield.

The pass-catching running back has always been a significant role in the Patriots' offense. Kevin Faulk held it down for most of the last decade, before Danny Woodhead took it over in 2010. While Brandon Bolden can fill in and second-year player James White should compete for the role this season, it's new free agent acquisition Cadet who is the favorite.

Cadet caught 38 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns for the New Orleans Saints in 2014. Sean Payton had high praise for his football smarts and "exceptional" hands. It should be fascinating to see how the Patriots involve his skill set in their attack.

Malcolm Butler

Butler made one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, but that was of little reassurance to Patriots fans after the departures of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Butler was a standout making plays on the ball from the start of training camp. It wasn't an accident or luck that he had three passes defensed to go with the interception in relief duty in the Super Bowl.

But just what is Butler's ceiling? He played just 16.6 percent of the regular season snaps. The potential seems to be there, as evidenced by a matchup with Emmanuel Sanders where Butler held his own.

The Patriots have brought in three veteran cornerbacks in free agency - Chimdi Chekwa, Bradley Fletcher and Robert McClain, and could still add more through the draft. But with both starting corner spots open, Butler has a chance to build on the success he had on the biggest stage of all.

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.