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Key upcoming dates on calendar for Patriots fans to keep in mind

01.22.14 at 6:30 am ET
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Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick will likely make an appearance at the combine next month. (AP)

Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick likely will make an appearance at the combine next month. (AP)

With the Patriots 2013 season now in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at some of the key dates over the next four months for New England fans to keep in mind.

Feb. 2: Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, New Jersey – It might be too painful for Patriots fans, but ex-New Englanders like Wes Welker, Tony Carter, Jeremy Mincey and Pete Carroll all have a shot at winning a Super Bowl.

Feb. 17: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players – This is an impactful day for the Patriots for a few reasons, including the fact that they could exercise the franchise tag on a number of potential free agents including cornerback Aqib Talib or wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Feb. 19-25: Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis – Expect the Patriots to send several members of the front office and scouting and coaching staffs, including personnel chief Nick Caserio.

March 8-11: The open window for teams to contact and start contract talks with players who will become free agents when their 2013 deals expire at 4 p.m. on March 11. A contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m. on March 11 – This is an opportunity for teams to begin discussions with players who will become free agents later in the month to start talking about contracts.

March 11: New league year, free agency begins – Before 4 p.m., clubs must exercise options for 2014 on all players who have option clauses in their 2013 contracts. In addition, teams must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts, and clubs must be under the 2014 salary cap before 4 p.m. According to reports, the cap will be between $126 million and $127 million.

March 23-26: Owners meetings, Orlando, Fla. – In year’s past, this has been one of the first opportunities in the offseason for coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft to address the media.

May 2: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets – Long snapper Danny Aiken is a restricted free agent.

May 8-10: NFL draft, New York, Radio City Music Hall. First round begins at 8 p.m. – The Patriots currently have single picks in the first, second, third, fourth and seventh rounds, as well as two in the sixth round. (They dealt their fifth-round pick to the Eagles in exchange for defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga.)

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