Yes, Josh McDaniels stayed but, the Patriots still have holes to fill

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl LII, the New England Patriots were looking at an offseason of potentially major change.

Josh McDaniels' decision to remain with the team as offensive coordinator instead of taking the Indianapolis Colts' head-coaching job has created a trickle-down effect that has lessened the depth of change. Special teams coach Joe Judge and the club are finalizing details for his return, and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, who was a top candidate to join McDaniels in Indianapolis, might not be far behind.

So here are some of the key areas where questions remain:

Defensive coordinator. With Matt Patricia hired as the Detroit Lions head coach, linebackers coach Brian Flores is viewed as a top candidate to fill the role. If that's the way it unfolds, the Patriots would then have an opening for a new ...

Linebackers coach. Oftentimes, Bill Belichick will first look to his coaching assistants for a possible promotion, and that group includes Brian Belichick, DeMarcus Covington, Mike Pellegrino and Cole Popovich. If that isn't deemed the right fit, it would be one spot on the staff where a more experienced coach could be brought in. Speaking of experienced coaches ...

Clarity on key coaching spot along offensive line. Dante Scarnecchia, who came out of a two-year retirement to return to the Patriots in 2016, turns 70 on Feb. 14. He said at the Super Bowl he could envision himself coaching in 2018, but he also didn't commit to it because he wanted to keep his focus on the game. So that spot bears watching, as does ...

Two of the top three RBs as free agents. The Patriots relied heavily on Dion Lewis once he seized the top spot on the running back depth chart in the fifth week of the regular season, and he's scheduled for unrestricted free agency, as is No. 3 back Rex Burkhead. Elsewhere ...

Three of the top four OTs could depart. Starting left tackle Nate Solder and top backups Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle are all scheduled for unrestricted free agency, and that could deplete the team's depth chart in a hurry if other teams pounce. Likewise ...

Malcolm Butler's Patriots career could be over. Forever beloved in New England for his game-saving Super Bowl XLIX interception, Butler is set for unrestricted free agency. And after what happened in Super Bowl LII, when he didn't play a defensive snap due to what Belichick described as a coach's decision, his return to New England seems like a longer shot. On the opposite end of the spectrum ...

Danny Amendola is also a free agent. Given how clutch he's performed in big games, the 32-year-old Amendola should still have significant value to the team, and he's shown a rare level of loyalty by taking a pay cut each of the past three offseasons to remain with the club. Does it happen again? And if it does, can the Patriots duplicate ...

Finding another Jimmy Garoppolo-type prospect to develop. With a late-first-round pick (No. 31) and two second-rounders, the Patriots have some currency to maneuver to possibly draft a developmental quarterback. The depth chart underwent a big change when Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers on Oct. 31, and a second layer of change would come if the team can find "the next Garoppolo" to work behind Tom Brady (41 on Aug. 3) and Brian Hoyer.