FOXBORO, Mass. — What do the Patriots, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention last weekend, have to play for over their final four games?

Pride, of course. No professional athlete wants to lose, even if doing so would help his team land a higher draft pick. But personal value is another important consideration for more than a dozen New England players.

Fifteen members of the Patriots’ 53-man roster are set to become unrestricted free agents when the new NFL league year opens in March, including a half-dozen starters and key contributors in all three phases.

“You don’t want to put bad tape out there regardless of what your record is,” one of those impending UFAs, linebacker Mack Wilson, said Wednesday. “You’re always playing for something. Not only are you playing for the Patriots, but there’s obviously 31 other teams watching to see how you respond when things aren’t going well.”

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The Patriots likely will re-sign some of their internal free agents, but many are bound to land elsewhere. With a 3-10 record and more than $75 million in available salary cap space for next season, significant changes surely are coming for New England’s roster.

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Who will be back in 2024? Here’s a closer look at the Patriots’ 15 soon-to-be free agents (in alphabetical order) as the season winds down:

WR Kendrick Bourne
Bourne was on pace for a career year before he tore his ACL in Week 7. That injury will hurt his market and could increase his chances of re-signing, but he’d also be an ideal secondary option for a contending team like the Kansas City Chiefs. Bourne’s ACL was season-ending, so he’s the only player on this list that won’t be available for the home stretch.

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TE Pharaoh Brown
Brown doesn’t touch the ball much as New England’s third tight end, but when he does, good things happen. His receiving line through 13 games: eight targets, eight catches, 174 yards, one touchdown. He’s averaging nearly 9 yards more per catch (21.4) than any other Patriots player. Brown also outsnapped Mike Gesicki in each of the last three games.

OT Trent Brown
Despite a half-dozen injuries, an illness and a temporary absence for personal reasons, Brown has given the Patriots quality left tackle play this season. He’s Pro Football Focus’s sixth-highest-graded tackle, and the Patriots have no desirable replacements for him in their pipeline. But Brown also hasn’t seen a full gameday workload since late October, missing two games and then rotating with Conor McDermott in the last three. Does he even want to be back in 2024? That’s another question. Brown said he’s looking forward to testing free agency and hasn’t been shy about voicing his opinion on internal team matters.

DB Myles Bryant
A smart, versatile and underrated defensive back, Bryant hasn’t missed a game since 2021 and ranks fourth among Patriots defenders in snaps played this season. He primarily plays in the slot but also can rotate back to safety.

ST Cody Davis
Davis returned from a serious knee injury in Week 7 and immediately regained his prominent role in the kicking game. He’s played 84% of New England’s special teams snaps since getting back on the field. At 34, Davis is the second-oldest active Patriot behind 38-year-old Matthew Slater. He’s a fine player. But New England devoted substantial resources to its special teams this season yet fields some of the worst units in the NFL.

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S Kyle Dugger
One of four 2020 draftees set to hit free agency, Dugger is an integral part of the Patriots’ secondary, playing 97% of defensive snaps this season. Head coach Bill Belichick recently called him and Jabrill Peppers two of the NFL’s best safeties, and Peppers said Dugger is tops in the league. Belichick also said he “absolutely” wants Dugger to stick around but noted before the season that players like him tend to “get paid a lot of money.” Dugger’s market value likely will influence whether he returns. Two factors working against him: He’s on the older side for a first-time free agent (28 in March) and he hasn’t been as splashy of a playmaker as he was last season, when he scored three defensive touchdowns.

RB Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott’s production this season hasn’t matched his Dallas Cowboys peak, but he’s been a solid addition as Rhamondre Stevenson’s running mate. Last week’s win over Pittsburgh was the best game yet for Elliott, who racked up 140 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown while Stevenson sat out with an ankle injury. The 28-year-old said this week that he likes playing in New England and would be “open” to re-signing. With Stevenson expected to miss multiple games, there should be plenty more opportunities for Elliott to prove his worth over the final four weeks.

TE Mike Gesicki
The Patriots signed Gesicki to a bargain deal last offseason, but that bet did not pay off. The de facto jumbo slot receiver has just 21 catches for 182 yards and one touchdown this season, and zero on two targets over the last three games. He seems unlikely to return in 2024.

TE Hunter Henry
A team captain for the first time this season, Henry ranks fourth among Patriots in offensive snaps played and leads the team in touchdowns (five). He’s stayed healthy — his biggest problem during his time with the Los Angeles Chargers — and been one of the few reliable target for both Patriots quarterbacks. Losing Henry would mean a complete overhaul of New England’s tight end room.

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LB Anfernee Jennings
Few Patriots players have boosted their stock this season more than Jennings. A healthy scratch for the first two games, the 2020 third-rounder emerged as a formidable run defender after Matthew Judon was lost to injury in Week 4. Jennings’ edge-setting prowess has been vital to the Patriots’ top-ranked run defense.

DB Jalen Mills
Mills switched from cornerback to safety last offseason and didn’t see much action early on, prompting him to gripe about his playing time on social media. He eventually settled into a rotational role, playing at least 30% of defensive snaps in each of the last seven games.

OL Mike Onwenu
The Patriots strongly resisted moving Onwenu out of his naturaly right guard posistion, where he played at a borderline Pro Bowl level in 2022. But they finally relented and shifted him to right tackle in late October, and he’s been very good there, as well, save for one rough outing against Khalil Mack. Onwenu earned himself some money last Thursday by limiting Steelers superstar T.J. Watt. His proven ability to play tackle and guard will make him pricier to retain, but do the Patriots really want to be looking for new starters at both tackle spots this offseason?

ST Matthew Slater
Slater recently said he’s “very close to the end” of his wildly successful, Hall of Fame-caliber career, so retirement is the most likely path for the longtime special teams captain.

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LB Josh Uche
Uche appeared to be headed for a big-time payday when he racked up 11 1/2 sacks during his breakout 2022 season. But he couldn’t replicate those numbers in his contract year, entering Week 15 with just two sacks, four QB hits and eight tackles on the season. The advanced metrics are kinder to the 25-year-old Michigan project, however, and teams are willing to pay up for pass rushers. Uche’s best offer likely won’t come from the Patriots, with whom he never developed into anything more than a situational player.

LB Mack Wilson
Wilson was relegated to special teams duty for the final five games of the 2022 season, but he’s been a surprise standout in 2023. Athletic and versatile, he’s carved out a niche in New England’s linebacking corps and made a handful of impact plays in recent weeks. Belichick recently called Wilson’s season “outstanding.”

Featured image via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images