1. When it comes to dissecting the intricacies of the salary cap, Brian McIntyre has been an invaluable resource at this address, and so it was no surprise that he was the first to note this week that because he hit 80 percent playing time in each of the last four seasons, safety Devin McCourty will get a sizable bump in base salary for the 2014 season.

According to NFLPA documents, McCourty’€™s base salary went from $920,000 to $3,920,000 as a result of his playing time — according to McIntyre, McCourty’€™s cap number is now $5.115 million. That will affect the Patriots team-building process this offseason — however, the impact could be mollified with a new deal for McCourty, one we hinted at here. It would seem to make sense for both sides, as the defensive back is entering the final year of a deal he signed as a rookie, while it stands to reason that the Patriots would like to retain McCourty for as long as they can.

While Aqib Talib is probably the most talented defensive back on the roster, McCourty is the acknowledged leader of the secondary — his ball skills and work as a leader make him one of the most important players on the roster. While there are certainly other important contractual decisions for the franchise to deal with this offseason, McCourty is a key figure the Patriots need to retain going forward. A new contract now would make a lot of sense.

2. The news Saturday night that Nick Caserio would be sticking with the Patriots — despite a brief flirtation with the Dolphins — was interesting on a number of levels: One, the people around the league who I have spoken with suggest that while Caserio is highly regarded, he’€™s something of a blank slate.

No one really knows that much about him. As a result, taking the chance to interview was likely an opportunity for him to expand his horizons a bit and allow some other folks around the league to get a real feel for him and his management style if he did decide to one day leave the Patriots. Two, he turned down a chance to interview for a similar position with the Colts in 2012, saying he was happy to stick around Foxboro. (Was the Miami gig a better job? More money? More leeway with ownership?) And three, it would have been an interesting career move for someone who has been so close to Bill Belichick over the years to even consider jumping directly to a divisional rival.

The only time that’€™s happened (at least to my knowledge) was when Eric Mangini jumped to become the head coach of the Jets at the end of the 2005 season, and we all know how that turned out. For what it’€™s worth, the people who he’€™s worked with would certainly appear to endorse Caserio as a possible GM one day. I asked Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, who worked with Caserio briefly in New England, as Caserio a possible GM candidate, and he was enthusiastic in his praise for his old friend. ‘€œNick Caserio’€™s a fine man,’€ Dimitroff said. ‘€œHe’€™s a very intelligent guy.

He’€™s a tireless worker. I don’€™t know who works harder than him in the National Football League. He’€™s won many hats in New England, Bill’€™s asked him to do quite a bit, not only on the personnel side, but on the coaching side. You talk about a well-rounded individual. I hope coach Belichick isn’€™t upset with me that I’€™m pitching Nick Caserio, but I think Nick is a top-notch personnel man.’€

3. Caserio was among three candidates to meet with the Dolphins for a second interview Saturday. Miami also interviewed Tampa Bay director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and Tennessee vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.

It would appear that assistant GM Brian Gaine was the fourth finalist — he had a second interview with Miami management on Friday. From this viewpoint, Gaine would make an excellent choice. The former University of Maine tight end is considered one of the rising young personnel stars in the NFL.

He’€™s worked his way up from scout, having made his bones across the league with the Jets and Cowboys before landing in Miami. He was hired by the Dolphins as its assistant director of player personnel in 2008 and was promoted to director in 2011 before getting the assistant GM appointment in June 2012.

4. The retirement of Dante Scarnecchia after 30 years with the Patriots brought back a flood of memories for many local football writers. His occasionally off-color language and extra sprints after practice in the heat of training camp were his calling cards, not to mention the fact that he allowed several offensive linemen who arrived in Foxboro as relatively anonymous free agents to find riches elsewhere after Scarnecchia had coached them up for a few years, a group that included Russ Hochstein, Tom Ashworth and Donald Thomas.

For all the amazing offensive numbers the Patriots had put up over the last seven seasons, the offensive line — and Scarnecchia’€™s greatness as a coach — was a big reason why. From this viewpoint, the best interaction I had with Scarnecchia was at media day for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. I wanted to do a story on New England’€™s offensive line, and after a little sleuthing, I found Scarnecchia literally hiding behind Bill Belichick‘€™s podium, talking only with ESPN’€™s Chris Mortensen.

After waiting out the one-on-one, I spoke with him on my own for roughly 20 minutes. It was an education in some of the intricacies of offensive line play from someone who had forgotten more about the game than I’€™ll ever know. (He was also gracious enough to provide me with a breaking story, telling be straight-out that right tackle Sebastian Vollmer — who was questionable coming into the game with back and foot issues — was going to play in the big game against the Giants. I’€™ll always be grateful for that.) Scarnecchia was a football lifer, an individual who gave himself to the game and expected very little in return.

I’€™m lucky enough to be one of a handful of reporters who get to nominate the finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame, and even though a candidate usually has to go through a waiting period before they’€™re nominated by our group, it would seem to make sense that if there’€™s one individual who should be an exemption to that rule, it’€™s Scarnecchia. (For more on Scarnecchia, check out the excellent interview the fellas from D&C did with him late last week.)