The New England Patriots two most important impending free agents are corner Aqib Talib and wide receiver Julian Edelman, as both players were the best at their respective, crucial positions among players on the team. Although the Patriots met with Talib’s agent at the Combine to start talking about a new deal, the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reports that the Patriots still haven’t spoken with Edelman about a new contract. In fact, it doesn’t even seem like they’ve contacted anyone besides Talib about a new deal, so their slow approach is an interesting one.
Edelman was the team’s most productive wide receiver last season, and it really wasn’t even close. He was always one to watch for closely going into the 2013 season after looking like a faster, much-improved player in 2012 before breaking his foot. But I don’t think even the most bullish prognosticator could have predicted Edelman hauling in 105 passes for over 1,000 yards and six TDs, and he helped keep Tom Brady and the passing offense afloat with injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. It was the first season in which Edelman was fully healthy and frequently used, and he certainly made it pay off by being a reliable target and showing great chemistry with Brady.
Due to the uncertainty at the position and the reliability of Edelman, keeping him should be just as much of a priority as keeping Talib. The Patriots need to do what they can to keep both players, as they also wouldn’t want to lose their top CB. That said, the Patriots have limited cap space to work with, so we’ll see how things move forward.
Steve Gregory looked like a likely cap casualty before the 2013 season, but the disappointing play of the other safeties on the roster in training camp (aside from the elite Devin McCourty) ensured that Gregory’s spot would remain safe. After an awful first season in New England in which he missed a high amount of tackles and was frequently exposed as a liability in coverage, Gregory turned a corner in 2013 and was a very solid player. That is, until he injured his thumb and his play regressed. Gregory does a nice job defending the run and is an adequate starting strong safety in-the-box, but he’s also subpar in coverage.
Per a league source close to Volin, Gregory is worried that he will be released by the Patriots, as the team is looking to clear out as much cap space as possible in order to keep key players. The 31-year-old Syracuse product is set to make $3.683 million in the final year of his contract in 2014, and even that might be too rich for the Patriots, especially if they are high on Tavon Wilson and/or Duron Harmon.