Patriots-based free agency chatter

March, 9, 2013
3/09/13
4:25
PM ET
A few notes and thoughts on the first day of the “legal tampering period” of free agency:

1. Brady still a draw around the NFL. With the Steelers and outside linebacker James Harrison parting ways, Harrison told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he didn’t have a preference on which team he signed with before adding, “Of course it would be nice to play with Tom Brady. I mean who wouldn't want to. … Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, anybody would want to play with them...” The opinion from here is that it would be a longshot to see Harrison land in New England.

2. Edelman and the Browns? Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer cited a tweet from Lane Adkins, who writes for Scout.com, noting that the Browns have been in touch with representatives for Patriots receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman, among others. If the Browns have legitimate interest – and it’s important to point out that being in touch with representatives doesn’t necessary mean anything concrete – it could be a homecoming of sorts for Edelman, who played at Kent State. The idea here is to tread lightly with this type of information, while also pointing out the obvious connection between first-year Browns general manager Michael Lombardi and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It’s not a stretch to say they view players through a similar lens and Lombardi’s son is also on the Patriots’ coaching staff.

3. Patriots linked to Browns' Cribbs. After reading a tweet from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that mentioned the Patriots among the teams interested in dynamic returner Josh Cribbs (Browns), two thoughts came to mind: The Patriots' kickoff return game needs a boost, and the club would have a nice bit of intel with Brian Daboll now on their coaching staff. Daboll was the Browns' offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010, so he knows Cribbs. It's naturally difficult to know what level of interest the Patriots have, if any, but this is one possibility we could see making sense.

4. Boldin’s status bears watching. There have been some interesting developments with the Ravens, who have reportedly told receiver Anquan Boldin that he’ll have to take a pay cut or he’ll be cut. Boldin -- who has since denied the team has asked him to restructure -- had previously said that he’d play for the Ravens or retire. With the Patriots’ potential revamping of the receiver position, and Wes Welker’s status still uncertain, this is one we’ll be watching closely. Boldin in a Patriots uniform? What might have been considered a far-fetched thought a few weeks ago could be back in play.

5. What to make of Wallace ‘interest.’ Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald threw a Patriots-based firecracker of sorts when he wrote on his blog, “An NFL agent which I trust but does not represent [receiver Mike] Wallace told me early Saturday that he has it on good authority the New England Patriots are one of the teams showing some interest in the prospective Pittsburgh Steelers free agent.” The view from here is that the Patriots wouldn’t be in the market for Wallace because of the projected price tag (perhaps $10 million per season), but it makes sense to think they’re at least exploring the possibility to get a better feel for the market. That’s what a big part of the legal tampering period seems to be for a team like the Patriots, a chance to assess prices and tweak strategies accordingly.

6. One safety option off the market. For those monitoring the safety market, it was notable that the Falcons reached a five-year agreement with William Moore, as first reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Moore wasn’t one of our projected top targets for the Patriots, but he was considered one of the best safeties available. That thins the market a bit, but there are still quality options available. When a player like Adrian Wilson pops on to the market, it's worth exploring.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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