Patriots face tough calls on Talib, Blount, Edelman
Talib’s annual hip issues are a concern going forward but not enough to trump the fact he’s a true shutdown corner who – at the age of 27 – has good years remaining. He’s been here more than a year and hasn’t done anything stupid. He made more than $5 million this year in salary and bonuses. He’s probably going to require at least something in the neighborhood of four years and $20M with more than half guaranteed. By way of comparison, former Ravens corner Cary Williams went to the Eagles as a free agent last season and was given a three-year, $17M deal with $10M guaranteed. Williams is not as good as Talib.
This is a tough one for the Patriots. Edelman had no market last offseason and came back to the team for short money ($765,000). He’s 27. He’s never made heavy money. This is his one legitimate shot to help solidify his financial future. The dynamic in New England is this: the Patriots are already spending $5M a year on a slot/inside receiver named Danny Amendola.
Based on 2013, Edelman is more valuable than Amendola not just as a target for Tom Brady but as a punt returner. Given the cap hit the Pats would take, Amendola’s not going anywhere. The Patriots could ask him to take a haircut, though. Or they could figure that Edelman and Amendola are just different enough so as not to be redundant employees.
So then what’s the asking price for Edelman’s camp – he’s represented by the same folks who represent Brady, Don Yee and Steve Dubin. The market for inside/slot receivers is far different from wide receivers as Wes Welker learned. Edelman has to go to the open market hoping to make $5M a year, same as Amendola. Imagine if the Broncos don’t pick up the option on Wes Welker for 2014 and the $8M cap hit that accompanies it and make a run at Edelman? Then Welker could return to the Patriots. Theoretically. Stranger things have happened.
Blount, like Talib and Edelman, has not become a rich man in the NFL relative to his peers. He’s rehabbed his image and showcased his ability. He took a big pay cut and earned less than $700K this season. Between Blount, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley the Patriots spent less than $2M in salary to those valued running backs in 2013. Like Edelman and Talib, Blount is also 27 and he is smart enough to know his earning window is going to close quickly. With Ridley and Vereen both free agents after the 2014 season, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Patriots decide.
Terrific run-stopper. Inspirational leader. Tough. But he’s a two-down linebacker. And – as much as his teammates love him – four seasons of Spikes’ quirkiness may prove to be enough for the Patriots patience. He’s been described by analysts as the best run-stopping linebacker in the league. When he’s allowed to sprint forward, guess which hole a back is going to and guesses right, he sure is. But he’s got minimal lateral range and is a complete disaster in pass coverage. Replaceable.
The 27-year-old center didn’t have a terrific season but he’s steady and likely affordable and should be able to be retained without a lot of sweat.
His role this season seemed to grow by necessity, not by choice. He’s a good guy to have around in that he understands the demands, plays special teams, is good in coverage and can make some plays. He’s a role player in New England. If he desires more than that, he’ll need to go elsewhere, it seems.
A decent blocker. An OK receiver with excellent hands but minimal ability to separate. A good locker room guy who’s smart and reliable. Probably not going anywhere.
Utility lineman. Played well enough when asked to step into different roles along the line. Not irreplaceable but probably worth keeping to avoid going through the orientation process again.