The Patriots have finished the 2013 season. And they’ll have a trio of key players hitting the open market in March, barring new deals.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, running back LeGarrette Blount, and receiver Julian Edelman are each slated to become free agents.
Talib and Edelman both hit the market last year, and both re-signed with the Patriots. Talib inked for one year, $5 million, and Edelman signed a one-year minimum deal for a mere $715,000. Edelman later agreed to shift 80 percent of a $50,000 workout bonus to a roster bonus that hinged on Edelman making the opening-day roster.
The Pats may not be able to secure similar bargains in 2014 with Talib or Edelman. Talib has played very well and, more importantly, he has stayed out of trouble since coming to New England. Edelman has proven that he’s worth more than the veteran minimum.
Then there’s Blount. Though he was shut down on Sunday, gaining six yards on five carries, Blount’s 166-yard performance from the divisional round and his 189-yard game from Week 17 could prompt someone to offer him more than the kicker-level deal in the range of $3 million to $4 million over three or four years.
Other free agents include tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, linebacker Brandon Spikes, and defensive end Andre Carter.
On Monday, coach Bill Belichick didn’t shed much light on what the Patriots will do.
“You sort it all out,” Belichick told reporters. “You have the people who work on that in our organization. We’ll get together with them. We’ll get a sense of where we are, what some of the issues are going to be, what some of the options are going to be. We have some players that are not under contract. We have some degree of cap space. We have whatever degree of flexibility we have with other things, we have draft choices, we can make projections on what they’re going to cost and you start putting that all together. That’s one of the many moving parts that goes with the whole offseason process. I’d say we’re not there yet but that will certainly be a big part of the discussions at some point, particularly as it relates to free agency, not so much the draft. The draft will be the draft but there is a salary cap implication to the draft in terms of where you’re picking and what those costs will be.”
He said plenty of words, and the words made sense. As usual, however, no one will know what the Patriots are going to do until they do it.