Patriots Rumors: Fact or Fiction with the Latest News Ahead of Free Agency

James ChristensenContributor IMarch 3, 2014

Patriots Rumors: Fact or Fiction with the Latest News Ahead of Free Agency

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    Julian Edelman's situation is only the tip of the iceberg.
    Julian Edelman's situation is only the tip of the iceberg.Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    As the free-agency hot stove heats up, kernels of New England Patriots rumors start popping out of the pan and into the wild. Wide receivers, cornerbacks and defensive linemen will be getting a lot of attention as the oil heats up these next few days.

    It is time to separate the old maids from the pieces that deserve some butter and salt—or some sriracha if you're into that sort of thing. Whether these rumors turn out to be fact or fiction, it will be an interesting show to watch.

Aqib Talib a Priority for New England?

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    After Aqib Talib signed a one-year deal prior to the 2013 season, everyone knew that the New England Patriots would have a a hard decision on whether to sign the talented, but troubled, corner at the end of the year.

    Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald first reported on Talib's initial talks with New England at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine:

    After weeks of silence, one of the Patriots’ first moves involves priority free agent cornerback Aqib Talib. The two sides are set to meet in Indianapolis to continue negotiations, though it’s unclear if the first round of contract proposals will be exchanged, according to a source.

    Talib is scheduled to hit the open market March 11, but the Pats have exclusive signing power until then.

     

    Verdict: Fact

    The Patriots defense is infinitely better with Talib in the lineup. If you move Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan up a notch—exactly what happened in the AFC Championship Game—their performances start to suffer.

    Signing Talib won't be cheap—his new deal could average well over the $5 million he was paid last year—but he is a much better option than signing a different free agent or trying to draft a shutdown corner.

Darrelle Revis on His Way to New England?

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    What is the backup plan if the New England Patriots can't re-sign Talib? According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis might be the answer to that question.

    There’s a theory in league circles that, this time around, other teams want Revis more than his current team wants to trade him. [...]

    For New England, paying Revis a $1.5 million roster bonus, a $1.5 million workout bonus, and a $13 million base salary could be a much more desirable alternative than giving a big-money, multi-year deal to Aqib Talib.  

    Thanks to Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots would be taking a huge risk by making a big investment in another player with a history of off-field trouble. With the market for Talib believed to be more robust this year than last, the Pats likely won’t be able to pull off another one-year, $5 million can-kicking contract.

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    While Revis would give the Patriots defense a lot of options, the ability to stomach $16 million for one player—he would be due $14.5 million each year thereafter—doesn't look to be in the cards. There is also the problem of sending the Buccaneers trade compensation.

    This deal might make sense if you're playing a video game, but it doesn't pass the smell test in real life.

Danny Amendola on His Way Out?

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Danny Amendola didn't have the impact—only 54 catches—in his first season with Tom Brady that many fans expected. According to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report, the New England Patriots might be thinking of cutting bait already.

    NFL teams say the name of Danny Amendola has been floated in trade talks. The Patriots signed the wide receiver to a five-year, $28.5 million contract last offseason, but Amendola struggled to stay healthy and did not have the kind of impact the team envisioned him having.

    Amendola caught 54 passes for 633 yards with Tom Brady throwing to him. He had two better seasons when he played in St. Louis with Sam Bradford throwing to him. There has been speculation the Patriots could cut Amendola if a deal cannot be worked out.

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    The upside to cutting Amendola is nearly nonexistent. While doing so would trim Amendola's cap figure in 2014, according to Miguel Benzan of PatsFans.com, the Patriots would have to replace his production with another player who—unless it was a draft pick—would almost certainly cost more than the $2.88 million they would save.

    Trading Amendola would be even worse, as the 2014 cap room would actually decrease by $645,000. The Patriots would also be liable for paying his replacement.

    Before his groin injury, Amendola was Brady's most trusted target. If he can regain his health in 2014, there is no reason that he can't have a season on par with Julian Edelman's 2013 campaign.

Red Bryant an Option on the Defensive Line?

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Red Bryant was released by the Seattle Seahawks on February 28, allowing the talented and versatile defensive lineman to hit the open market. According to Chris Price of WEEI, the Patriots might want to get into the mix:

    Bryant is a veteran body in the middle — the 6-foot-5, 328-pound veteran has played multiple spots as a pro, lining up both at defensive tackle and defensive end, and has made a name as one of the more underrated linemen in the league.

    As a result, it was no surprise New England really went hard after him when he was a free agent in 2012. (He ultimately ended up signing a five-year, $35 million contract with $14.5 million guaranteed with the Seahawks, and won a ring for his efforts.) But his experience with the Patriots left a lasting impression on him

     

    Verdict: Fact

    Adding Bryant would allow the Patriots added flexibility to run both odd and even fronts. Bryant can play on the nose, as a 3-technique tackle or a 5-technique end. Unless his contract demands are unreasonable, New England will certainly make a second run at signing him.

    Even if the Patriots fail to land Bryant—again—his release could have an effect. If the Kansas City Chiefs are able to lure him to Arrowhead Stadium, Chiefs' defensive lineman Tyson Jackson might be a nice consolation prize for New England. They aren't the same type of player, but both have some inside/outside versatility that the Patriots covet.

Sidney Rice Potential Target for Patriots?

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Seattle receiver Sidney Rice didn't have much time to savor his team's Super Bowl victory, as he was released on February 28. 

    Ben Volin of the Boston Globe floated Rice's name as a potential target for New England. "A few veterans under contract could become free agents soon as potential salary-cap casualties, many of whom could be of interest to the Patriots, including receiver Sidney Rice..."

     

    Verdict: Fiction

    The Patriots have a young group of receivers, including second-year players Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Amendola. Adding another veteran to the group might stunt the growth of players that have already had one season under their belts in the system.

    If New England is going to sign a veteran receiver, they'll likely keep things in house and re-sign Julian Edelman. He knows the system and gives the Patriots a special teams presence that Rice doesn't bring to the table.