Dan Koppen Now Likely to Return to New England Patriots?

Aaron Dodge@Aaron_DodgeAnalyst IApril 7, 2012

DENVER - OCTOBER 11:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots directs the offense as center Dan Koppen #67 prepares to snap the ball as the offensive line readies for pass protection against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 11, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Patriots 20-17 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

New England Patriots fans and journalists alike may have fallen victim to the Bill Belichick-imposed gag order that the franchise employs on it's intent. 

It now appears possible, if not likely, that longtime center Dan Koppen, a fifth-round selection of the team in 2003, will re-sign. All signs to to this stage have pointed to the opposite happening, but things may have changed.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston provided one unknown piece of info earlier in the week:

Before free agency began, the Patriots had discussed a contract with Koppen. With [Dan] Connolly now in the fold, it is unclear if the team still has the same level of interest, or how it affects Koppen's mindset in returning to New England. 

Apparently, it hasn't disqualified the Patriots from contention, as Koppen failed to come to terms with the Tennessee Titans when he visited the franchise for a workout:

No deal is imminent with #Patriots center Dan Koppen, who visited #Titans on Wednesday. Good visit, now sides will weigh options

— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) April 4, 2012

The wording Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean chose is curious because it suggests Koppen has some choices to make. The Titans are certainly on the lookout for a starting center, but they have also spoken to just about every free agent available at the position. 

Koppen, on the other hand, hasn't reportedly spoken with or visited any other teams. In fact, New England would be the only other franchise he's been reported to have contact with. So, if the 120-game starter is weighing his options, it's not hard to connect the dots here. Koppen very well may have an offer on the table from the Patriots and we just didn't know it. 

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Upon second look, the move does make sense.

Yes, the team just re-signed fellow center Dan Connolly to a three-year deal, but he's got guard versatility. Brian Waters hasn't made his intent known for the 2012 season, and New England may not be comfortable only riding with Robert Gallery while Logan Mankins recovers.

Signing Koppen to a sensible contract could allow New England the position versatility and proper insurance they need on the line. It's no lock yet, but the possibility is very much there. 

Quarterback Tom Brady certainly wouldn't mind:

"He's the best, and there's no one like him," Brady said of an injured Koppen at the time. "I think he and I have a great chemistry between the two of us. We always have, and he's one of my great friends. Hopefully he's back at some point."

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