The New England Patriots spent the first afternoon of NFL free agency watching a pair of their most important players get away. Star quarterback Aqib Talib wasted no time signing with the Denver Broncos, and top wide receiver Julian Edelman — the favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady — became a free agent at 4 pm when last year’s Patriots team-leading pass-catcher rejected New England’s three-year contract offer.
The day was, as the Yogi Berra-ism has it, “deja vu all over again” for the New England Patriots and their fans. When the 2013 free agency season opened, wide receiver Wes Wekler who was then the go-to guy for Brady, immediately left the Patriots for the Denver Broncos where he teamed with Peyton Manning to take that team to the Super Bowl — defeating New England in the AFC Championship game.
Rumors that the Baltimore Ravens will now move in on Edelman have been circulating, with Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans also in the mix, though sources told The Boston Globe that Edelman has not ruled out a return to New England even as he entertains offers from other suitors around the league.
The hard-working Edelman appeared to post a breakthrough year for New England, recording 105 passes,1,056 yards and six touchdowns. But it seems Patriots Coach Bill Belichick wasn’t impressed.
If Edelman takes another offer, it has to leave Brady wondering what he needs to do to get his team to hold on to his favorite receivers, after losing Welker last year.
As for Talib, the only genuine top tier cornerback the Patriots had, there was very little question about his destination when Denver offered him a six-year $57 million deal, with $26 million of that sum in guaranteed pay.
More rumors have the Patriots making a deal for Tampa Bay Buccanneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, but if a trade deal isn’t worked out by Wednesday afternoon, Tampa Bay is expected to release Revis and as a free agent he could easily command a richer offer than Talib.
The Patriots still hope to keep Julian Edelman and New England, however, but this may be the 2009 seventh-round draft pick’s best and only chance of his career to score a major payday, so as the Boston Globe source told that paper, “it’s just business.”