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Agent: No deal yet between Patriots and Brandon Browner

03.13.14 at 11:53 pm ET
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An odd free agent period got a little stranger late Thursday night when cornerback Brandon Browner had an agreement in place with the Patriots … and then, apparently didn’t have one.

After a Thursday visit with the Patriots, it was reported Thursday night by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Browner had agreed to a two-year deal with the Patriots. (The news also prompted his teammates — like Richard Sherman — to reach out with congratulations.)


Then, multiple reports came down that no such agreement was in place.


That prompted Pro Football Talk to reach out to Schaffer, who angrily denounced the idea that an agreement was in place.

“It’s 100 percent untrue,” he said. “I’ve got four teams to negotiate with. I’ve got irresponsible journalists who don’t check their facts putting this stuff out there, and my phone is blowing up when I’m trying to play hockey.

“I’ve got very little patience for irresponsible journalists who put this stuff out and ruin my night,” added Schaffer, who plays in an adult hockey league in Colorado. “My phone is going nuts. I just wanna play hockey.”

All of this doesn’t mean that a deal won’t eventually get done — there are a lot of things at play here when you’re talking about a deal like this one, particularly considering the fact that the logistics of Browner’s four-game suspension and how it might relate to a new contract have to be worked out.

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Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Brandon Browner, Peter Schaffer,

Julian Edelman set to make first free agent visit with 49ers

03.13.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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Julian Edelman will take his first official free agent visit Friday when he visits the Niners.

The wide receiver, who caught a team-high 105 passes last year for the Patriots (to go along with 1,056 yards and six touchdowns, all of which were career-highs), has reportedly turned down a three-year offer from the Patriots. He’s also reportedly being recruited to the Browns by quarterback Brian Hoyer, a former New England teammate.

The 5-foot-10, 198-pounder is a former college quarterback who made the switch to receiver after New England took him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. The 27-year-old has played five years in the league, all with New England, and has 174 career receptions to go along with 1,770 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Without Vince Wilfork, what’s next step for Patriots?

03.13.14 at 3:49 pm ET
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The news Thursday afternoon that Vince Wilfork has asked for his release was shocking, but not all that surprising.

In today’€™s NFL, it’€™s all about financial flexibility — the Patriots were able to create some room to go after Darrelle Revis earlier this week, and if the early reports are to be believed, Wilfork balked at the possibility of re-doing his deal, and that created a essential disconnect between the player (coming off a season-ending Achilles’ injury) and team. Providing the team goes through with Wilfork’s request, New England would be off the hook for the $11.6 million cap hit, and would save roughly $7.5 million in cap space.

The 32-year-old Wilfork occupies a unique spot in franchise history. He’€™s not the face of the franchise — like Tom Brady — but has been a bridge from the Super Bowl team of a decade ago. (If Wilfork was indeed cut, Brady would be the last player left on the roster from the Super Bowl XXXIX championship team.) He’€™s not only a borderline Hall of Famer, but he’€™s had a huge impact when it comes to leadership. In most locker rooms, the offensive guys listen to the offensive guys, the defensive guys listen to the defensive guys, and there’€™s very little crossover. Like Kevin Faulk and Junior Seau before him, Wilfork has been one of a handful of players on the New England roster have been able to garner the sort of respect on both sides of the ball — when he speaks, everyone listens. (From a leadership standpoint, more will fall to Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Devin McCourty and the rest of the defensive veterans to try and lead the team into 2014 and beyond.)

If you’€™re an optimist, you can point to the fact that the Patriots learned to play without Wilfork this season, as the injury limited him to four games. As a result, on the current roster, the Patriots have a handful of young defensive linemen who were able to gain quality snaps last year while Wilfork was on the shelf. Chris Jones and Joe Vellano distinguished themselves early, but appeared to slow down the stretch, perhaps hitting the dreaded rookie wall. Youngster Marcus Forston also remains a possibility, and in addition, Sealver Siliga played well late in the year and into the postseason. However, it would probably be asking a lot of them to step up in 2014 and take on the kind of responsibility that Wilfork had, at least from an on-field standpoint.

There are also two other players on the roster who could emerge as key figures in the post-Wilfork era: Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead. Kelly was a bit of a surprise last year, playing well before going down with a knee injury early in the year. He was a high-character locker room presence who relished the idea of finally getting a chance to play for a winner. While he’€™s balked at playing nose tackle in the past (he’€™s probably a little light to play the traditional NT role), he will likely figure into the mix at defensive tackle in a four-man front. The other name is Armond Armstead — the former CFL star sat out the entire 2013 season because of health issues, and while he has yet to stay on the field consistently, could be an intriguing part of the defensive puzzle for 2014.

In terms of other options, the Patriots could fill the void via free agency, or in the draft. There are a handful of possibilities out there in free agency, but few versatile defensive linemen who have experience playing multiple spots in a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive front, particularly nose tackles. That group might include (but is not limited to) B.J. Raji and Terrence Cody. For what it’s worth, there are several versatile defensive linemen in this year’s draft, including Louis Nix III from Notre Dame, Aaron Donald from Pitt and Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota.

But in the end, replacing Wilfork will represent a challenge. He was no longer the overly dominant player he was a few years ago, but his smarts, versatility, durability and all around knowledge of the system made him one of the fundamental elements of New England’€™s success over the last 10 years. And even with the acquisition of cornerback Darrelle Revis, it’€™s important to remember the words spoken by Belichick shortly after Wilfork went down with a season-ending Achilles’€™ injury.

“€œYou just don’€™t replace Vince Wilfork,”€ said Belichick on Oct. 2, shortly after Wilfork went down for the season. “œIt’€™s a big loss, but we’€™re just going to have to find a way to do it. That means everybody doing their job. Obviously somebody is going to have to replace him and whoever those people are, they’€™re going to have to answer the bell. But collectively as a team, we’€™re all going to have to pull together. There’€™s no one person that can replace Vince Wilfork.”

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Report: Vince Wilfork has asked for release from Patriots

03.13.14 at 2:32 pm ET
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Vince Wilfork has asked the Patriots to be released, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

The veteran defensive lineman, who has spent the last 10 seasons with the Patriots, is coming off an Achilles injury that left him on injured reserve for the bulk of the 2013 season. It’s believed that the 32-year-old Wilfork, a five-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro, has been asked to take a pay cut — he was set to count $11.6 million against the cap in 2014.

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Stevan Ridley: Darrelle Revis ‘can lock down one side of the field for us’

03.13.14 at 1:37 pm ET
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Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was on NFL AM on the “NFL Network” Thursday morning, and talked about the departure of Aqib Talib, the acquisition of Darrelle Revis, as well as his own future.

On how much better cornerback Darrelle Revis makes the Patriots: “€œI think he does what [Aqib] Talib did for us. Talib is an awesome player and to let him go for the betterment of him and his family, he had a big offer on the table. He had to take it. But coach [Bill] Belichick always comes through, he always has a backup plan and to pick up Darrelle Revis, that was one of the only corners I heard about coming up as a kid and watching football. He’€™s been around a long time and he knows what he’€™s doing. I think he can lock down one side of the field for us and do everything that we need him to do as a player. So to come in on a one-year deal, he’€™s going to have to earn it but I think he’€™s done that year after year. We’€™re going to be OK.”

On if he expects a rematch of the AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and the Broncos with all of the free agent moves Denver has made so far: “€œI can’€™t get too far ahead of myself. It’€™s going to take some work to get there but of course Denver is making major moves; they’€™ve signed some big names and made some great additions to their team, with Talib first. But for us, we’€™re going to have to play to get there. Once we get there, we know what we’€™re matched up against. They had a spectacular defense at the end of the year last year and they didn’€™t make any mistakes by picking up a few free agents to add to their dominance that helped them get to the Super Bowl.”
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Darrelle Revis, LeGarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley

Free agent thoughts on Julian Edelman, Steve Smith, Brandon Browner, Jared Allen, Emmanuel Sanders

03.13.14 at 12:59 pm ET
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1. Julian Edelman‘s future could be tied to what happens with Steve Smith

The veteran Smith, who was just released Thursday morning, enters an interesting market, particularly as it relates to Edelman. There is some positional redundancy when you’re talking about Smith and Edelman, in that they are both primarily slot receivers who also have the positional versatility to line up outside. In addition, both are undersized, tough-as-nails competitors who have shown an ability to make really tough catches over the middle. The rest of their comparative resumes is a wash, at least as far as what they could draw financially: While Edelman had better numbers in 2013, is younger and has significant special teams value, Smith has shown a demonstrable ability to put up consistently good numbers over the course of a very good career, while Edelman played 16 games for the first time in 2013. (If we’re talking strictly about the length of the contract, Edelman is probably a slightly better long-term investment.) If the Ravens do go hard after Smith, that could likely take the Ravens out of the Edelman Sweepstakes. While Edelman has other options — multiple reports indicate that old friend Brian Hoyer is lobbying hard for Edelman to sign with the Browns, while the Bengals remain a possibility — the market is starting to thin out for his services. All of this doesn’t even take into account the fact that before he was released, he reportedly gave the Panthers a list of teams he’d viewed as potential trade partners: New England, Dallas, San Diego, Baltimore and Tampa Bay. When it comes to slot receivers, it’s a dynamic, fluid market at this point.

2. Brandon Browner is an intriguing possibility

According to our friend Mark Ockerbloom, the Patriots have a visit with Browner lined up for Thursday. The 29-year-old Browner, who has played the last three seasons with the Seahawks, is a 6-foot-4, 221-pound undrafted corner out of Oregon State who became a key part of the Seattle secondary over the last few years, picking off six passes in 2011. He still has to serve a four-game ban for violating the league rules on performance enhancers, but the Patriots have never been shy about going after guys like that in the past. Browner has a really intriguing skill set in that he’s a bigger corner who might be able to transition to strong safety in the New England defensive system. He played some safety when he first came into the league (before making a name for himself in the CFL), so that possibility does exist. Regardless, Browner has a visit scheduled with the Redskins for later Thursday.

3. Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Allen are still out there

Sanders, who was a potential target of the Patriots last year as a restricted free agent, figured to draw some interest this time around from New England. But to this point, the SMU product has been publicly linked to the Jags and Bucs and not the Patriots. The versatile, speedy Sanders also could be sitting down with the Dolphins in hopes of completing the Florida portion of his free agent tour. As for Allen, he appears to be one of the losers at this stage of free agency, as the defensive end saw the money that was initially earmarked for him in Denver go to Demarcus Ware. Something that could be holding up Allen’s situation is the idea that the 31-year-old could be transitioning into the next phase of his career, going from an every-down defensive end to a situational pass rusher. Of course, when that happens, you’re probably not going to get as much as you would if you were still an every-down defender. If he is able to make that move — instead of threatening to retire, as he’s already said — then the Patriots could possibly utilize him in much the same way that New England used Andre Carter in 2011 and 2013.

Read More: 2014 nfl free agency, Brandon Browner, Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Allen

Darrelle Revis contract details starting to emerge

03.13.14 at 12:46 pm ET
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The contract information for Darrelle Revis has started to leak out, and here are the reported details.

On the surface, the deal appears to be a two-year, $32 million contract. Multiple reports indicate that Revis has a $10 million signing bonus for 2014, as well as a $1.5 million base salary and a series of per game bonuses that — if he plays most or all of the season — should put him at $12 million.

Pro Football Talk reports that the Patriots have until April 1, 2015, to pick up the option on the second year of the deal. If New England does that, it would be a $12 million roster bonus. That would be in addition to a $7.5 million base salary, as well as a series of those same per-game bonuses that would put the eventual price tag in the $20 million range for 2015.

One positive is that the Patriots can get some cap relief in 2014 by spreading the original signing bonus out over the two years, which likely will mean that Revis will count for just $6.5 million against the cap this year, that according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. The flip side to that is that as it stands right now, the bill for 2015 could be sizable, particularly if New England doesn’t pick up the option — the dead money could be as much as a reported $5 million.

In short, it appears to be a very good deal for the Patriots for 2014, as they’ll get one of the best corners in the league on incredibly short money when compared to the other top-level corners who were on the market this year — the cap hit is $7 million. But it likely will necessitate both sides revisiting the deal at the end of the 2014 season.

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