The New England Patriots continue to sort through their free agents before the official offseason begins March 11. The team has plenty of players to make a decision on before that while also deciding on which players to make a run at in free agency. With the offense taking priority in 2014, the wide receiving corps could see the most changes next season.
The wide receiving corps for the Patriots severally under-performed in 2013. The lone bright spot came in Julian Edelman who put up 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. The wide receiver worked off an extreme discount after the Patriots signed him to a minimum $1 million deal last offseason. Re-signing the receiver should be a priority for New England, but the team is prepared for him to walk away in free agency despite Tom Brady requesting his return.
"I know how difficult a task it is for our team to make decisions like this, and we've had to make a lot of tough decisions over the years,'' Brady said, via the Boston Herald. ''All those things sort themselves out. Coach Belichick is the one that makes all those tough decisions. I love (Edelman), he's one of my best pals, I spent a lot of time with him. I'm just proud of him for everything that he's accomplished. He deserves the best."
According to Christopher Price of WEEI.com, the Patriots are expecting Edelman to exit in free agency. New England is expecting to be outbid for the wide receiver as multiple teams have become interested in acquiring. However, Price reports the backup plan is Emmanuel Sanders of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to NFL.com, Sanders and the Steelers are preparing to part ways in the offseason. The wide receiver put up career high numbers this season with 740 yards and six touchdowns, but Pittsburgh does not believe he did enough to fill the spot of departed Mike Wallace. already preparing for the free agent market, the Patriots intend to make a run on him sooner rather than later.
New England has had interest in Sanders in the past. The team signed him to an offer sheet, but was matched by the Steelers last season. That interest is still very high. The Patriots will not wait around for Edelman forever and if they feel he is gone, Sanders is signed.
The Patriots could have some more salary cap space to work with if Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount depart in the offseason, meaning the Patriots could make a run at one more receiver before next season. Nate Burleson is officially available after being released by the Detroit Lions. The Patriots are toying with releasing Danny Amendola and could grab Burleson for cheap to round out their receiving corps.