- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Earlier Monday we wrote how Tom Brady’s cap-friendly contract extension helps the New England Patriots become bigger players in free agency. Brady’s three-year extension saves New England $8 million in cap room this offseason.
Thoughts: The pending free agent and future Hall of Famer is coming off a Super Bowl title with Baltimore. The Patriots’ pass defense was horrendous last year and the ball-hawking Reed could be just the right fit. Baltimore has salary-cap issues of its own with free-agent quarterback Joe Flacco, who has tremendous leverage and is looking to become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. The Ravens won’t have much money left after paying Flacco, making Reed a possibility.
2. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots
Thoughts: Yes, Vollmer is another in-house free agent. But anyone who does a good job protecting Brady is important to the Patriots. Former first-round pick Nate Solder has solidified the left side and re-signing Vollmer could solidify the right side. The only concern is Vollmer has suffered some injuries. Vollmer does a great job playing through pain, but that makes things a little murky when committing to a player long-term.
Thoughts: The Patriots like value finds in free agency, and Grimes could be one of those players. Grimes was ascending to a top-level corner two years ago until a severe knee injury derailed his 2012 season. Grimes is rehabbing to get back to form, but the injury risk makes for a reasonable asking price. Grimes could be an affordable option if Aqib Talib’s asking price is too high.
4. Receiver Julian Edelman, Patriots
Thoughts: Edelman is another free agent New England would like to keep. He is dynamic on special teams and making strides as a slot receiver. He was viewed as the heir apparent to Welker before getting injured. The Patriots also could have their eye on West Virginia slot receiver Tavon Austin. But a fantastic combine most likely pushed Austin’s stock out of reach for New England at pick No. 29. Welker and Edelman in the slot next season may have to work.