The sides have had open lines of communication up to this point.
Edelman, who is coming off a career-high 105-catch campaign, enters his sixth NFL season in 2014. The Patriots would like him to return, and Edelman has expressed a desire to as well, but the sides haven't been able to find a middle ground on a contract.
As for the Patriots' possible contingency plan, one free agent to keep an eye on is Emmanuel Sanders. The Patriots signed him to a restricted free-agent offer sheet last year, but the Steelers matched it.
Sanders is an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team as of 4 p.m. ET.