Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and the Patriots:
1. Based on activity last week, it looks like the Patriots’ front office will have a similar structure in 2010 as it did last season. Floyd Reese will continue to be the point person for contracts, while Nick Caserio will handle more of the personnel duties.
2. Although the free-agent crop will be thinned by an uncapped season – with more than 200 players being kept off the open market – a significant number of cuts are expected around the league as teams won’t face salary cap implications in dropping high-priced players.
3. Center Dan Koppen is scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.9 million in 2010. If Patriots management deems that a bit rich, the first indication will come in mid-to-late March when Koppen is due a $500,000 roster bonus.
4. The Eagles’ hiring of Dick Jauron (senior assistant/defensive backs) and Bobby April (special teams) seemed like shrewd moves. Jauron in New England was an intriguing thought.
5. On Feb. 11, teams can start assigning the franchise tag to players. If it comes to that with the Patriots and Vince Wilfork, my feeling is that the tag wouldn’t be assigned until the last possible day (Feb. 25). It makes sense to think the sides will get back to the negotiating table in the coming weeks to try to hammer out a long-term deal, and I don't think it's out of the question that momentum could build toward that happening.
6. I’m curious to see if the Raiders will assign the franchise tag to Richard Seymour. If they don’t, they would have traded a 2011 first-round draft choice for a one-year rental who produced four sacks.
7. Wide receiver Deion Branch is scheduled to earn $5.4 million and some wonder if he could be on the outs in Seattle. If I’m the Patriots, that’s one name I continue to stay on top of as a possible addition.
8. The Bills' plans to switch to a 3-4 defense will make the AFC East a division with four teams playing that alignment. No other division in football has four 3-4 clubs.
9. There seems to be a growing perception that the Patriots don’t spend on players. Tom Curran, who covers the Patriots for Comcast SportsNet, presented this counter-point: Since 2005, the Patriots spent $540 million on player salaries, while the Colts spent just less than $546 million and the Jets $542 million.
10. In the end, I can’t pick against Peyton Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. I almost switched to the Saints because of Dwight Freeney’s ankle injury, but I’ll go Colts 34, Saints 24.