Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. With Brandon Lloyd aboard, that should officially put an end to any speculation about the Patriots pursuing restricted free agent Mike Wallace (Steelers). The Patriots are often unpredictable in their approach, but giving up a first-round draft pick and a big contract for a player like Wallace just didn’t seem like them.
2. Defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene, the Patriots' first free-agent target, was in his native Samoa at the start of free agency so he hasn’t yet visited Gillette Stadium. He is due in town late Monday night. Once he takes a physical, and assuming there are no issues, that’s when the three-year contract should become official. One leftover note on Fanene: His best playing weight has been at 290. When he bulked up to 300, that’s when he ran into some injury issues.
3. If I had to guess whether the Wes Welker/Patriots/franchise tag “standoff” will be longer or shorter, I’d lean toward longer now. We've been down that road before.
4. Five days of free agency and none of the top running backs have signed. Part of that is tied to some of the best ones either getting the franchise tag (Matt Forte, Ray Rice) or an extension (Marshawn Lynch). Teams also seem more careful about paying too much at the position, which could ultimately lead BenJarvus Green-Ellis back to New England if he doesn’t get what he’s seeking on the market. The door remains open.
5. While running backs have found it challenging to generate a market, business for backup quarterbacks is as strong as ever – Chad Henne (Jaguars), Jason Campbell (Bears) and Kyle Orton (Cowboys) all signing multi-million dollar pacts. The 2011 season was a good reminder that teams which fail to have an adequate backup pay the price and for some, like the Colts, it can dramatically reshape the future of the franchise.
6. Looking back at why the Patriots might have had Raiders defensive end Trevor Scott on their free-agent radar: When the Patriots beat the Raiders 49-26 back on Dec. 14, 2008, Scott was pretty impressive with five tackles and two sacks of Matt Cassel. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn that was the starting point of the Patriots’ interest.
7. If Peyton Manning signs with the Broncos, would the Patriots be a top candidate to trade for Tim Tebow? That was a question ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton posed on ESPN Radio on Saturday, and it makes you think.
8. It didn’t escape notice that Mackenzy Bernadeau, the Waltham, Mass., native who played at Bentley, was a first-day free-agent signing with the Cowboys. New Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan obviously sees something there in the former Division II star. Congratulations to Bernadeau, who inked a reported four-year, $11 million deal.
9. Looking back, I think the Packers made the right decision not to assign the franchise tag to quarterback Matt Flynn. That could have been disastrous – tagging him, tying up the salary cap, and then realizing only two teams (Seattle, Miami) were mildly interested.
10. Free-agent safety LaRon Landry's next stop is the Jets. He visited the Patriots on Saturday. Like the Patriots, the Jets have been looking closely at safeties, meeting with Reggie Nelson (Bengals) already. Landry's initial plan was to take all of his free-agent visits before signing and the Patriots were his first stop.
11. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and "Celebrities for Charity" are holding a raffle in which the winner and a guest joins Gronkowski in a private luxury suite at the Boston Bruins' April 7th game vs. the Buffalo Sabres. Link here for more information.