Free agency is underway

The highly anticipated NFL free agent period has begun (4 p.m. ET) and here are a few thoughts based on conversations with agents and others around the NFL:

A big part of the Patriots' strategy with their own free agents seems to be to let the market dictate. The club has had discussions with player representatives, but according to a few of them, the team hasn't moved far, if at all, off their previous offers.

This looks like an indication that the Patriots project a "soft market." This is an approach that comes with some risk because all it takes is for one team to up the ante, and the Patriots could lose the chance to re-sign some of their key players. The benefit to the Patriots is that if prices come down, they can retain players at a cost more favorable to them.

Specific to personnel, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted shortly after 4 p.m. that the "Patriots are on top to land Browns [WR] Josh Cribbs right now, followed by Cardinals and 49ers."

We'll be following along closely on all Patriots free agent targets and reporting anything we find out.