Edelman had a breakout year in 2013, with 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns, and was fourth in the NFL in punt return yards. Talib had four interceptions and made the Pro Bowl for the first time. The 27-year-olds are the most prominent impending free agents on the Patriots roster.
“I definitely want [Edelman] back,” the Patriots’ owner said Friday, after commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual pre-Super Bowl news conference. “He’s an outstanding young man. We hope he wants to be back. Once again it’s about two sides coming together.”
“Very much,” said Kraft, when asked if he wants Talib back. “Look what happened in the game in Denver when he went out, we see the impact he can have. And no matter how many weapons you have on offense, if you can’t stop the team on the other side, it doesn’t matter.”
Talib suffered a knee injury in the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos, in a collision with former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. Patriots coach Bill Belichick condemned Welker’s hit on Talib, calling it “one of the worst plays I’ve seen.”
Kraft declined to offer an opinion Friday. “I just was sorry to see Talib down,” Kraft said. “I’ll let you make judgments on that.”
The Patriots’ offseason personnel decisions will be based in part on whether they receive any salary-cap relief related to Aaron Hernandez, the former New England tight end charged with murder and currently awaiting trial.
Kraft offered no new details in terms of salary-cap relief. “We’re doing whatever we can to free up any money we can,” Kraft said. “My friend here [another reporter] has said we need some players on the offensive side. Other people say we need on the defensive side. We have a fellow like Matt Slater who is such an outstanding special-teams player, he’s a free agent coming up. So we have to balance a lot of things.”
In addition to the loss of Hernandez, the Patriots suffered several serious injuries this past season, yet still finished 12-4, won the AFC East and advanced to the conference championship game. Kraft called that “a pretty remarkable feat” on Friday and said Belichick did an “amazing” job.
“Our team really did function as a team this year, and I’m very proud of them,” Kraft said, “and I’m proud that the team’s so young, and I’m anxiously looking forward to next year.”
As for the Patriots possibly hosting a Super Bowl in the years ahead, Kraft sounded interested, but did not say he’ll definitely pursue it.
“Well, let’s see how this goes,” Kraft said, referring to the first Super Bowl played in wintry conditions. “[But] I’m a great supporter of playing this game in all elements. I think the most memorable games we’ve played up in Foxborough somehow have had either cold weather or snow associated with them.
“I’m a big supporter of the game here, and I compliment New York/New Jersey and what they’ve done.”