Bill Belichick is on the golf course this weekend, no surprise as coaches and front office members usually take some time off before gearing up for the combine in two weeks. So where does that leave the Pats with their key free agents? Belichick said it can take 4-6 weeks to evaluate those decisions, and they’ve got exclusive negotiating rights until free agency opens March 11. There’s still plenty of time to formulate a plan, and things will continue to develop at the combine when coaches and personnel gurus conveniently bump into agents at restaurants or coat closets in hotels. That’s when each side will bounce numbers off one another as they prepare for formal negotiations. Here is where the Patriots likely stand with their five starters who are a month away from the open market: AQIB TALIB Position: Cornerback Age by Week 1 of 2014 season: 28 Experience: Six seasons (11⁄2 with Pats) Key Stats: 4 interceptions, 13 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery in 2013. Pats’ plan: If it’s anything like last year, the Pats will offer Talib a team-friendly, long-term deal to see if he’ll bite. He won’t. They’ll want him for three years because teams don’t like to extend players past 30, but expect them to hit $7 million per season to shave off a fourth year. That plan would hurt their hope to include injury incentives based on games played, though it’s possible a snap-count incentive could trigger a fourth year in the deal. Talib’s plan: Talib banked on himself with the one-year deal and looked like a genius before his Week 6 injury. He’ll want four years on the open market and is expected to be loyal to the money, though he said he does want to return to the Pats.
What’s at play with key Patriots free agents
Boston Herald | Feb 7