Which Patriots free agent should be the team's top priority heading into 2014?
Jason: An argument could be made for Talib, but after watching him hobble off the field for the eleven thousandth time on Sunday, I'd just as soon let him walk. Edelman is the easy choice simply because you can count on him to be out there. I really don't think he gets enough credit for what he brings to the offense. Lots of folks seem to chalk his production up to replacing Welker in New England's system, but Edelman is dynamic with the ball in his hands. If they can keep him for Welker money, they absolutely need to pull the trigger.
Raj: Julian Edelman for sure. The chemistry between him and Brady has been excellent. He's turning into one of the best receivers in the league and definitely Brady's most trusted receiver. I think he's a priority player. Many pats fans will say they should sign Aqib Talib. But I think there are better CBs in the market and in the draft. Talib is great don't get me wrong, but the dude cannot play through pain. And if he asks for a contract, it's going to be a ridiculous longterm contract because his ego will not agree to a 2 year contract. That being said, getting Edelman back should be the most important signing on the agenda.
Rick: The top free agent that the Patriots need to bring back is Julian Edelman. With Rob Gronkowski’s health in doubt for the 2014 season, Tom Brady needs to have a wide receiver he actually feels comfortable throwing the ball to. Edelman has done everything and beyond for the Patriots in the past, including playing cornerback during that trip to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. If the Patriots do address the receiver position in free agency, Edelman could be a slot wide receiver and be very effective in that role. Plus, he is a very good punt returner, so you would lose a key piece on both the offense and special teams. Talib is a close second, but it’s rather uneasy to give him big money with all the hip problems he has had and a team like the Washington Redskins will probably outbid New England for his services.
Derek: Bringing back Julian Edelman would be a huge boost for the team, but I think with a healthy Gronk and Amendola, some development from the rookies, and a free-agent signing, the Patriots' offensive production should be ok. I'm more worried about the seive that our defensive secondary seems to become every time Aqib Talib leaves the field. There's a night and day difference in the Patriots defenes when he's there or not. People forget that from 2011-2012 our secondary was a joke until Belichick made the trade for Talib. This season, the secondary was actually the strength of the defense. Sure, Talib wasn't there for the team during the past two AFC title games due to injury, but it's not like Edelman has been the picture of health himself. 2013 was the aberrant season where he actually made it through the year healthy.