NEW YORK -- Which free agents would Robert Kraft like to see the Patriots retain? All of them.
Asked Friday at the Super Bowl his feelings about pending free agents Julian Edelman and Aqib Talib, the Patriots owner didn’t dabble in anything that would make waves.
“I definitely want [Edelman] back,” Kraft explained. “He’s an outstanding young man. We hope he wants to be back, and once again, it’s about two sides coming together. He really came into his own this year, and what he did in returning punts, what he did on the field was tremendous. I really hope he’ll return with us.”
As for Talib, Kraft said, “He’s been a great young man in the locker room and fun to be with. He’s really been a great team player and the camaraderie has been terrific. He’s a fun guy. I would very much [want to re-sign him]. I really would. Look what happened in the [AFC Championship] 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, and he really made a great contribution.”
Kraft annually cites that these deals are about “two sides coming together.” In the cases of Talib, Edelman and LeGarrette Blount, each is at a critical juncture in his career. They are in their prime and coming off excellent years. Their values will never be higher.
One supposes the Krafts don’t subscribe to a “buy-high” philosophy with their other businesses, though. And with the injury issues that both Edelman and Talib have had, one can expect the Patriots to try and protect themselves. Especially in light of the fact that fat deals with Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola have unfolded in fairly poor fashion since they were all signed.
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Kraft was asked about urgency to make sure Tom Brady has a high level of talent around him as he enters the late stages of his career, similar to Peyton Manning’s situation in Denver.
“It’s about team-building,” he said. “I don’t know if people fully understood with the advent of the salary cap the importance of the bottom third of the roster. If you look at what happened to us this year, we had three starting defensive linemen who are undrafted free agents. I think how you manage the bottom of your roster is critical to the development. It’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback. With what happened this year and the fact we got to the championship game was a pretty remarkable feat and we’re always looking to improve the team on both sides of the ball.”
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In Roger Goodell’s press conference just prior to Kraft’s confab, the commissioner signaled that an expanded playoff format was being seriously considered.
“It’s really unbelievable; this year is the first time in a long time that the two teams seeded number one are playing in the Super Bowl, and that’s something,” said Kraft, noting that the team that ends up on top isn’t necessarily the one with the best regular season. “Probably it’s a good thing to do and it will make the end of the season still on a numbers basis, more competitive games and every game will mean more.”
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Goodell awkwardly softshoed around a question during his press conference about whether he would approach a Native American and address him as a “redskin.”
Goodell ran and hid behind some poll numbers.
I asked Kraft the same question since Goodell’s answer was so weak.
“All I know is (the nickname) started in Boston and they moved from Boston to Washington,” said Kraft, distancing himself. “I think especially in today’s world we want to be careful not to be knowingly disrespectful of anyone but this issue is way beyond the homework that I’ve done. I probably ought to stick to my . . . I’m not going to discuss it.”