The week ahead for Patriots and the NFL

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The week ahead for Patriots and the NFL

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Tuesday. Big day for the cellular telephone industry. But it starts tonight. "Post-lockout Player Procurement Panic 2011" has begun. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tweeted that all rookies, signed or unsigned, could begin negotiations with teams tonight, but could not be signed until 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. What does that mean for the Patriots? Well, chances are they're on the phone with first-rounder Nate Solder and all the other draftees right now, as well as undrafted players like Mark Herzlich. They can also start talking totheir ownfree agents who may be headed out of town, their own franchise players, restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents. That means Matt Light (free agent), Logan Mankins (franchise) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RFA) can be contacted. And the Patriotscan do the same with any and all free agents from other teams. Can't sign 'em yet. Have to wait until Friday at 6 p.m. to sign 'em. Thursday at 4 p.m., teams can start to waive players or terminate their contracts. Nick Kaczur, Bret Lockett and Tully Banta-Cain could be in danger. Banta-Cain's situation is interesting because, while he had his sports hernia during 2010, he eschewed the chance to have it fixed after the season then re-aggravated it during the lockout. Still trying to determine whether that's an injury that would preclude Banta-Cain from being cut without an injury settlement. By August 4, all teams have to be under the 2011 salary cap of 120.375 million. Top 51 salaries will count against cap beginning that day so August 3 could be a big day for bloodletting. A few points we're still trying to lock down are 1. when padded practices can begin; 2. when unsigned rookies must vacate team (allowed to report Tuesday it seems); 3. when media and fan access begins. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Bennett says he is 'just chilling' and hasn't given free agency 'a ton of thought'

Bennett says he is 'just chilling' and hasn't given free agency 'a ton of thought'

Will Martellus Bennett be back with the Patriots next season?

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says it's "a real possibility" Bennett leaves given the asking price and potential offers.

Less than an hour later, the unrestricted free agent sent out a tweet responding to speculation about his future.

Bennett, who will 30 years old in March, had seven touchdowns in 19 games in his first season with the New England Patriots. 

 

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.