By Tom E. Curran
Fred Taylor believes he's got two more seasons of NFL football in him. During a conversation with Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union, Taylor said he's not sure if he wants to retire or not. Honestly, it's not going to entirely be his decision. It may not even be 50 percent his decision. Consider the economics players are about to face. The owners' final CBA proposal before the lockout featured a 2011 salary cap that was scaled back from 128 million in 2009 to just 114 million. Then consider what a player like Taylor is accustomed to making great cash - he was paid 3.55 million in salary in 2010-11 combined, all for a total of 106 carries. And he made close to 2 million in guaranteed money. When all is said and done, the 2011 salary cap will almost certainly go down. Given the choice between paying aninjury-plagued, 33-year-olda seven-figure salary or some promising young kid who'll toil for less than 500,000, teams are likely going to err on the side of the bargain. So Taylor's going to have to prepare himself for a serious haircut, one so drastic he may wonder what the heck he's playing for.It's a shamewedidn't get a chance to experience Taylor's salad daysas one of the NFL's most explosive backs here in New England. His performances would have put him in front of a mike, where his perceptiveness and ability to talk about the nuances of his profession made him an exceptional interview. Taylor had high praise for the Patriots organization - "The last two years I've had a great experience of being in New England, being with a great organization and learning what tradition is all about"- butadded that there were times in the past two seasons where he felt he was good to go but never got the call. "Ifelt like when things weren't getting done that maybe I could've been the one in there," he said. "And that's every player. If you don't feel that itch, that desire, that passion of wanting to be out there, then you're just wasting your time. There were moments I definitely said, 'Well I'm not tired, I've recovered, I got my wind back, why ain't I in the game?' I do understand in order to be successful you have to be fresh. I just figured it all out."
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
FOXBORO -- The Patriots didn't release third-year center Bryan Stork, though they informed him they would do so early on Wednesday. Instead, they traded him to the Washington Redskins.
The deal was announced on Wednesday afternoon. In return for the former fourth-round pick out of Florida State, the Patriots received a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick from Washington.
Stork is reportedly mulling retirement. If he does not report to the Redskins, and the conditions of the deal are not met, the Patriots would not receive compensation.
The seventh-round pick would provide the Patriots with a seventh-rounder in 2017 that they didn't have when the day began. The team traded its original seventh-rounder to the Lions last season in exchange for tight end Michael Williams.
(The Patriots could, in theory, receive a seventh-rounder from the Lions since they received a conditional seventh in a trade for linebacker Jonathan Bostic, who was sent to Detroit in May. But because Bostic is recovering from foot surgery, the conditions of that trade may prevent the pick from ever making its way to New England.)
The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but before that move was processed, the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal.
Stork has had difficulty staying healthy as a pro, his emotions sometimes got the best of him on the field, and teammate David Andrews had beaten him for the starting center role with the Patriots. Still, Stork's teammate and friend Jimmy Garoppolo said it was tough to see Stork move on.
Despite the question marks that accompany Stork's arrival in Washington -- that is, if he decides to report -- the Redskins were more than willing to pay the modest price to acquire him. They are desperate for help at the center position.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a welcome face back on the practice field on Wednesday, as tight end Rob Gronkowski returned to action after missing the team's previous five practices as he dealt with an injury.
Gronkowski participated in the warmup period of practice and then remained with the majority of his teammates for drills.
The last time Gronkowski was spotted on the field was last Monday, which was the first of three joint practices between the Patriots and the Bears. He pulled up after pursuing a Tom Brady pass, walked along the sideline, met with head trainer Jim Whalen, and then left practice early. He did not suit up for Thursday's game against Chicago.
Gronkowski has not participated in a preseason game since 2012.
Patriots not spotted at Wednesday's practice were Shaq Mason, Jonathan Cooper, Sebastian Vollmer (on the physically unable to perform list) and Dion Lewis (also on PUP). Alan Branch, who has been suspended by the team before last week's preseason game, was also missing.
Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell, Shea McClellin, Tre' Jackson (PUP) and Danny Amendola (PUP) were present for warmups but went to a lower field for conditioning. Amendola and Jackson were not in pads for the short-and-shells session.
Jon Bon Jovi was taking in the session alongside Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.
Michael Felger wants no part of Josh Gordon-to-the-Patriots, no matter the price.