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Patriots.com News Blitz - 07/24/2012
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that defensive tackle Kyle Love officially re-signed with the Patriots by signing his tender as an exclusive rights free agent for the league minimum of $540,000. Howe notes that Love will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason and has yet to reach an extension deal with the Patriots. “If the two sides reach an extension, it would likely work off the idea that he’d receive a second-round restricted tender next year, which is worth about $1.9 million in guaranteed money,” writes Howe.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com sees several positions where the Patriots could use the two remaining open spots on their 90-man roster, including offensive tackle and guard, tight end, wide receiver, and defensive line. Reiss notes that tight end is an especially thin position with Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells starting the year on the active/PUP list, leaving “rookie Tyler Urban as the only backup behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez." Reiss also points out that the club has 10 receivers on its roster compared to 13 last season, and that there is definitely room for an extra body on the outside.
Jeff Howe also writes that wide receivers Deion Branch and Jabbar Gaffney will have to compete for reps at outside receiver opposite top target Brandon Lloyd. “The Patriots have been searching for a viable, complementary outside option for several years,” writes Howe, who believes that Branch and Gaffney are also a valuable “fail-safe” for Lloyd. Howe notes that the two veterans both have strong chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady. “Brady has always been confident in Branch’s on-field awareness,” notes Howe, while Gaffney “emerged when the receiving corps was in shambles in 2006.”
Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com predicts a heated positional battle at defensive end, where five players may be battling for just two spots. In the mix for Yates are Jonathan Fanene, Trevor Scott, Rob Ninkovich, and rookies Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette. “Scott, Ninkovich and Fanene are all proven veteran players, with Scott and Fanene in particular having experience at the end position,” writes Yates. “Jones adds an element of dynamic athleticism, while Bequette was praised in some pre-draft scouting reports for his polish.” Yates adds that the group has a solid blend of “toughness, explosion and capable run defenders and pass rushers.”