Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes the Patriots should use the franchise tag on Aqib Talib this offseason. The Patriots' top cornerback will become a free agent on March 11 and would cost around $11 million to tag for the 2014 season.
"Talib is coming off an excellent season, and has elite measurables that allow the Patriots to be much more versatile on defense," writes Volin. "But his past is checkered enough that the Patriots shouldn't give him a $20 million signing bonus or a long-term contract that could come back to bite them in two or three years."
Nate Davis of USA TODAY Sports lists Patriots WR Julian Edelman and DE Rob Ninkovich as part USA TODAY Sports' 22nd All-Joe team, consisting of unsung heroes from the 2013 season.
On Edelman: "Wes Who? Edelman's 105 catches just about tripled his previous career-high (37) and ably replaced the production of the man Bill Belichick now refers to as "the receiver." Edelman also averaged 10.7 yards per punt return."
On Ninkovich: "Is he an end? A linebacker? We're not sure, we just know he's a do-it-all type with a fantastic beard."
Eric Galko of Sporting News shares his latest 2014 NFL Mock Draft. With the 30th overall pick in this year's draft, Galko has the Patriots selecting Notre Dame DT Luis Nix III.
"Vince Wilfork went down with an injury earlier this year for the Patriots, and they can't afford to bank on an injured Wilfork for the next four or five years, especially thanks to his impact on the defense. Nix reminds a lot of Wilfork, and he'll get a chance to learn from him for at least a year," writes Galko.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Patriots impending free agent LB Dane Fletcher "wouldn't mind" returning to the team next season.
"Yeah, at this point, it's kind of wherever life takes me," Fletcher said. "I definitely wouldn't mind it. This is a great place, great coaches, a great owner. I love playing here."
Nick Underhill of MassLive.com gives his free agent profile on Patriots LB Brandon Spikes.
"With a versatile group of linebackers already on the roster, there isn't a pressing need for a run-stuffing linebacker, especially as offenses become more reliant on the pass," writes Underhill. "And given the way the season ended for Spikes, it would be a mild surprise to see him back in New England."