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Patriots.com News Blitz - 7/16/2012

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Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that it is unlikely the Patriots will reach a deal with receiver Wes Welker before Monday's deadline. Reiss writes that a "Hail Mary remains possible," but as of Saturday the "expectation" is that the two sides will not finalize a deal. The club has until 4 pm on Monday to offer Welker a contract extension. If a deal is not reached, the receiver will play out the season under his franchise tag and become a free agent at the end of the year. According to Reiss, a source close to Welker added that "dialog between the sides wasn't overly active" and "it would be a surprise if an extension was reached."

James Walker of ESPN.com reports that Saints quarterback Drew Brees has surpassed quarterback Tom Brady in annual salary after signing a five-year $100 million contract with the Saints on Friday. Brees' annual salary is now $20 million per year, while Brady makes $18 million per year under his current contract. "Brady began the offseason as the highest-paid quarterback in annual salary until two guys named Brees and Peyton Manning began searching for new contracts," writes Walker. Manning also tops Brady in annual salary, making $19.2 million per year.

Glen Farley of the MetroWest Daily News believes that the Buffalo Bills will be the top threat to the Patriots in the AFC East this season. New England has won the AFC East nine of the last twelve seasons, but Farley writes that the Bills "seem to have enjoyed a solid offseason" and have the best shot at unseating the champs. The Bills signed defensive end Mario Williams and former Patriots defensive lineman Mark Anderson to major deals and also shored up their offensive line by selecting Cordy Glenn and Zebrie Sanders in this year's draft.

**Mike Rodak** of ESPNBoston.com writes that defensive back Sterling Moore's main competition will be with veteran Will Allen for a spot on the Patriots' 53-man roster. Moore had two interceptions in six games last season and made headlines with his game-saving pass deflection in the AFC Championship game. "Moore showed potential on the field last season, flashing strong coverage skills," writes Rodak. Although Allen and Patriots draft pick Alfonzo Dennard will push Moore, Rodak believes that Moore is "a player that the Patriots want to keep."

Mike Rodak also writes that, with Mark Anderson departing for the Bills and Andre Carter remaining a free agent heading into camp, defensive end Trevor Scott has a chance to make an impact as a disruptive pass rusher on the Patriots' roster. Scott played in all 16 games last season but only recorded seven total tackles. "If rookies Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette don't make an early impact, the team could be leaning on Scott and fellow veteran Rob Ninkovich as defensive ends in their 4-3 scheme," writes Rodak.

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