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New England Patriots Rundown: Aqib Talib and Wes Welker

News and thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs number one pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and New England Patriots players Aqib Talib, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Alfonzo Dennard were used in this New England Patriots Rundown piece.

1. Impending free agent cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the New England Patriots three biggest priorities this offseason, but the thing is the Patriots will most likely have to de-prioritize one of Talib, Wes Welker, or Sebastian Vollmer. Recently ranked the fourth-best impending free agent by Rotoworld’s Evan Silva, poll voters on this site believe Talib is narrowly the team’s offseason priority over star slot receiver Wes Welker.

Talib is speculated to command $8-10 million per season (CSNNE), and it would cost about $10.7 million to franchise him. Even though he changed his act while with the New England Patriots this past season, Talib’s checkered past and work ethic questions that cropped up this year (see link above) have the Patriots reluctant to give Talib a multi-year deal.

Here is what defensive leader Jerod Mayo said to The Boston Herald about Aqib Talib, “He’s a great player, and I like to say he’s a football guy. He enjoys going out there each and every day and I hope we have him back. But that’s a question you have to ask coach (Bill) Belichick. That’s one of those personnel decisions that I don’t make.”

Mayo also praised impending free agent safety Ed Reed, who is ranked in Silva’s top 40 impending free agents.

2. Tony Santorsa of NE Patriots Draft examines the options in the impending free agency of Wes Welker, and he agrees with Mike Reiss’s preferred two-year, $16 million deal that he gave in a mailbag response on ESPN Boston. Tavon Austin is my preferred “replacement” for Welker in the first round of the draft if no deal can be made, and Santorsa names Austin and another interesting name in Duke’s steady Conner Vernon.

3. Rob Gronkowski was named the sixth-most like player in a poll conducted by Nielsen (Rant Sports), and two Green Bay Packers made the top five in Aaron Rodgers and the now-retired Donald Driver. You know who else made that list? Peyton Manning. It’s rare to see a Patriots player well-liked by all fans, but that’s exactly what Gronk is. Gotta love Gronk. The piece notes that Tom Brady did not make the list, but that’s entirely obvious. Really no non-Patriots fan likes Brady, and that’s the way it should be, right?

4. New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard won the team’s “Hippie Award” for Rookie of the Year. In fact, if you break down the numbers (if you have a PFF subscription), you’ll see that Dennard was significantly better than Talib in 2012. Dennard is going to be one of the game’s best ten cornerbacks (or 15, that’s still really good) with his terrific man coverage skills, physicality at the line of scrimmage, and above-average impact in run defense. As for Chandler Jones, he probably would have won the award if he was healthy for the entire season.

5. The NFL Network’s top draft scout Daniel Jeremiah thinks the Kansas City Chiefs won’t trade the No. 1 pick in the draft because they won’t be able to find a trade partner. I agree, and it sounds like the Chiefs will be taking either Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel (best available) or Geno Smith (need). It all depends on what happens to Branden Albert (and maybe even Alex Smith) before the draft, and I’m surprised more people aren’t making the Miami Dolphins-Atlanta Falcons connection over Jake Long and Matt Ryan. If I were the Chiefs organization, I would take Geno or a quarterback first. But then again, Ryan was more of a sure prospect than the quarterbacks in this draft class are.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Alfonzo Dennard Aqib Talib Geno Smith Jerod Mayo Kansas City Chiefs New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski Tavon Austin Wes Welker

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