Yesterday Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported that running back Shane Vereen is looking for at least $5 million a year, and while he adds Vereen likely won’t get that much, the fact that he is looking for it signals he will test free agency in a few weeks.
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"Vereen is hopeful to land a contract worth at least $5 million per season, according to a source. Now, that’s obviously a sign of a player who wants to start high with his negotiations with the realization that the price will drop throughout the back-and-forth with his suitors, but the desire to get paid means he’ll almost certainly hit the open market March 10 for the beginning of free agency.Vereen and the Patriots exchanged proposals last summer, according to the source, but they weren’t close enough to strike a deal. It’s unclear how much — if any — progress they have made this week in Indianapolis."
This tells me two things: First, Vereen understands his value is at an all-time high, and he is (understandably) looking to cash in. Secondly, if he does in fact want that kind of money, there is no way in hell he will be back in Foxboro next season. I love the kid, and I think he is a valuable asset, but the Pats have a system for how they deal with running backs, and it won’t change this year.
Basically, the Pats know running backs are easily replaced in this league, so they will set a price, and if that particluar back wants more money, he is gone. The most recent example of this is Danny Woodhead, who bolted for more money to San Diego. I think the same exact scenario will unfold with Vereen, and New England will be completely fine with that.
The cycle is unbeatable: Faulk leaves, Woodhead produces. Woodhead leaves, Vereen produces. Now Vereen may leave, and I promise the Patriots will have someone lined up ready to go in his place. There were people that thought the Pats wouldn’t be able to recover from Faulk leaving, and Belichick and company proved them wrong. There were even more people that didn’t want Woodhead to leave, and the Patriots proved them wrong. Now, there are probably even more people that don’t want Vereen to go, and I guarantee they will be proven wrong as well.
Don’t get me wrong, if Vereen actually wants to settle for less money, I would love him back in New England. He is excellent in the passing game, extremely shifty in the open field, and is great in pass protection. But Bill Belichick is the best in the business in finding value for his football team, and he knows running backs are replaceable. Vereen was awesome for this team, and I can’t blame him if he wants to go get his money.
Neither will the Pats.