With the 2012 NFL Combine coming to a close earlier today, free agency rumors around the league are beginning to heat up. Around this time, it's very easy to get legitimate rumor confused with speculation, so take all of the following with a grain of salt. That being said, recent reports are linking the Patriots to a number of top free agent possibilities.
First, Omar Kelly, who writes for the Dolphins for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, reports (or speculates) that if Vincent Jackson doesn't re-up with the San Diego Chargers, he could be headed for the Patriots:
I don't mean to scare Dolphins, Jets and Bills fans, but the word on the street is that if San Diego doesn't get WR Vincent Jackson locked up he's likely headed to a certain New England team. That's right....nail biting time.
Interesting. But there's no telling if the "word on the street" means Kelly has legitimate sources or not. Still, this looks like a situation worth monitoring as Jackson would certainly fit the role of the "deep threat" the Patriots could be looking for this offseason.
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne has been another receiver that has been linked to the Patriots in recent weeks. The sense is that there is a mutual interest between the Patriots and Wayne. On Saturday, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported that the Patriots would at or near the top of Wayne's wish list if he were to leave the Colts:
Well, we have it on good authority, if things don't work out with the Colts, which is the most likely scenario, the Patriots are definitely on the radar of the five-time Pro Bowl player. In fact, Peyton Manning's landing spot notwithstanding, the Pats could be at or near the top of Wayne's list.
The Patriots are also being connected to Texans free agent defensive end / outside linebacker Mario Williams. ESPN's Matt Williamson reports (or... speculates) that the Patriots could be an active player in the Mario Williams sweepstakes:
Jacksonville has a chance and New England will be really involved. Seattle is a good one, but I'm not sure exactly where Williams fits. The way they play their scheme, they have Chris Clemons as that 'Leo' guy, the tweener type, and the other end is like a Red Bryant, a big guy. But they clearly need more pass rush. Clemons is fine. Williams is really versatile and that is why he is a great fit in New England. They play so much 3-4. Seattle is a goofy scheme because they do not have two perimeter guys.
Again, take all of these rumors with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that multiple media outlets think that the Patriots could be active players for top free agents.