Over the last two months or so, it has been widely suspected that the longest tenured current Patriot, running back Kevin Faulk, would retire. Speaking at a community event at the Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island, Faulk told reporters that he was "planning on coming back to play." ESPN Boston's Mike Rodak has the full details of Faulk's appearance. Here are a couple of nuggets from Faulk:
"I am training to come back to play, but it's not up to me. It's up to the team and everything, but I am planning on coming back to play, so we'll see what happens."
"It took me awhile to make a decision. But I felt like I needed this time. I've been playing professional football for a very long time. To have that opportunity, to be able to play again, I wanted to give myself that time to think about, and I thought about it, and I knew where my heart is, and it's always been there."
Faulk also added that the only team he would return for would be the Patriots.
Obviously, with Faulk being an unrestricted free agent, the ball is now in New England's court when it comes to Faulk's return to the team. I think the team will bring him back - at least for a training camp invite. Having been in the NFL with the Patriots since 1999, he is extremely valuable to have around as a teacher and mentor for the team's young backs . Currently, the team has halfbacks Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen under contract. They also recently added fullbacks Tony Fiammetta and Spencer Larsen. If the Patriots only keep one of the two fullbacks and they don't add a running back early in the draft, there is definitely still potential for Faulk to return. Although he will be 36 in 2012 and had his production slowed significantly in 2011, keep in mind that by this September, Faulk will be two full years removed from his ACL injury.