Ed Reed Once Again Attractive Option for Patriots, But Safety Won’t End Up in New England

Ed ReedEd Reed is up for grabs. Let the rumors swirl. 

About eight months after signing a three-year, $15 million pact, the Houston Texans waived Reed, letting him play out the rest of the season elsewhere. As much as the attraction might be there, don’t expect Reed’s final destination to be New England.

There’s no denying the undying love affair between Reed and the Patriots. Bill Belichick has practically done everything but popped the question to Reed over the years. Tom Brady has a deep infatuation with him, too, even mentioning Reed unsolicited when talking about “elite playmakers” during his press conference on Tuesday — a subtle nudge to the front office, maybe? Reed has returned the kind words, too, offering high praise for Belichick, Brady and the Patriots organization as a whole throughout his 12-year career. That doesn’t mean he’ll wind up rocking the Flying Elvis on his helmet, though.

The Patriots are in a precarious situation on defense. They’ve already lost two of their defensive captains, Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Jerod Mayo (pectoral), for the season and are banged up in the secondary, too, with the health of Aqib Talib (thigh) and Steve Gregory (thumb) still uncertain going forward. Those factors alone should be cause enough to stir up some juicy Reed-to-New England rumors, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be any better on the field than the depth they already have in the secondary.

Reed missed the first three games of the season in Houston while recovering from offseason labrum surgery, and he managed to start just five of the seven games he played for the Texans. Even when he was on the field, he wasn’t all that effective. Reed, who has averaged close to 60 tackles and four interceptions per season throughout his career, recorded just 16 tackles and had yet to pick off a pass in his seven games with the Texans. It was as if the health problems and older age (35) had reformed the eight-time All-Pro into a different player.

Maybe the Patriots do still maintain some interest in adding Reed, if only for his veteran leadership and sparse on-field production, but he’s still subject to the NFL waiver system. That means the 28 teams below the Patriots in the league standings, including teams like New Orleans and Indianapolis, who showed interest in Reed during free agency, would be awarded the safety’s rights before New England. Even with $412,000 (about $62,500 per game) left on his 2013 salary, it’s unlikely that 28 teams would bypass Reed without putting a claim in.

Even without Talib over the last few weeks and young guys like safety Duron Harmon and cornerback Logan Ryan being forced into more action, the Patriots’ defense has sustained well. They still rank 12th in the NFL against the pass and are seventh in scoring defense through nine games, putting them in a better position defensively now than they have been in the second half of any recent season. That’s not to say Reed couldn’t help improve that unit both on the field and in the locker room, but his impact might not be enough to justify his compensation.

There’s no doubting the inherent attraction between Reed and the Patriots. And maybe in some other time or situation, a marriage would work. But right now, it’s just not a likely fit.

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