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Patriots opt to bide their time

No big name is brought in so far

BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS Two teams interested? BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS Two teams interested?
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / March 14, 2012
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It was the start of a new year - a new league year - for the National Football League Tuesday, with the day’s most significant event the start of free agency.

While some of the more predictable teams rushed out to sign, and in some cases, overpay, players they’d set their sights on (hello, Redskins), other teams either couldn’t spend a lot of money or were content to watch the market unfold.

The Patriots didn’t sign any of the big-name players who officially became available at 4 p.m., though multiple league sources reported New England was expected to make a run at Seahawks defensive lineman Red Bryant, a 6-foot-4-inch, 325-pounder who can play end and tackle.

But the Seahawks weren’t ready to part with Bryant, who started all 16 games last season for the first time in his four-year career. Byrant agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal to stay in Seattle. He will earn $14.5 million guaranteed.

The Patriots could pursue Kendall Langford, who has been with the Dolphins for the last four years, as another option on the defensive line.

Of the 532 players who became free agents, 16 were with the Patriots last year. None of them were immediately scooped up by other clubs, though there was a report from Yahoo! Sports that there were two “unknown’’ teams in the market for running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis but that New England wanted him back.

However, the Yahoo! report also said that Green-Ellis could get $3-4 million per year, and it is difficult to see New England giving the former undrafted rookie that much.

The Patriots did make a couple of minor moves, tendering their only restricted free agent, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, at the second-round level. This year, the second-round tender amount is $1.927 million.

However, another team could sign Hoyer to an offer sheet, which the Patriots would have an opportunity to match. But if Hoyer went to a new team, that team would relinquish a second-round draft pick.

Teams have until 11:59 p.m. April 20 to submit offer sheets.

A team that loses out on the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes and doesn’t want to pay for Green Bay’s Matt Flynn could find Hoyer an appealing option; since signing as an undrafted rookie in 2009, Hoyer has blossomed with the Patriots and the team believes he’s ready to become a starter.

But it also is smart for New England to hold onto the 26-year old - if Tom Brady were to get injured, Hoyer should be able to step right in. Teams only need look at Indianapolis last year to see how valuable it is to have a solid backup.

The Patriots also tendered exclusive-rights free agent Kyle Love, which was essentially a formality.

As outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, the defensive tackle, who opened eyes in his second season, will receive a $540,000 base salary for 2012.

It’s possible Love and New England could come to a short, multiyear agreement. When Gary Guyton and Kyle Arrington were ERFAs, each signed two-year, team-friendly deals. Love is represented by the same agents as Guyton and Arrington.

And one Patriot apparently never hit free agency: according to NFL Players’ Association records, linebacker/special teamer Niko Koutouvides was signed to a one-year deal with a base salary of $825,000 for the coming year.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung; Greg A. Bedard of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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