Ten free minutes for me, 10 free NFL throwaway lines for you ...
1. It's easy to daydream about Ed Reed joining the Patriots ? he's Ed Reed! after all, and we've been doing it pretty much since he was passed up for Daniel Graham (a need and a solid player) in the 2002 draft. But is it crazy to suggest that the available former Ravens safety that the Patriots should be pursuing is actually Bernard Pollard? He keeps getting better and better -- he was essentially roster fodder in Kansas City and Houston before becoming a key cog in the Ravens' championship defense. His ferocious style, which does not need to be rehashed here, is something the Patriots desperately need in their defensive backfield. I'd like to see it happen, as weird as it would be.
2. Of course, it might be awkward to bring Pollard here after the carnage he's caused to the Patriots through the years. Though he's an introspective, articulate, likeable guy in person – I know, I know, you don't want to hear that – I think Chris Gasper hit it on the head when we were discussing it after Wednesday's "Boston Sports Live'' program. Bringing Pollard to the Patriots would be equal to Bill Laimbeer joining the Celtics in, say, 1991. Some fences are beyond repair.
3. So about Danny Amendola on the Day After. I probably haven't given him enough credit -- anyone who once had 15 catches in a game, as he did last year in Week 2 against the Redskins, has some legitimate ability, and he shouldn't be pigeonholed as just a slot guy. He'll be an asset, perhaps a very valuable one, provided two things happen: He avoids the same kind of freakish injuries similar to those that have gotten Jacoby Ellsbury slapped with an unfair injury-prone label. And he gets on the same page with Tom Brady instantly, which Welker did and few others have done.
4. I'm sure the Patriots will get the receiver depth chart straightened out and bolstered, whether it's by signing a couple of unsung Donnie Jones types or using a high pick on one of the several promising speedsters in this year's draft. And I'm not as down on Brandon Lloyd as the majority seems to be. But man, it's tough to look at that Denver roster right now, with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and now Welker, and not have some envy.
5. The interest in Joshua Cribbs and the news that Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington will visit Foxborough Thursday suggests that the Patriots are emphasizing greater production on kick returns in the coming season. Which is a welcome development. After watching the likes of Devin McCourty scramble to get to the 20 too many times last year, I was almost to the point of wishing they'd bring back Laurence Maroney or Bethel Johnson for the sole purpose of returning kicks.
6. Aaron Hernandez has the talent, the contract, and now, the responsibility. I can't recall the Patriots having a more versatile offensive player in my lifetime (Kevin Faulk or Andy Johnson may get some votes, I suppose), but with Welker gone, it's imperative that he remains healthy and becomes more reliable in big games.
7. If Mike Lombardi gives up anything higher than a fourth-round pick for Ryan Mallett, he'll be back on the NFL Network before he knows it.
8. Ultimately, Matt Cassel will be regarded as a bust in Kansas City, his 1-7 record as a starter during his final season the last and lasting memory of his time there. But it's more complicated than that – Cassel did have one outstanding season among his four, throwing for 3,116 yards and 27 touchdowns against just 7 interceptions in 2010 while winning 10 of his 15 starts. Don't know about you, but I'd welcome him back as Brady's backup.
9. I'll miss Welker in the same way I miss Troy Brown -- it's never fun to say goodbye to an incredibly productive, tough, dedicated, disciplined, bright player. Yes, he left for a rival, and a championship eluded him. But there were some pretty great times during his six seasons here, and he should always be remembered well.
10. As for today's Completely Random Football Card:
If you're a fan of the semi-annual, whenever-we-can-get-a-team-to-agree-to it "Hard Knocks" series on HBO, you may remember being introduced Amendola in 2008, when his attempt to make the Cowboys as a rookie free agent was one of the chief story lines. Like Welker with the Chargers, he didn't stick his first time and had to fight his way into the league.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.