Now that Ed Reed’s a free agent, it’s got to be frustrating for head coach Bill Belichick that it may be happening just a bit too late for him to be a Patriot.

Chris Mortensen reported that New England was out of the running for his services Wednesday night, which if that’s true, it can only mean that it may be physical limitations keeping it from happening since we all know the admiration Belichick has for the free agent safety.


Steve Gregory’s injury opens the door for either Duron Harmon or Reed if Belichick decides to bring him in.
(USA TODAY Images)

Belichick has never pulled any punches on his praise for Reed, and he’s shown plenty of admiration and respect for him over the years.   Back in January he told the media, “He’s the best weak safety I’ve seen since I’ve been in the National Football League in my career. He’s outstanding at pretty much everything.” He further added, “The list goes on and on with him. It’s just a question of pretty much anything he’s out there for, he’s good at.”

Reed didn’t end up here during the offseason, likely due to the hefty three-year $15-million contract he ended up signing with the Texans.  At the time New England took their chances instead on signing free agent Adrian Wilson, but Wilson never made it out of camp and ended up on injured reserve.  That saw Steve Gregory, who had seemingly been on the bubble throughout camp, end up being one of the more pleasant surprises this season.   He’s been much better in coverage than he was during his first year in New England, and recently talked about the fact he’s more comfortable in his second season with the Patriots.  Up until his injury, Gregory and Devin McCourty have handled things pretty well. But now with the void the team has to make a decision.  Do they hand things over to rookie Duron Harmon?  Or do they bring in Reed?

Coming off of a hip injury, at his age, Reed’s obviously not the player he used to be.   While Reed may not have the closing speed he used to, his football instincts and experience are attributes that do hold value.  One thing past veterans have discussed is the fact this coaching staff does such a tremendous job in putting players in position to make plays, which if Reed is put in better position by the Patriots’ coaches to be around the football more, there’s a chance he could make an impact.  At this stage of his career he may not be a full-time safety, but he could be a good situational player until Gregory is able to get healthy again and would give them some additional depth.  They’re fortunate in that Gregory’s injury isn’t long-term, and if Reed can be had for the league minimum, it’s a low risk situation that finally gives Belichick the opportunity to work with the veteran.

If it doesn’t work out, Harmon has already shown promise having made an interception in each of his past two games.  Youth and speed is also something the team appears to also be focusing on, and both Harmon and rookie Logan Ryan have been great additions from that standpoint in what has been a much-improved secondary.

Belichick talked about that on Wednesday, and acknowledged that they’ve been better at not giving up big plays this season.

“I think they’ve all been productive,” Belichick said of his safeties.  ”Harmon has made a few plays on the ball, Devin, I think is having a real good year, Steve has been productive for us. I think that those guys have all worked hard, when they’ve been on the field they’ve all been solid contributors, and we’ve certainly had a lot less problems this year than we had last year, even the last couple of years, with balls getting thrown over our head in the middle of the field and things like that. We’ve made more plays on the ball back there, so that’s been a pretty solid part of our defense.”

Needless to say it’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds.  After all these years, Belichick has to be intrigued to have a chance to get Reed into his system.  The only question now is whether that opportunity has come a little too late.

BILLS NOT HAPPY ABOUT SCHEDULING BY THE LEAGUE:

The Buffalo Bills apparently aren’t happy with the way the scheduling has worked out for them this season and to a certain extent, it’s hard not to disagree.  The Bills have to face six teams this season that are coming off of a bye week or a long week (in other words, a team coming off of a Thursday night game), which is the most of any team in the NFL and they’re certainly not happy about it.  Bills CEO Russ Brandon told WGR 550 in Buffalo that the team has discussed this issue with the league.

“It is a very, very tough job in what they have in scheduling, in all the things that go into the formula and all the different stadium commitments and television schedules,” Brandon said. “But that is certainly something that needs to be addressed.”

The situation is a little excessive and if it was the same here in New England, it’s hard not to agree with their stance considering the level of preparation teams are receiving against them as a result.

GRONK COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU:

For any fans of the popular HBO Series “Entourage”, it appears that you may see a Patriot in the upcoming feature film.  According to TMZ, Rob Gronkowski will make an appearance in the movie, and will play himself.

He’s been a busy guy recently.  Between a new rap video that debuted on GronkNation.com, his recent women’s football clinic at Harvard Stadium and a Q & A in Foxboro the other night, he’s certainly managed to make some headlines.  Hopefully Monday night he’ll make a few on the field in Carolina as well.  They’re also reportedly set to begin filming in January, which, if all goes well, could mean they’ll have to wait for the veteran tight end, who hopefully will be helping his team make a postseason run.

ON TO THIS MORNING’S LINKS:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots have prepared for read option dating back to preseason – Erik Frenz – Frenz has a good article on the fact that thanks to Tim Tebow during the preseason, the Patriots got plenty of work in defending the read option as they get set for Carolina this weekend.

Report: Rob Gronkowski to play himself in ‘Entourage’ movie – Steve Silva – Silva has an entry this morning that mentions the fact that apparently Rob Gronkowski will appear in the upcoming “Entourage” movie.

Bill Belichick mum on Patriots’ interest in Ed Reed – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer has comments from head coach Bill Belichick, who as expected wouldn’t comment on Ed Reed’s release by the Texans.

Ed Reed’s skills have faded, but smarts would make him worth risk – Chad Finn – Finn has a column this morning on the fact he believes that despite his physical drop off, Reed’s football intelligence and experience would make him a good fit in Foxboro.

BOSTON HERALD:

Source says Pats in play for Ed Reed – Karen Guregian – Guregian files her notebook this morning, which leads off with her report that the Patriots are in the mix for the recently released safety after he cleared waivers.

Carolina Panthers hard to predict, defend – Mark Daniels – Daniels has an article which has quotes from several Patriots’ defensive players, including Kyle Arrington who says they’ll need, “All hands on deck this week,” against Carolina.

ESPN BOSTON:

Analysis: Could Ed Reed help the Pats? – Field Yates – Yields has a good read this morning evaluating Reed’s play so far this season.

WORCESTER TELEGRAM:

Patriots rookie Duron Harmon could replace Gregory  - Rich Garven – Garven looks at rookie Duron Harmon, who may see more time Monday night with Steve Gregory sidelined with a broken thumb.

ENTERPRISE NEWS:

PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK: Running back will soon be coming back – Glen Farley – Farley files his notebook this morning which leads off with the potential return of Shane Vereen.

BLEACHER REPORT:

Devin McCourty Developing into Premier NFL Safety – Erik Frenz – Good article this morning from Boston.com’s Erik Frenz, who has a great read on Devin McCourty’s ascent into becoming one of the league’s best safeties.