Bledsoe Back In Camp? It’s Just Posturing

Ian Logue
April 9, 2002 at 1:06 pm ET

Before the offseason began there was no doubt that a deal involving a trade with another team for quarterback Drew Bledsoe would be interesting.

Needless to say, so far it certainly has been.

From what appeared to be no interest from any team to possible interest from Cincinnati and now Buffalo, it appeared that the market for Bledsoe wasn’t exactly all that exciting.

To make matters worse he didn’t exactly help the situation after shooting down the first team that showed interest.

But Bledsoe appears to have seen the light after letting word leak that he had no interest in being traded to Cincinnati. It’s likely that following that incident his agent reminded him that if the nine-year veteran would like to find a team to play for next season, it will require the Patriots receiving compensation that would give them reason to let him move on. Granted owner Robert Kraft cares a great deal for Bledsoe, but he’s not going to let him go without getting something in return.

By saying he wouldn’t play for the Bengals, it dropped the price quite a bit considering it would have eliminated one potential suitor from the bidding pool.

The same held true when Bledsoe let the word out that under no circumstances would he return to the Patriots for another season as Brady’s back-up. By doing so it took away another bargaining tool that head coach Bill Belichick had already tried to use as leverage against anyone who approached him. Belichick and Kraft both had said they wouldn’t rule out having someone with Bledsoe’s calibur as their number two guy. They’ve said all along that “having two good quarterbacks wasn’t a bad problem.”

However it looks as though Bledsoe is starting to realize that this is a game that he can’t win with the way things are going, and he’s going to have to set aside his differences with Belichick and work with his former coach if he plans on finding a new start.

With that in mind Bledsoe recently let the word out that he hasn’t ruled out playing for the Bengals. Then ESPN reported on Tuesday that he may be warming to the idea of coming back next season as Tom Brady’s back-up. It comes on the heels of negotiations with the Bills after Buffalo reportedly made New England an offer for him.

The report that Bledsoe is considering a possible return to New England likely means that the offer wasn’t good enough.

For the three-time Pro Bowler to let word leak that he’s considering returning to his former team as the number two guy, it shows that he’s learning how the whole negotiation process works.

In fact despite how he may feel about coming back next year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if in the event that no deal is made by draft day (although that would be a surprise) that he may return to Foxboro for the offseason program. The reason being that regardless of whether he stays or goes he has a better chance if he’s in shape and ready to go by the time training camp arrives. It also shows the rest of the league that he’s prepared to enter the season on New England’s roster if no one else is willing to give the Patriots whatever deal they are looking for.

But for now the posturing will continue. Bills president Tom Donahoe can say all he wants that he’s willing to consider the likes of Jeff Blake, Chris Chandler, or whoever else he can recycle to lead a reeling Buffalo team, but Donahoe himself has admitted that the guy he wants most is Bledsoe, yet he claims he’s not willing to up the ante. Cincinnati says that they’re not actively persuing him, and that even if they were to get him they couldn’t fit him in uder their salary cap. It’s likely they’re playing hard to get to try and see if they can drive the price down.

While it’s likely things will change in the coming weeks, it’s doubtful that the mind games will end any time soon. The quarterback free agent pool may not be all that impressive, but any general manager who is in need of one knows that Bledsoe is the guy who can truly make the difference.

They know it, but now the question remains will they be willing to pay for him?

With the draft approaching the question will hopefully be answered soon. Whether or not the answer is one that Bledsoe or the Patriots are looking for remains to be seen.

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