BOSTON (CBS) – Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated’s joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Wednesday morning to discuss what’s next for the Patriots in free agency.

Despite Patriots fans’ demand for the contrary, it will be business as usual in New England.

Not signing Aqib Talib proves that notion.

Talib signed with the Denver Broncos late last night, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that it’s a six-year deal worth $57 million, with $26 million guaranteed.

Bedard agrees that the move improves the Broncos by a lot – in turn making the Patriots weaker – but “none of this matters until the season starts.”

With the signing of T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and the imminent signing of recently cut defensive end Demarcus Ware, there’s no question the Broncos have gotten better since the free agency floodgates opened Tuesday afternoon.

However, Bedard is of the mind the Patriots will be fine without Talib.

“I think people around here overrated Talib a little bit and his impact on the defense as a whole. I think a lot of the defensive improvement came from the entire defense getting better and improving with their personnel. The Patriots will be in the mix again and we’re going to have to see what moves they to do get better, but I think they’re going to be fine.”

Bedard feels like Antonio Cromartie would be a serviceable replacement for Talib, even though he comes with injury concerns as well.

So Talib’s gone, and currently Tom Brady’s most productive receiver in 2013 is testing the market in free agency.

Bedard predicts it’ll be a lot easier for the Patriots to retain Julian Edelman because there’s not a huge market for slot receivers.

“That position isn’t hugely valuable around the league. We saw that last year with Wes Welker.”

If Edelman’s not the answer at wideout, the Patriots reportedly have interest in Panthers free agent receiver Brandon Lafell, as well as linebacker Wesley Woodyard – none of whom are difference makers in Bedard’s mind.

“Woodyard got benched last year. He’s a good athlete. He has upside. He’s basically an improved Dane Fletcher with upside. Lafell is okay. He’s inconsistent though. He’s got some speed.”

To sum it all up the Patriots are staying active early this free agency period, but maybe they’re not operating with the same sense of urgency that most fans around here are.

This segued into a discussion with Bedard about the “championship window” of Tom Brady – this figurative, undefined amount of time before TB12 can no longer deliver the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Bedard’s not a fan of this “loading up” for a Super Bowl (the way Denver is doing), and he knows the Patriots aren’t either.

“I am totally against loading up in any season to get a Super Bowl, because what if you don’t get it? What if these players you’re extending yourselves for suddenly get hurt, or they’re ineffective, then you’ve gotta cut ’em and your cap is completely wrecked.”

Fred asked, “But isn’t it unique with Denver though because their window is do defined? They really only have maybe a year or two.”

“Everybody around here loves to talk about ‘Tom Brady’s window’ and ‘The Patriots window’ and stuff like that. But the Patriots and Belichick do not view it that way. No one season is more important for Belichick. Belichick wants to win just as badly after Brady retires than before he retires. I don’t see why because Brady’s getting older they have to do certain things.”

Listen below for the full discussion:


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