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Kraft on Tebow, free agency, Welker and Mankins

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  March 26, 2012 02:19 PM

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Kraft-meetings.jpgPatriots' owner Robert Kraft met with reporters here at The Breakers for about 15 minutes, after one of the many meetings he'll attend this week at the NFL's annual meetings.

He touched on a wide range of topics, both those specific to his team and others pertaining to the league.

Here's a sample, mostly Pats-centric:

On Tim Tebow being in the AFC East as a member of the Jets:
I think it’s exciting; I think it’s a lot of fun. You know, the NFL is about rivalries, and now, I think having Peyton Manning coming back – I’m glad he’s coming to Gillette Stadium and we’re not going up to Denver, but we saw the difference when we played the Colts this year, first time Peyton wasn’t in the game, and I’m a big fan of Tim Tebow. I love that he’s into spirituality, and I think it makes the rivalry even a bigger rivalry and I don’t know if there will be enough media hype around the game, but it will be a lot of fun.

I understand he went to see his first Broadway play since being back in town, so that’s good. Tell him to see “Evita” - because we’re investors in it.

Whether the Patriots discussed acquiring Tebow:
That’s, we don’t discuss those kind of discussions. Surely, we wouldn’t… I know that both our head coach and our offensive coordinator are fans of Tim Tebow and appreciate his unique skills. He’s just a great young man and we’re looking forward to the rivalry. And we want him to go see Evita.

On free agency and the Pats' generally waiting to sign players:
I think every team has to do what they think is right. I think what you’re going to see over the next few years, is the market is going to be a different market. I think every team has to decide what’s in their best interests. When you’re the first one in the market place, you’re surely going to be paying top price. So, if that’s your need, then that’s the correct thing to do, but I think that we try to think long. We’re in the business for the long-term, we don’t plan on selling the franchise, we’d like to be competitive every year to try to make the playoffs. So, the only way you’re going to do that is to get quality depth management and have players have good values and you can only pay so many players top dollar and field a team that will be competitive.

On the proposed rule changes, including one which would let teams remove one player per season from injured reserve:
I think the biggest one is being able to bring back an injured player. Even the year with Brady and the Kansas City game, he possibly could have come back at the end of that year. He actually wanted to, I remember the discussion. I think all that does is just allow us to keep the game more exciting for those teams that make it to the playoffs, it’s a great opportunity to be able to do that. I think it’s a very positive thing.

On losing BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who signed with the Bengals:
BenJarvus, I’m so sorry that he left us. You’re getting a gem. He’s one of the finest players to come through our system. He never fumbled once in four years, I think over 600 carries, he’s a gentleman, he’s a hard worker and I’m just sorry you paid him more than we were willing to pay him.

Whether there might be contract talks between New England and Wes Welker's agents this week (agent David Dunn is here in Palm Beach):
Well, our personnel people are here. Wes is, he’s another special guy, sort of like BenJarvus. I’m happy he’s part of our team this year, and I hope he’ll be part of of our team long-term. He represents everything we love.

Signing Brandon Lloyd - any hesitation because of his past problems?
Everyone in our system was 100 percent behind the signing. We think he’s complimentary to what we have. I’m happy that we also have Donte Stallworth back with us. I had a chance to see him in the office last week and it was really good to see him. He’s excited to be back, and we really liked it when he was there with us. So we’re excited about that.

On Chad Ochocinco restructuring his contract
He’s a real good guy, and he was cooperative and did everything. I hope he winds up having a productive year with us. But we have a pretty competitive group now at wide receiver in our system, so we’ll see what happens.

On Logan Mankins playing in the Super Bowl with a torn ACL:
Logan Mankins is a gamer and pretty special. He’s an unbelievable guy; terrific player.

Apologies for the not-so-great picture...

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