While one would think it is a huge priority for the Patriots to get a deal done with Edelman given the huge mistake they made with Wes Welker, the reality is that he may be expendable for the team. The reason? He is likely expecting a significant pay raise that the Pats are not willing to give to a player who has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
If the Patriots were to lose Edelman, they could then look to replace him in house. They would likely do this by promoting second year WR Josh Boyce to the primary slot receiver role. This would be advantageous for them to do instead of signing an expensive slot receiver that is unproven in their system.
That is not to say however, that they won’t look to add depth in free agency as well. They could even look to the draft for his replacement should he walk away and the organization feel that Boyce is not ready.
Unfortunately, Edelman’s fantastic season will likely hurt his chances of sticking with the team and Boyce could be the main beneficiary of that, especially with another year of learning the system under his belt. If Edelman walks, count on Boyce being the next man up at slot receiver, with Shane Vereen and perhaps another low-end free agent or draft pick challenging him for reps early in the season.