Taylor can't deny Patriots interest is flattering

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Jason Taylor was trying to be discreet about his future.

Would the six-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher return to the Miami Dolphins?

"Absolutely. There's no reason I wouldn't."

Did he have any response to the reports linking him to the New England Patriots?

"I don't know where it's coming from."

Does he have a timetable for finding a new employer?

"My main focus right now is spending time with the kids and the family."

Then I asked him a question he couldn't dodge because the wide smile that broke out over his face gave him away.

On the red carpet Sunday night for a Jason Taylor Foundation event at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, I asked if he'd seen the comments from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who dropped a big hint they were ready to sign Taylor.

"I did hear that. I can't lie," Taylor replied, unsuccessfully trying to conceal laughter. "I have not talked to Robert Kraft. We'll leave it at that. Those things will sort themselves out, and hopefully in the near future so I can get back to work.

"But it's great to be wanted. It's great to be wanted, sure, especially an organization like them, or the Dolphins. Anybody, really, that said they wanted me, it'd be great. And to go to a situation where you can be productive, and used the right way. That would be good for both parties, and what I'm looking forward to."

Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown is hopeful Taylor can return to the Dolphins, but that might be difficult. Taylor and Dolphins football operations boss Bill Parcells experienced philosophical differences that might be unfixable.

The Patriots, however, might be the perfect fit.

"Those guys try to get everybody," Brown said of the Patriots. "To have another guy like that to play against, that would be tough."

Said Dolphins legend Dan Marino: "Jason Taylor is an incredible player. He's been an incredible player, and he's my friend. I want to see him play football, so wherever it is, whether it's with the Patriots or the Dolphins or the Jets, I hope for the best for Jason."

Patriots receiver Wes Welker is lobbying for Taylor to come aboard. Welker played three seasons with Taylor in Miami and was at the Hard Rock to support his friend's charity.

"I'm kind of nudging him a little bit, but at the same time he's got to do what's best for him and his family," Welker said.

The Patriots need help at outside linebacker. They packaged popular veteran Mike Vrabel in the trade that sent quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs. The top candidate on the Patriots' roster to replace Vrabel is Pierre Woods.

Reports have linked the Patriots to Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, who wants to play 3-4 outside linebacker, but many football insiders doubt the Patriots can pull off that trade.

Taylor, however, is a free agent and can be signed at any time. Taylor turns 35 in September, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is fond of veteran players and has had success squeezing a season or two of production out of them.

"I know Coach Belichick likes the veteran, smart guys that have been around the league for a while and know how everything works and how to be a pro," Welker said. "For us, it's all about becoming a better team and whatever we can do to improve our team, that's what we're going to do."

The Washington Redskins released Taylor on March 2 after one disappointing season. Taylor battled a freak calf injury that required emergency surgery and finished with 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The Redskins would have owed him about $8.5 million in 2009.

"The biggest thing is it's not about the money because I walked away from the money in D.C.," Taylor said. "It has to be a situation where it works for everybody.

"What happened in D.C. wasn't fair for myself. It wasn't fair for the organization. You go up and play a position you've never played on a consistent ba
sis and you try to force it, and it didn't work.

"That's what I tried to emphasize to [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder and everybody. I wanted to be fair for them and not just take the money to take the money. ... You want to be productive, and be with the right team, and help the situation. We'll work it out and see where it is. You still get paid, but it's not all about money."