PALM BEACH, Florida -- A few notable soundbites from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who answered questions from reporters today at the NFL annual meeting:
1. Not a lock, but anticipating division games to open and close season. "I think what you saw happen last year, it kept the interest. I think there is a drive to … there will be certain games that are opening games, but I think what you see is we’re trying to have every division, people play their first couple of games in their division and their last couple of games in the division, and that way we keep the rivalries and keep it as competitive as we can keep it that way.”
2. Expecting a different type of player market in coming years. "I think what you’re going to see over the next few years, the market is going to be a different market. ... I think in the past, you had certain spikes in the salary cap that allowed teams who had overspent to do things to even things out. I think what you’ll see over the next five to six years is a smoother growth in the salary cap. It won’t be the kind of jump that you saw in ’06, and so I think it will require that people manage the resources they have as intelligently as they can."
3. Pats set a limit on BenJarvus Green-Ellis that Bengals exceeded: "I’m so sorry that he left us. You’re getting a gem [in Cincinnati]. 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. I’m just sorry they paid him more than we were willing to pay him."
4. The possibility of contract talks with Wes Welker's agent at NFL annual meeting: "Our personnel people are here, and you know, Wes is 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 our team long-term. He represents everything we love."
5. Excited about additions at receiver with Brandon Lloyd & Donte' Stallworth: "Everyone in our system was 100 percent behind the signing [of Brandon Lloyd]. We think he’s complementary 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. We really liked it when he was there with us, so we’re excited about that."
6. Chad Ochocinco and his contract restructure: "He’s a real good guy. He was cooperative and did everything, and I hope he winds up having a productive year with us. We have a pretty competitive group now at wide receiver in our system. We’ll see what happens."
7. The Bills are coming after Tom Brady: "Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, I think they have like $26 or $28 million tied up in the defensive line, so our o-line is going to have to do a good job. I’m sure part of that was geared towards coming after our boy, No. 12. Congratulations to them. They really improved their d-line and probably Mario Williams is the best player at his position in the league. They really improved. Another good rivalry."
8. Reaction to Logan Mankins playing in Super Bowl on torn ACL: "Logan Mankins is a gamer and pretty special. He’s an unbelievable guy, a terrific player."