Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. There isn't much business for the Patriots to address between now and the start of training camp in late July (date TBA), but one loose end is finalizing a contract for second-round draft choice Aaron Dobson, the wide receiver out of Marshall. On the surface, it shouldn't be that hard. Only about 40 picks league-wide remain unsigned -- all of the Patriots' other picks are inked -- and the two players sandwiched around Dobson in the draft (Broncos running back Montee Ball at No. 58 and Falcons cornerback Robert Alford at No. 60) just signed their deals late last week. That could accelerate a resolution between the Patriots and Dobson.
2a. As much as I would have liked to hear Tom Brady share his unfiltered opinion of the Patriots' signing of Tim Tebow, I understood why he chose his words carefully when questioned by reporters Wednesday. It's why he's the top-notch leader he is. Check out the transcript of his remarks and how he masterfully turned any discussion about Tebow either back to himself or to a team-wide focus. For what it's worth, I don't think Brady blinked when it came to the signing of Tebow. I think his greater concern at this point is getting to a comfort level he feels good about with the Patriots' receiving corps. Based on its high level of success in recent years, the passing game was tough to watch at times over the last four weeks of practice. The silver lining: It's only June. Long way to go.
2b. Given the lack of history Brady has with most of the team's receivers, I think Julian Edelman could be a more important piece of the passing-game puzzle than I previously thought this year. Brady trusts him, not to mention respects his work ethic greatly.
3. From an off-the-field perspective, I can see why veteran receiver Michael Jenkins appealed to the Patriots this offseason. He seems to get it. I enjoyed speaking with him after Wednesday's minicamp practice as he reflected on offenses in which he played with the Falcons (2004-2010) and Vikings (2011-2012), and how the Patriots' attack is structured differently. My biggest takeaway from the chat with Jenkins is that the Patriots have a lot more things happening at the line of scrimmage, and things can change quickly based on the defensive look, thus it's imperative for quarterback and receiver to be seeing the same picture. I walked away from the discussion and wrote these two thoughts down: "A good reminder of why the Patriots place such a high value on football smarts, especially at receiver. ... Imperative that rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce are ready to go for the start of training camp if they are going to be significant contributors in 2013 because that type of connection doesn't just happen overnight."
4. The absence of Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes from voluntary offseason workouts might prove to be a forgotten storyline in 2013, especially if Spikes brings his trademark physical style of play and improves his work in pass coverage. But when it comes to considering a contract extension for Spikes for 2014 and beyond, I don't think Bill Belichick will forget that he was the only player not to show up, before Spikes explained his absence this way: "I do things a little different from everybody else. Honestly, if everybody in this world was a [conformist], it would be one boring place." Safe to say that's not the message Belichick wants his younger players -- especially 2013 top pick Jamie Collins (working at linebacker) -- to hear. It's hard for me to imagine Belichick rewarding that mindset and approach with a contract extension, in part because of the message it would send to others.
5. Giants receiver Victor Cruz signed his $2.87 million restricted free-agent tender last week, not wanting to take the risk of the club potentially slashing his pay to $630,000 on Monday. The Giants reportedly planned to cut Cruz's pay, proving that even an organization viewed as one of the classiest in the NFL can go the cutthroat route. From a bottom-line perspective, I don't blame Cruz for signing the tender. At the same time, when I saw he did, it reminded me of why Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins might be the most principled Patriot in recent memory. In 2010, the Patriots threatened to slash Mankins' restricted free agent tender from $3.26 million to $1.54 million in hopes of sparking him to sign. But Mankins didn't blink because he felt he wasn't being valued appropriately, and also shouldn't have been in that position entering his sixth season (he would have been an unrestricted free agent if not for the uncapped season). So the team followed through and cut his tender and Mankins stayed away for seven weeks before reporting so he could be eligible for an accrued season. In doing so, Mankins walked away from $1.72 million at a time when he was still in search of his first big NFL contract. How many players would do that?
6a. I thought it was interesting that within a 24-hour span, the contrast in how the Patriots and Jets approach things was highlighted in these two stories: Wes Welker says he can now be more like himself, and Dustin Keller said there was always some type of "nonsense" surrounding the Jets that created distractions. My translation: The Patriots go out of their way to manage distractions, controlling the message as much as possible as media coverage seems to grow each year, while the Jets, as coach Rex Ryan has said, encourage players to speak their mind for better or worse. The teams couldn't be at further opposite ends of the media relations spectrum.
6b. One follow-up on Welker: I don't think he's off the mark in saying what he did, as the Broncos are encouraging him that it's OK to loosen up a bit compared to his time in New England. It's a different market and the team is run differently. At the same time, I think that had very little to do, if anything, with Welker's departure from New England. Let's not forget that on the day he agreed to terms with the Broncos, he still went back to the Patriots to give them the opportunity to match the offer. It wasn't as if Welker was saying, "Terrific! Now I can be more like myself. I'm out of here."
7. It was my initial feeling that Belichick liked the idea of signing Tebow as much for his presence as his football skills, similar to Doug Flutie in 2005. After listening to veteran running back Leon Washington on 1010 XL in Jacksonville on Friday, my belief grew a bit stronger along those lines. "If you talk about one thing, he's definitely going to add his leadership; his leadership and the way he carries himself as man ... it's definitely going to rub off on the rest of the guys, and the way he comes in and works," Washington said on the program. "That's one thing I'm excited for the young guys to kind of see and to get that perspective of player that comes in and takes his job seriously every day, and definitely works hard."
8. Did you know: The Patriots' joint practices with the Eagles Aug. 6-7 will mark the first time that the Eagles have held joint practices since 1998, according to the team's website.
9. When it comes to joint practices, similar to last year when the Patriots liked what they saw from cornerback Aqib Talib in Tampa and later acquired him, could there be a potential target in a trade this year? Specifically, I looked at the receiver depth charts of both teams because that's the area I could see the Patriots looking for a boost. At an initial glance, the Eagles look deeper than the Buccaneers at the position. There are receivers with Patriots ties on both rosters -- Greg Salas with the Eagles, Tiquan Underwood with the Buccaneers.
10. I was thinking it was generous of the Patriots to have signed offensive lineman Tyronne Green on May 13, giving him a $10,000 signing bonus, before releasing him on May 31. But if that was generous, then what the Bills did for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was really generous. The Bills signed Jackson on Feb. 15, giving him a $500,000 signing bonus, before releasing him last week. Teams are going to make mistakes, but if I was writing the checks in Buffalo, I'd want to know why $500,000 was blown so quickly with nothing to show for it. For perspective, Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett is scheduled to earn a base salary of $642,984 this year.
EXTRA POINT: Thanks, Kimberly Jones of NFL Network, for sharing this poignant Father's Day-themed story on Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. Also, it's nice to see that an owner like Jerry Richardson, even in a bottom-line business in which owners and players don't always see eye to eye, showed such compassion for one of his players in a time of need. And finally, no surprise that Boston's Children's Hospital was a big part of it. When it comes to this stuff, they're the football equivalent of an All-Pro team.