Pondering Ed Reed and Patriots fit

With news that the Houston Texans will release safety Ed Reed today, the question naturally comes to mind: Might the New England Patriots be interested?

We know all about the mutual admiration between Reed and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It's something that has come up annually in the days leading up to recent Patriots-Ravens games.

The Patriots also have a need, as starting safety Steve Gregory broke his right thumb on Nov. 3 and is expected to miss a "few weeks," according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The backups are rookie Duron Harmon, disappointing-from-a-defensive-perspective 2012 second-round draft choice Tavon Wilson, and special teamer Nate Ebner.

Given those factors, it wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots were indeed interested in Reed, who obviously is no longer a Pro Bowl-caliber player but could still help in a complementary role.

This takes us back to the offseason and the team's decision-making process at the position. The Patriots saw it as a need and ultimately signed veteran safety Adrian Wilson (three years, $5 million) instead of Reed (three years, reported $15 million). Part of that might have been cost-related but also about focusing on a different style of play -- Wilson is a bigger, more physical safety while Reed is the rangy free-safety type (a role held by emerging Pro Bowl talent Devin McCourty in New England).

While some of our friends on the Boston talk radio circuit crushed the Patriots for taking the cheap route, it turns out the moves didn't work out for anyone involved. Wilson was on the roster bubble by the end of training camp and ultimately landed on season-ending injured reserve, while Reed was a big disappointment and will now have a bigger hit on the Texans' salary cap.

Has the picture now changed enough that the Patriots would consider signing Reed, especially at what would probably be a significantly reduced price?

Consider that two of the Patriots' final seven games are against Houston and Baltimore -- Reed's former teams -- and it adds value to the consideration.

So if Reed passes through waivers, and there is interest from Reed himself, it makes sense to think the Patriots would at least explore the possibility, if not make it happen.