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With Patriots, history says don't mistake quietness for inactivity

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Five years ago, the New England Patriots did little on the opening day of free agency, much to the frustration of parts of the fan base that hoped to see a more aggressive approach.

At that time, the point was made not to mistake quietness for inactivity.

The same could be said for 2016.

The Patriots are going to make some free-agent moves this year -- it's just a matter of when. The answer is usually when the prices start to drop to more reasonable levels and that could be as soon as today.

Some of the money paid out across the NFL on Wednesday to mid-range players was off the charts and too high for the Patriots to absorb when they have to be thinking about upcoming contract extension talks for a defensive core that includes linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, defensive ends Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard, and cornerback Malcolm Butler.

So as the Patriots often are, they've been disciplined and smart to this point.

And there are still plenty of quality players available at the positions the club has arguably cast its widest net -- receiver, running back and tight end. There are reports that the Patriots have inquired about restricted free-agent running back C.J. Anderson (Broncos). The Saints didn’t tender an offer to restricted free-agent running back Khiry Robinson, making him a free agent, and perhaps that catches the Patriots’ attention. At receiver, Anquan Boldin is one intriguing possibility, and the club could also take us up on our suggestion to look the way of Oakland's Rod Streater. Meanwhile, tight end Jeff Cumberland was released by the Jets on Wednesday, fills a need, and wouldn't count against the compensatory pick formula.

Those are just a few of the possibilities in play, and if history is any indication, the Patriots will be getting busy in some form.

In 2011, they followed a similar script, and after a quiet opening to free agency, things happened in a frenzy, the team trading for defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth and receiver Chad Ochocinco in succession. No, those moves ultimately didn't work out, but they came so fast that it was a reminder of not being lulled into thinking the team would sit idle.

So fast-forward to the present day and know this: It won't end with a one-year deal for linebacker Ramon Humber, a special teams ace who was the team's only signing Wednesday of a player from another roster.