One of the primary questions facing the Patriots in free agency is with receiver Julian Edelman, who is coming off a career-best season.

Edelman will certainly receive more interest on the open market than he did at this time last year, when only the Patriots and Giants were in the mix. He ended up settling on a "prove-it" one-year deal, which was a smart move.

Edelman proved it in a big way.

The future of the Patriots' 2013 leading receiver is where this week's Patriots mailbag begins.

Q. Hi Mike, given Julian Edelman's "career season" and the obvious need for such a receiver to balance the "work in progress" rookies and a challenged Danny Amendola, GM Bill Belichick has to make sure that neither a Welker/Woodhead scenario repeats itself. Could this lead to the franchise tag being placed on him? Your thoughts? -- Jake M. (Vancouver)

A. Jake, the first day that teams can begin placing the franchise or transition tag on players is Feb. 17. As strong of a season as Edelman had, I don't see the Patriots going in that direction, in part because of the price tag -- around $11 million on a one-year deal. My projection on Edelman's market is that the Patriots should expect it to be in the same range as the deal that Danny Amendola received. I could see a team such as the Texans or Browns seeing it as an ideal fit and taking the bidding to a higher level than the Patriots might be comfortable going.