Throughout New England Patriots center Dan Koppen's rehab from a broken left ankle that sidelined him for all but one game of the 2011 season, quarterback Tom Brady would approach him and let his longtime center know how much the team wanted him back next season.
With the start of free agency looming in March, time will tell if Brady gets his wish. Koppen, who turns 33 in September, is set to become an unrestricted free agent and it's unclear if he'll be back in New England for a 10th season.
"The options are open" Koppen told the Boston Herald this week. "It’s been a great nine years that I’ve had playing for the Patriots and playing in front of the New England fans,” Koppen said. “I’ve accomplished a lot in those nine years and now it’s just a part of the career where things are not as concrete as they have been in years past. We’re open to whatever opportunities come our way."
Dan Connolly, who will also become a free agent, subbed in at center after Koppen was placed on injured reserve Sept. 22. While Koppen's age might seem as a possible deterrent to a new deal, the Herald pointed out that the center spot is one of the few positions in the NFL where players have seen success into their late 30s.
"Hats off to those guys that have done it,” Koppen said. “But I don’t really look at them and say, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’ I just go by how I’m feeling right now. And I feel great. The leg’s better, the ankle’s better. I feel like I got a few more years left in this body, that’s for sure.”