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New England Patriots reportedly high on Ryan Mallett

In light of the depressed quarterback market in free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft, there has been no lack of offseason speculation that the New England Patriots will be open to offers for backup Ryan Mallett.

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For the second time since last summer, however, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday the Patriots remain high on Mallett and have "really been impressed" with his practices. "Even Brian Daboll, who left Kansas City and joined the Patriots in the postseason, recognized that Mallett could have won the starting job with the Chiefs -- and with other NFL franchises," Schefter wrote.

Although the Patriots have been known to hype their backup quarterbacks via NFL insiders, they did prove their confidence in Mallett by installing him as the lone backup to Tom Brady upon waiving Brian Hoyer last August.

With Matt Cassel likely to be available for a potential New England reunion with coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots are in a sweet spot with Mallett.

They can afford to part with him if a desperate team blows them away with a trade offer. If no team meets their asking price, they can keep their talented young backup as Brady insurance.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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