"If you look at the history of what they've done, the perimeter receivers are really interchangeable parts, to be honest," an AFC executive told Bedard. "Just look at the transactions they've done in the past. They've replaced a player of almost equal status in Wes Welker with Danny Amendola. The only thing he lacks in my mind is continuity with a quarterback, and the durability issues. The latter is a concern, the former isn't.
"Tom Brady will make it work. He always does."
The gist: Trust in Brady. This isn't exactly a new practice for the organization, plus there's still a couple of pretty good tight ends on the Pats' roster.
"Look, even if the (Rob) Gronkowski arm stuff goes poorly, he's still going to be there when it matters," an NFC executive told Bedard. "So is (Aaron) Hernandez. Yeah, the injuries are a concern, but they are for all of us. As long as you have the tight ends and Brady down the stretch, I don't care who else is playing on the perimeter - they'll win that division and a playoff game. Beyond that, they have to hope the changes put them over the top. But they'll be there at the end, which is all you want. The rest comes down to luck and health."
The Patriots have won 10-plus games in 11 of the last 12 seasons. They've made the playoffs 10 times in that span. Sanders would be an important pickup, but coach Bill Belichick and Brady have earned that trust regardless.
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.