Are Patriots targeting Larry Fitzgerald this offseason?

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Around New England you can be sure that each offseason will include the following elements.

Irritation over Bill Belichick shutting out the media at the NFL Combine. Draft day trades galore. Rumors about deals for Larry Fitzgerald.

Speculation about Fitzgerald has been rife for year, but I’ve never seen any smoke. Or even smelled it. And the finances involved rarely made it seem reasonable.

But Tuesday in New York, a source told me that last offseason the Patriots were indeed interested in acquiring Fitzgerald and sent out feelers to gauge the feasibility.

The source didn’t share the timing of the interest -- whether it came before or after Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder, released and jailed is germane -- or the level to which talks proceeded. But the source is very well-placed.

Things mustn’t have gotten too far last offseason, otherwise word would have been rampant. As for this offseason? The Patriots’ need remains.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald turns 31 on August 30. Push could come to shove this offseason with Arizona. Fitzgerald is going to count $18 million against the Cardinals’ cap and, according to the well-connected Kent Somers at the Arizona Republic, Fitzgerald isn’t going to agree to a pay cut. Fitzgerald will, Somers says, entertain a restructuring.

Fitzgerald caught 82 passes for 954 yards in 2013, his second straight season with fewer than 1,000 yards receiving. Arizona is, however, a team that showed improvement under first-year coach Bruce Arians. Whether they’d entertain a Fitzgerald trade is the most important factor.

-- Tom E. Curran,

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