The Patriots let their top wide receiver leave in free agency last offseason, and they may do the same this year, too.
Julian Edelman was not able to reach a deal on a new contract and began to shop his services to other teams when free agency began at 4 p.m. Tuesday, a league source told the Globe.
Edelman, entering his sixth NFL season, is coming off a breakout year in which he led the Patriots with 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.
The source said that Edelman had extensive talks with the Patriots through Tuesday and will continue to negotiate with the team, but he will test the market, as well.
It is believed that Cleveland, Baltimore, and Houston also have interest in Edelman, who could be looking to better the $10 million guaranteed that the Patriots gave Danny Amendola last season.
Edelman would like to return to the Patriots but doesn’t seem intent on giving them a hometown discount. Last year he barely drew any interest in free agency, and he returned to the Patriots on a one-year, league-minimum contract with incentives.
After establishing himself as the team’s top receiver, Edelman wants to cash in this time, especially since big NFL paydays come only once or twice in a career.
“It’s just business,” the source said.Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.