The clock is counting down to Thursday afternoon's new league for the NFL and the official opening of free agency.
The rumor mill of the league's "legal tampering" period is churning at full speed.
And teams are finalizing their plans heading into the money-filled open market.
For the Patriots, according to ESPNBoston.com, that included tendering the team's restricted free agents, led by a first-round, $3.91 million tender for Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler, though no long-term deal is apparently imminent with the Super Bowl hero. ESPNBoston.com wonders if a team would still pursue Butler in free agency, desite the potential first-round pick compensation to sign him.
There is no doubt that Dont'a Hightower is the most important, valuable Patriots player set to hit free agency and the Boston Globe says New England cannot afford to let the linebacker leave town. Rumors have tried to tie the Patriots to free agent running back Adrian Peterson, but the Globe says New England needs to let another team take that "bargain."
The Globe also notes that Butler got the first-round tender, while detailing the deals for other New England restricted free agents such as tackle Cam Fleming. The Globe looks at Tom Brady's entry into the healthy meal delivery business. The *Globe *also has a full free agency guide for NFL fans.
The* Herald agrees that the Patriots are better off passing on the running back Peterson. The *Herald Patriots notebook looks at the Butler tender tale. The Herald also reports on Brady's meal business, which apparently gets you three vegetable meals a week for $78. Herald columnist Steve Buckley offers his thoughts on Brady's meal plan. The Herald notes that Miami tight end David Njoku is already a popular pick for the Patriots in the mock draft world.
With free agency fast approaching, the Providence Journal says the Patriots are looking at the possibility of losing five starters on defense. The Pro Jo has its version of the Butler story.
ESPNBoston.com breaks down the new two-year contract between the Patriots and valuable fullback James Develin. ESPNBoston.com has Nate Solder making pancakes and smiles at Boston Children's Hospital on Tuesday. ESPNBoston.com tries to explain why Fleming, who was cut by Patriots in 2015 and spent time on the practice squad, is worth the $1.79 million tender.
WEEI.com notes that the Patriots reportedly have interest in free agent wide receiver Desean Jackson, formerly of the Redskins and Eagles. This comes despite reports that the Patriots are also continuing to try to trade for Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, as WEEI.com updates those rumors. WEEI.com writes that reports have indicated that New England's asking price in a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo could be multiple first-round picks. WEEI.com has former Colts Bill Polian trying to pretend he had Brady highly graded coming out of Michigan.
CSNNE.com writes about the Patriots keeping season ticket prices steady for 2017. CSNNE.com looks at New England taking a familiar free agent approach with Butler. CSNNE.com says that even in free agency, everything revolves around the Patriots.
NFL.com has Brandon Marshall jumping from one New York team to another, signing with the Giants. NFL.com says the Patriots don't view 2017 as any sort of deadline in regards to Garoppolo. Despite supposedly being willing to sign a team-friendly deal with New England, Peterson doesn't list the Patriots among his top targets while looking for a new NFL home. NFL.com is one of the updated mock drafts with Njoku landing in New England.
Cleveland.com says that the Browns "dream scenario" for this spring would include trading the 12th pick in the draft for Garoppolo, though the site says the team won't be willing to also send a first-round pick in 2018 in a potential deal.