Steve Bailey of the Boston Globe reports that several executives in the real estate and construction industries have been briefed on a plan by the Kraft family to build a development on its 500 acres around Gillette Stadium that will exceed 1 million square feet. The working name: Patriots Place. The development, a kind of ''guy mall," will be heavily oriented toward big-box retail stores and entertainment. A Home Depot would be a natural. It is likely to include a hotel, restaurants, a 16-screen National Amusements theater, smaller boutique stores, and a "lifestyle center" that would have a day-surgery center where guys could get their shoulder fixed without having to go into Boston. A Kraft spokesman declined to comment and Foxborough officials did not return my calls about the Krafts' development plans.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots are thought to be right at the NFL's projected 2006 cap limit of $92 million. But that doesn't take into account the bloated contracts and phony years that can be trimmed between now and free agency. In actuality, the Pats should be in good shape. Willie McGinest, for example, is entering a "phony" year similar to the one Troy Brown had last offseason. McGinest is due $7 million in new money ($3.5 million roster bonus, $3.5 million salary), and that number most certainly will be renegotiated down. Likewise, it's hard to see the Pats bringing back Starks at his $3.6 million salary and Tyrone Poole at his compensation ($500,000 roster bonus; $1.5 million salary). Let's say McGinest's 2006 compensation is cut in half and Starks and Poole are sent packing along with their salaries. That's around $9 million in savings without breaking a sweat. The Patriots should be in position to throw around a few bucks in free agency this offseason.
Jerome Solomon of the *Boston Globe * takes a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers' road to Super Bowl XL.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.