Carl Kotala of USA Today writes that the deadline to give potential free agents the franchise or transition tag is Feb. 23, the day after the NFL Combine begins in Indianapolis. Contracts running through the 2005 season for players not tagged will expire on March 2, and the free agency period will begin March 3. The draft is set for April 29-30. Kotala takes a look at the decisions each NFL team faces this offseason.
Leonard Shapiro and Mark Maske of the Washington Post write that the revenue-sharing debate among NFL team owners has become so combative that a group of owners of the most prosperous franchises has threatened to take legal action if a revenue-sharing plan they don't like is forced upon them. It has been widely believed around the league throughout the revenue-sharing debate that a group of eight teams has surpassed the rest of the league in revenue-generating capabilities. Those eight are thought to include the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns.
Denis Savage of PatriotsInsider.com offers a draft prospect profile on Virginia Tech's Darryl Tapp. Patriots' fans are already familiar with the tendency of Bill Belichick and his staff to acquire defensive ends and move them to the linebacker unit. In the 3-4 defense New England runs, linebackers who can rush and cover are at a premium. The hybrid types - as many have labeled them - tend to be on the lighter and faster side of defensive ends. The latest prospect out of the ACC is no exception. This number 55 would fit the Patriots mold quite nicely.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe also offers his latest Patriots mailbag. The focus of this edition of Patriots mailbag is on new contracts for wideout David Givens and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
USA Today's "Inside Slant" takes a look at defensive end Richard Seymour as he enters the final year of his six-year rookie contract. Seymour is actively seeking a contract extension with the Patriots. "At this point I can't say what I'm going to do, just see how it plays out," he told the Boston Herald at Super Bowl XL in Detroit. "In a perfect world we'll get it done. Period. In a perfect world, that's what I want to have happen. And I'm pretty optimistic and hopeful that it will happen. Now if (it doesn't), then we'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Tom Brady's impending hernia surgery and Patriots personnel losses are discussed. The column also includes Patriots notes and quotes.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily blog with Patriots notes. Reiss discusses whether tight end Christian Fauria will return for his fifth season with New England. Fauria is one of the teams 16 unrestricted free agents. "I think they know I want to stay; I definitely feel this is the best place for me and my family," said Fauria.