Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that the Pats head into the spring with clear needs in the secondary. Somewhere, via the draft or free agency, the Pats must find a front-line corner and a safety who can play at a high level in case Rodney Harrison (knee) struggles in his comeback or Eugene Wilson remains the nonfactor he was in 2005. That means Belichick and Pioli must find those defensive backs who not only have the physical traits to cover receivers, but the toughness to come up in run support and the overall aptitude to absorb the most complicated defense in the league. The trick for Pioli and Belichick this week is to pick out the top collegiate specimens who not only can run and jump, but hit and think as well. They need strength and toughness. The two can't be mutually exclusive.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that New England is unwilling to pay the $3 million price tag for their star kicker, and now have until March 3 to work out a deal and prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The Patriots have until 4 p.m. today to designate a franchise player, and all indications are that they won't use the designation.
The Providence Journal takes a look at Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri's career highlights.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that with NFL owners squabbling among themselves over money issues and the owners and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) trying to hammer out an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), a thick cloud of uncertainty hangs over the most important player acquisition period -- free agency and the draft. Free agency is scheduled to begin March 3, but if an agreement between the owners and NFLPA isn't reached, the 2007 season will be an "uncapped" year. For a league that's been living with a hard salary cap for more than a decade, a lifting of the cap means chaos and bad news for both sides. Curran also offers Patriots notes in his article and reports that Patriots corners Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks pose significant cap issues to the team in the coming months. Poole has a roster bonus in the neighborhood of $500,000 coming due early next month. Starks is on the books to make $3.65 million in salary and has a signing bonus hit of $1.5 million in 2006.
David Picker of the New York Times reports that the Jets cut ties with cornerback Ty Law. He would have received $11 million if he had been with the team March 3, so the move was expected. Law joined the Jets last season after 10 years with the New England Patriots. With 10 interceptions and 62 tackles, he was selected to play in the Pro Bowl.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes. Reiss also offers his latest Patriots mailbag which focuses on new contracts for wideout David Givens and kicker Adam Vinatieri.
[Mike Holbrook](http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/NFL/AFC/AFC East/New England/Features/2006/holbrook022106.htm) of ProFootballWeekly.com offers a Q&A with Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest. In his 12th season in the NFL, McGinest played all 16 games for the third time in the past four seasons. He finished second on the team in sacks with six and added four passes defended. But his greatest moment came in the Pats' 28-3 romp over the Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs. McGinest registered a playoff single-game record 4 1/2 sacks in that contest. Holbrook talks with McGinest about his pride in getting through a difficult 2005 season, the empty feeling that he had after the championship run ended in a playoff loss to Denver and his belief that ex-Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini will be a success in New York.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.