Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw walked out of negotiations yesterday, saying the sides were hopelessly deadlocked in their talks to extend the collective bargaining agreement. According to an NFC owner, however, all major issues have been agreed to except the ones that count the most: what percentage of the total gross revenue will be used to establish the salary cap and how the owners will divide the growing pot of local revenue among 32 franchises that do not share equally in it even though under a new deal they'll be charged equally for it when the salary cap is increased. Dave Goldberg of the Providence Journal also offers a similar report.
Frank Cooney of USA Today offers his top 64 prospects for the 2006 NFL Draft.
John Clayton of ESPN.com takes a look at Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk and offers notes from the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine.
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that as Bill Belichick's coaching tree expands, the competition for his type of player increases. Since the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2005, two of Belichick's defensive coordinators -- Mangini and Romeo Crennel -- left to become NFL head coaches. Nick Saban, another former defensive assistant, just finished his first season with the Dolphins. For the Patriots, that means four teams ahead of them in the April draft have very similar defensive philosophies and are looking for the same type of players. If the Patriots remain at No. 21, they may have to watch the Jets (fourth), Cleveland (12th), Miami (16th), and Dallas (18th) snatch players that would look good in Patriots blue.
John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the next week could prove pivotal in deciding whether McGinest returns for a 13th season in New England. He's due to make $8.3 million and will likely be released before a $3.5 million roster bonus comes due in early March, saving the team $6.8 million against the salary cap.
Glen Farley of The Enterprise writes that Saturday's release of cornerback Duane Starks was merely the first strike in a paring of the Patriots roster that could include the release of fellow corner Tyrone Poole and the renegotiation of outside linebacker Willie McGinest's contract.
More than 300 of the nation's top college players were invited to the combine for workouts, physical exams and interviews. The Providence Journal takes a look at some of the highlights of the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine.
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.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.