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Patriots.com News Blitz - 03/03/06

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe and Tom Curran of the Providence Journal report that after a unanimous vote, the owners and the Player's Association have agreed to postpone the start of the league year until Monday in hopes of reaching an agreement to extend the current collective bargaining agreement. NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw's demand that 60 percent of total gross revenues be used to establish any future salary cap in exchange for seven more years of labor peace was flatly rejected, first by the league's Labor Committee on a unanimous 8-0 vote Wednesday night, then by the full ownership, which remains adamant about their counteroffer of 56.2 percent of the gross.

Ron Borges of the *Boston Globe * takes a look at the fallout that can be expected if negotiations fall through on extending the current collective bargaining agreement.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Patriots have signed cornerback Hank Poteat to a one-year, $545,000 contract. The deal was confirmed by Poteat's agent, Brian Levy. Poteat's deal, which includes a $6,100 workout bonus, qualifies for the minimum salary benefit. It will count $466,100 against the salary cap. Poteat was part of the Patriots' final cuts during 2005 training camp, but was re-signed Oct. 19 when the team had a run of injuries at cornerback. Playing primarily in nickel packages, Poteat, 28, appeared in 10 games. He was credited with 24 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble.

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe offers a story on linebacker Willie McGinest. McGinest has been a stalwart on the Patriots' three Super Bowl championship teams, elevating his play at an age when most of his peers begin to diminish. Last season, his play got stronger as the season progressed, culminating with a playoff-record 4 1/2-sack game against Jacksonville. But he likely will be among hundreds of veterans released by their teams. "We didn't think they were ever going to pay me $7 million or $8 million next year," McGinest said from his home in Los Angeles. "This last year [2006] was a ghost deal. It wasn't meant to stick. That's why we escalated the numbers the way we did. It would be great if they exercised it and gave me $7 million or $8 million, but I knew if it came to it, they'd renegotiate, release me, or release me and then do a new contract."

John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Adam Vinatieri has reportedly turned down an offer from the Patriots for what sources are saying was a multiyear contract worth more than $2 million annually that would keep him the highest-paid kicker in the game. Tomase reports that a source close to Vinatieri said he wants to let the market determine his value, "like at an auction."

Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots went into this offseason prepared to operate under one of two scenarios: Plan A with a new collective bargaining agreement and Plan B without one. Either way, Willie McGinest isn't going to receive his $3.5 million option bonus and will become a free agent. Either way, Adam Vinatieri appears determined to dip his toes into the market, as sources say he has not accepted a multiyear deal from the Pats that would keep him the highest-paid kicker in the game. Either way, receiver David Givens is going to receive some big-time offers. But with a new CBA, and a subsequent salary cap of at least $105 million, up from the current $94.5 million figure, the Pats will have the room to better negotiate with those players on the back end. What's more, the additional room would open the door for a long-awaited extension for Richard Seymour and more aggressive approach in what is a growing free agent pool.

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.

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