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Patriots.com News Blitz - 03/06/06

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that the NFL and the players union have agreed to delay the start of free agency again in hopes that an agreement can be reached to extend the current CBA. The agreement delays the start of free agency for another 72 hours, or until 12:01 a.m. Thursday, to allow all the owners to discuss the union's insistence that 60 percent of total gross revenues be used to establish salary caps. Under the new plan, all teams must comply with the new salary cap by 9 p.m Wednesday. Tuesday morning the owners also will debate their internal differences over local revenues, because it seems clear no CBA extension will be agreed to until low-revenue teams are satisfied they will be able to compete on a fairly level playing field with their high-revenue partners.

John Tomase of the *Boston Herald * takes a look at the Patriots salary cap situaltion. While a CBA extension was of the utmost importance to teams like the Redskins who are hopelessly over the salary cap, in Foxboro the Patriots were OK either way. With or without an extension, the Pats didn't have to cut anyone to fit under the $94.5 million salary cap. Their cap number stood at roughly $90 million. That doesn't mean the Pats won't have some decisions to make in the coming weeks, such as on linebacker Willie McGinest, who could earn as much as $8.3 million in 2006 and will likely be released before a $3.5 million roster bonus comes due this month.

Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli face tough decisions on what can and can't fit into the salary-cap-coated shopping cart. Tomase takes a look at how the Patriots will address their needs over the next couple of months as the Patriots prepare for the 2006 season.

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that Cash-over-cap has been the NFL's little secret for years. It's how the Washington Redskins can pay more than $100 million to their players when the salary cap last year was $85.5 million. It's also at the core of complaints from the low-revenue teams about the need for sharing local revenue because some owners believe unlimited cash-over-cap spending is making for an uneven playing field, tilted in favor of teams that can generate local revenue from things such as luxury box sales, naming rights, and local TV and radio deals. "I can never compete with some of these [high-revenue] teams," Bills owner Ralph Wilson lamented. "There are no companies based in Buffalo anymore." While owners of the highest-grossing teams argue that they've maximized local revenues by hard work and innovative thinking -- which is true, to an extent -- many refuse to acknowledge Wilson's point.

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.

USA Today's "Inside Slant" takes a look at which players the Patriots could lose to free agency. What gets lost in the unfathomable prospects of Vinatieri entering free agency and potentially exiting New England, is that the team has a couple other key championship contributors also set to hit the open market. While they may not have historic, Hall of Fame resumes like Vinatieri, it could be argued that wide receiver David Givens and starting right guard Stephen Neal have played nearly as important roles in New England over the last few seasons. Yet, not much attention has been paid to the fact that both players are on the verge of hitting what should be a hectic free agency period along with Vinatieri.

Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that the fissure between teams that make big money in their own markets (money they don't have to share) and the ones that do not is the root of the NFL's dizzying problems right now. While all 32 owners are voting against the players getting the 60 percent of total football revenue in salary each year (the owners are offering 56.2 percent), not all of them have the same motivation for being against it. For a team like the Pats, not giving more is based on principle. The cap's going to go up $20 million per team next season if they give the players 56.2 percent. For a team like the Bengals or Arizona Cardinals, the 56.2 percent (and accompanying $105-million cap number) represents a big chunk of their yearly revenue. The Pats take in almost $70 million more each year than the bottom-tier teams.

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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