Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that when the league's 32 owners meet in the Grand Hyatt at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to vote on what the Players Association says is its final offer to extend the collective bargaining agreement for six more years, they will be a contentious group. The owners are rife with factions. They are split among the rich, the filthy rich, and the obscenely rich. There are low-revenue teams, high-revenue teams, and middle-class teams. There are teams that would favor no salary cap so they could spend recklessly to win. There are teams that would favor no salary cap so they could spend not at all. There are teams that just want all the arguing to stop. It will take 24 votes to accept the union's proposal. It will take only nine to reject it. Robert Kraft has 350 million reasons to vote no, because that is how much debt he has taken on to create the crown jewel of the NFL. He has only one reason to urge his fellow owners to vote yes: because it's what's best for the game.
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.